SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
October 24, 2015
35° 09.7’N x 008° 35.6’W,
Eastern North Atlantic
Overcast skies with light winds and calm seas
Getting underway for the third time now, everyone has slipped back into the familiar routine of sea watches like a fish to - well, water. The transition back to sea after a long port stop can sometimes be rough as we all struggle to re-gain our sea-legs, but thankfully we've had gentle breezes and calm seas to help ease us back in. After a sedate dawn watch this morning, while the Cramer ambled along at a leisurely two knots under a giant white swath of squares'ls, a few students excitedly suggested that they were hoping we might encounter some "sportier" conditions. I looked over at Rocky, the second mate and my fellow watch officer, and raised my eyebrows. Those of us with weak stomachs (me) or years of experience facing everything the ocean can throw at you (Rocky) quickly protested and said a little prayer to Neptune to thank him for blessing us with such mild conditions thus far.
As you've heard, we're now in Phase II, where the students take on more of a leadership role both on deck and in lab, and I'm truly impressed by how well everyone has stepped up their game and taken on more responsibility. Just a few short weeks ago the steps required to gybe the ship were a mysterious new language, which the students have now learned to speak fluently. It's always exciting for me to see that transition, whether setting sails or collecting and processing samples in the lab, I've been able to step back and cheer them on from the sidelines like a proud parent. Now I just need to figure out what to do with my empty nest.
Time does a funny thing out at sea. Just a few days out of Cadiz and already I've lost track of the days (Was it two days ago? Three? Five?). So many things happen in one 24-hour period, this morning's dawn watch feels like it was ages ago, and yet sometimes the last twenty minutes before snack time just drag on. One of the things I like about going to sea is how it makes you appreciate the small luxuries of land life and bring into focus what it is about home we value most. The night before leaving port, many of us feel the urge to fill up on all our favorite things, and you'll often find my shipmates and I getting one last gelato, as if we may never have a chance to eat ice cream again. Pulling away from the dock at first light is always a mixture of nervousness and excitement, saying goodbye to the familiar comforts of home and shore, like clean socks and food that stays put on the plate, and wondering what the seas have in store for us. In those first few moments as we get underway, I may look stoic and sea-hardened on the outside, but on the inside I'm jumping up and down, waving my hanky with abandon just like in the old black and white movies. Now that we're a few days into our nine day passage, I thought I'd ask around the ship to see what other people miss most about shore life and share with you the findings of my research.
So without the constant chatter of TV, internet, text messages, and Facebook newsfeeds, what great, deep and spiritual yearnings spring forth? Well, Netflix and WiFi, naturally ? Also high on the list, and being from Seattle something I can definitely sympathize with, was a good cafe con leche. (I will freely admit that I'm a bit of a coffee snob, and Starbucks has nothing on the coffee here in Spain!) Another common answer was more space, or privacy. With about 90 feet of space on two decks and 30 people to share it with, you can bet that no matter where you go (including the bathrooms or showers), you're rarely more than six feet away from someone else. Thus we will always share a special bond with our shipmates that land-dwellers will never understand. But by far the most common answer to the question of what you miss most about land was loved ones, whether friends, furry companions, or moms. So to all of the friends and family members out there reading the blog (both two and four legged ones), know that we're thinking about you! And to my significant other: I'll call you from Madeira, just as soon as I update my Facebook status.
Best wishes to all,