SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
February 18, 2016
The Basics of a Salty Caribbean Sailor
Anchored in Francis Bay, St. John
Description of location
Anchored among other sailboats and yachts in Francis Bay, surrounded by steep green islands on 3 sides.
Weather / Wind
Clear skies, warm, sunscreen and sweat-worthy temperatures
Yesterday was our first day on the open sea as we made our transit from Gallows Bay, St. Croix to our current mooring at Francis Bay, St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While I would like to say it was a 100% delightful crossing, I spent a significant portion with my head stuck over the railing so as not to vomit on our beautiful ship. I am told by the crew that keeping your eyes on the horizon will help with the sea sickness and despite my regurgitation of breakfast, I am thankful for the view.
We students are just beginning to pick up on the basics of how to be salty Caribbean sailors - how to wear your deck harnesses correctly, knowing to walk backwards in your snorkeling flippers so as not to trip over yourself, accepting that you will always lose a battle of you vs. the Caribbean sun without copious amounts of repeatedly applied sunscreen, and for goodness sake do not brush your hair below deck (nobody wants to clean that and we do A LOT of cleaning). One of my biggest accomplishments thus far has been learning how to gracefully carry a full plate of food up the ladder from the main saloon onto the deck to watch the sunset while eating a delicious dinner made by our fantastic steward, Tia. Of course all of this is in addition to the actual lessons we are receiving on how to sail. Within the next week we are expected to know the names of all 85+ lines, an extremely daunting task. I can just see the beginnings of baby calluses on my palms and I am proud.
In our first 3 full days on the Corwith Cramer, we have already conducted two coral reef surveys. Today, after a 30 minute walk on a road cutting through a dense mangrove forest scattered with termite nests and a stop at an old sugar plantation on St. John to get our history fix, we arrived at the our snorkel location around Water Lemon Cay on St. John. Here, we donned our rash guards and smudged anti-fog lotion into our snorkel masks before wading in, carefully avoiding the sea urchins. While collecting data on hard and soft corals as part of my snorkel survey, I looked up to see our group of 27 flipper clad sailors conglomerating in one area and making excited squealing and bubbling sounds through their snorkel mouthpieces. On the sea floor was a nurse shark, resting between two rocks.
Thinking it would not be such a great idea, several of the students refrained from attempting to pet it. Other squeal-worth sightings included sting rays, trumpet fish, a barracuda, and sea turtles. After a quick rescue boat ride home to our mooring, we all settled down to change, eat, and no, not rest, but get back to work.
Wish me luck in not getting sunburned,