SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
November 14, 2020
The Beginning of the End
024° 37.3’ N x 082° 52.9’ W
Ship’s Heading, Speed and sail plan
Anchored in the Dry Tortugas
ExN/ENE winds force 3, 28°C, sunny
After standing the first few dark, cold lookouts up North, and realizing we didn’t really know as many songs as we had thought, we needed a new method to help pass the hours. Looking at vast emptiness gets boring pretty quickly. We began to prompt each other (as we are on separate watches) with “lookout questions” to ponder while harnessed into the forestay and trying to decipher whether the crest of a wave is a buoy or merely a figment of exhaustion. As the weeks passed and the bow of Cramer became comforting, we learned the value of sitting with our own thoughts. We also learned the sheer excitement of being called aft for Watch Teatime on the quarterdeck where we had our friends’ thoughts (and midrats) waiting for us.
On a 133-foot vessel, with 34 other minds and what have become 18-hour days, the best entertainment is each other. At 0200 on dawn watch, instead of opening up a web browser, we stumble from the lab to the quarterdeck where Logan shares, in vivid detail, how amazing Staples’ new logo unveiling is. At 0600, we whisper Campbell’s wake-up and discover in response that she had just been dreaming about us. At 0830, we check the reefer and freezer temps and warm-up our singing voices to harmonize Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” as soon as we step into the galley.
Rather than picking up our phones, we pick the minds of our shipmates. Our only choice is to be present. For smooth sailing, we have to be attuned to one another and constantly aware of what is going on around us. And so, we are no longer surprised to hear a seemingly unusual thought shared while triple rinsing a nutrient bottle.
This evening at 2000 on anchor watch, our shipmates were victim to our random thoughts and lookout questions. We suspected, and confirmed, that Max’s spirit line is the topping lift because he “always raises the bar” (for clarification, the topping lift raises the main’s boom). Carolyn’s (2nd mate) spirit lines are the lines we all embody but will never admit to being: the jib sheets because “if you don’t pay enough attention to them, they just keep getting louder and louder.” Audrey told us while licking her peanut butter spoon that the dinner triangle is her favorite sound. Our Chief Mate Christine’s favorite line is the main sheet because “it is the only one she knows.” Adam’s (Steward) favorite boat sounds are from the things Katy (Assistant Steward) drops in the galley. When we asked Aidan about his favorite boat sound, he sarcastically responded with, “Good morning Aidan, it’s 0030 and this is your wakeup.” Fittingly, Cap’s spirit sail is the jib topsail (JT). It empowers all the other sails and is a “mighty powerful little guy that makes everything work.”
And on November 18, we will be returning to the distractions of land. We will also be leaving the thoughts that come to us at lookout from exhaustion and the instantaneous relief by our friends’ minds…
- Becca and Nora
PS: See you guys soon!
Editor's Note: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all SEA Semester students, faculty, and crew aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer boarded the ship after strictly isolating on our Woods Hole campus for a minimum of two weeks, and after repeated negative tests for COVID-19. To ensure the health and safety of those onboard, the ship will not conduct any port stops and will remain in coastal waters so that any unlikely medical situations may be resolved quickly.