SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
October 21, 2019
The sea the sea the sea! It rolls and rolls and calls to me
36° 26.2’ N x 061° 20.1’W
Ship’s Heading, Speed and sail plan
097.0°, 4.9 kts, motor sailing under the stays’ls (storm, main, and fore)
warm(er) and very breezy, though we’re heading into weather and waves
A ship on the ocean distills the idea of movement. It’s the underlying force. We pitch and yaw and roll, and learn that walking in socked feet will end in sliding. It’s all about finding the balance between bracing and moving to the ocean’s rhythm. Sometimes it’s a tripping lightness – the ship tilts forward and you dance on tiptoes, almost falling into a trot. Other times we dip aft and struggle uphill, each step (or push up) demanding twice the effort. Nursery rhymes of soothing rocking in cradles are regretfully debunked. Each person must engineer their preferred way to keep from rolling from side to side while they chase sleep. Mealtimes are an art form in which our palette swings from chin to knees, and woe to the clothing of anyone who miscalculates and splatters inadvertently. For all that, a surprising amount of hot beverages is consumed and carefully carried up and down the ladders, potential pleasure or disaster. Counting creatures under the microscope or picking sargassum out of buckets is a study in patience and timing, forceps at the ready to anticipate the samples as the water sloshes. The fuel in our day tank also sloshes, and choosing that moment of equilibrium is tricky business. It’s not an exact science, after all.
But it’s also the movement of people. We are learning one another’s schedules, and know when to tread quietly, or when shouts of competitive card-wrought joy are acceptable. We know to catch one another as the unfortunate latecomers who don’t have a bulkhead to brace upon slide around the quarterdeck during afternoon class. We’re quick to offer a steadying hand, or at least a conspiring grin, to our friends as they totter from one side of the deck to the other. I’ll admit to watching jealously as the mates stand unsupported and ride out the waves. They recall seasoned metro riders, unbothered and comfortable, unconsciously responding to the movement of the train. We’ll get there, I’m sure. Until then, we watch the horizon, steadying ourselves (and our stomachs) in its unchanging flatness. There’s something to be said for the ease of motion when we let the ship move our bodies for us. We begin to gain a sense of oneness, I think, a feeling of moving in tandem not just with each other and with the ship, but with the wind and water as well.
PS: Hello, hello! to all of my dear ones. The sea and the sky are just as delicious as I’d imagined!