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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

April 12, 2019

Sweat it Out

Sam Ahlman, B-Watch, University of San Diego


Mary training Will doing “inverted sail tie rows” on the forestays’l traveler.

Current Position
26° 08.16’WN 064° 20.26’W

Course & Speed
350° PSC, 3kts

Sail Plan
Rafee, Tops’l, Forestays’l, Mainstays’l, Shallow Reefed Mains’l

SE winds, force 3, 5/8 clouds, cumulus, cirrus, altocumulus

Souls on board

“Take it to the pin and sweat it!” is a phrase heard often setting sails on the Corwith Cramer (and one you may dread if your hands are on the fish halyard).  On a tall ship, sweating usually has a different meaning than it does on land. Sweating is what you do to get a sail the last little bit of the way up. On the Cramer (especially for me), both connotations of sweating apply. 

A solid group of sailors on the Cramer have taken on a “taffrail log challenge”: one exercise (1 pushup, 1 sit-up, etc.) for each mile on the taffrail log (which is a spinning meter that is towed behind the ship and tracks our distance traveled). Much to the dismay of the lazier challenge partakers, Cap’ recently decided to pull the taffrail log in favor of the GPS log, as it became fouled with Sargassum too often. The Sargassum would get stuck on the log and stop it from spinning and recording our distance, thus, challenge partakers were able to get away with doing fewer workouts (tsktsk)!

For me, I enjoy spending time off watch working out with a buddy, I can always rely on my Woods Hole roommates Gail and Mary. My favorite workout spot is the fore deck a.k.a. the workout deck, a.k.a. the “celestial bodies gym” (get it…bodies HA!). Trying to walk, stand, and function on a rolling, lurching, bouncing tall ship let alone workout does present some challenges, but sailors are innovators! Popular tricks include throwing a sail tie over the forestays’l traveler and using it to do a kind of inverted row.

Cap’ also has some dumbells stashed in the starboard closet on the fore deck (don’t tell anybody) and every morning watch I see him working out on the fore deck. Pushups and sit-ups are always an option and the motion of the ship presents a unique and interesting engagement of the core. I tend to go for some squats on the quarterdeck, then move to the fore deck for a core circuit. But even if you don’t work out in your free time, maintaining and sailing a tall ship will challenge you physically.

Sweating a line when your hands are raw, your arms are burning, you’re fighting to get the sail all the way up, and you have to keep giving more when the line wants to give you nothing reminds me of rowing back at school. So, with or without the taffrail log challenge, life on board the Cramer involves a lot of sweating, whether its hauling lines, confining your already warm hands to rubber gloves in lab for 3 hours, or participating in a workout on deck. Unfortunately, on the Cramer there is a lot of sweating, and not a lot of showering…

- Sam Ahlman, B-Watch, University of San Diego

P.S. Very exciting sail plan! Grayson even let out a primal yell when the rafee (a.k.a. the party hat) was set!

Shoutout to Mom, Dad, Adam, Alex, the rest of the fam, and my rowing team, love and miss you all!!!

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, • Topics: c285  life at sea  sailing  study abroad • (2) Comments
Previous entry: 1000 Miles!    Next entry: Two-weeks down


#1. Posted by Merry Martinez on April 15, 2019

Really enjoyed hearing about the ship’s circuit training, and curious to hear about other “workouts” and friendly competitions among the other crew.

#2. Posted by Michele Ahlman on April 15, 2019

Hi Sam!!!!!

As I would have expected, your witty and intelligently humorous writing style just screams “Sam wrote this!” And it puts a big smile on my face! I am so proud of you and how you go all in on everything you do.  I figured you would have found a way to workout. I was wondering how you’d navigate it with the not-so-stable footing you have on a giant sail boat.

We miss you so much! I really miss my Sammy Sunday talks.  Can’t wait to hear all the details!

We love you Sam!

Love mom, dad, Alex, Adam, Nana & Papa…and the rest of this goofy crew ❤️



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