SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
December 21, 2017
18° 35.8’ N x 06° 48.6’ W
Sailing 30° PSC at 4.40 knots under single reefed mainsail, main staysail, course, topsail, and jib on a starboard tack.
Wind from the east, Beaufort scale 2, 3-foot easterly seas, pressure 1015 millibars, skies clear, and log is 1068 nautical miles
"Wire ready!" I shout as I stand by the hydrowinch and prepare to lower two pantyhose stuffed with decorated Styrofoam cups into the ocean. It may not sound like it, but our last science deployment of the voyage is quite an emotional event. Students and crew alike spent the last day adorning their own cups with depictions of various sea creatures, coral reefs, beautiful Caribbean sunsets, and treasured memories from our journey. Alongside the CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) sensor, the cups will be dragged down to the lowest depths of the ocean, 2201 meters to be exact. At over two kilometers down, the pressure is high enough to compress the foam cups into miniature, shot glass-sized versions of themselves. The tiny (and now, quite durable) cups will be a wonderful memento of our time aboard the Cramer as our program nears its end.
We began the final leg of our trip on the 19th, and we are now approaching the Virgin Islands and our ultimate destination of San Juan, Puerto Rico. We will drop anchor in San Juan on the 22nd at around 1400, where will begin
our final preparations for the journey home the next day. For the students aboard, the last few days have been a whirlwind of project work and presentations as we wrap up the academic portion of our semester. Exclamations of anguish and joy echo throughout the ship as p-values indicating statistical significance (or lack thereof) reveal themselves to weary eyes. The satisfaction of finally finishing our research more than makes up for all the fire coral stings, inhaled saltwater, mosquito bites,\ rope burns, and many bouts of sea sickness we have all endured to reach this point.
As the end of our voyage fast approaches, our dreams of air conditioning, internet, and long showers become that much closer to being fulfilled. In two days when I am lying in my bed at home, still feeling the gentle rocking of the ship despite being firmly on land, I know that I will miss hearing the ocean crash against the hull a foot away from my head. I will miss the endless horizons and the weight of my phone in my pocket being replaced by a flashlight and a knife. I will miss the friendships I have forged during the long hours of dawn watch, and the memories I have made sailing with a crew of amazing people, each and every one of them working to improve themselves as sailors, scientists, and scholars.