SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
May 01, 2018
Up, up, and Aloft
Course & Speed
95°, 4.3 knots
Avoiding squalls, cloudy
Although my planner doesn't work as well here at sea, this morning still felt significant to me when I realized that today marks the first day of May, and almost two weeks onboard the Cramer. If you took away my watch and told me we've been sailing for months, I'd probably believe you.
Just as quickly as the weather changed this morning during A watch, life on the Cramer has already shifted a bit as we shuffle watch groups and enter the "shadow phase" of the program. For the past two weeks, we've been focusing on memorizing lines, engaging in science deployments, starting our molecular work, and understanding the ins and outs of sail handling. With new science and nautical knowledge under our belts (or harnesses?), we enter into a new phase in which students get the chance to shadow the mate or assistant scientist on their watches, and take on a new role of responsibility in their groups.
Although this phase only started yesterday, I've already had the chance to shadow both A watch's mate and assistant scientist. And though I've known that this trip would be challenging academically, these past two days have reminded me why this experience is so unique in the various ways it actually challenges us.
There are a million things to remember when standing watch, and a million more to remember when people answer to you. Shadowing my mate was a reminder of just that as I got the chance to call sail maneuvers, and Nate looked to me for answers instead of the other way around. I was reminded several times that the Cramer is voice activated- that is, no one will know where to go or what lines to haul unless I shout instructions that can be heard across the deck (something I'm definitely not comfortable with yet that's going to need some work). This morning, shadowing in lab gave me a look into how hectic it is to plan and run multiple deployments during morning station. Not only did we deploy a phytoplankton net, hydrocast , neuston net, and take surface samples, but we also recorded our hourly data and tended to project work while meticulously filling out data sheets and prepping the next set of equipment. A certain level of confidence and communication with everyone on deck is essential for coordination in the morning- whether we need to stop moving to lower the hydrocast or sail at a specific speed for a tow. With so many moving parts, morning station is usually a blur; even more so when I'm not just following orders, I'm thinking ahead to call some of them out.
While it seems hectic, I can already tell that this shift in responsibility is going to challenge us and push us far past our comfort zones, as it already has for me. Soon I'll be confidently calling a jibe and won't need help in setting up a neuston tow.
Almost symbolically, the watch groups are all beginning to receive the proper training to go aloft and climb the forem'st for an incredible view of the Cramer and the vast surrounding Sargasso Sea. For some of us, this is the ultimate jump out of our comfort zones as we conquer a fear of heights, strapped into our harnesses. Personally, I'll be back up there as soon as I can for a much needed break from everything below. Every so often, many of us have a "we're actually in the middle of the ocean" moment- a moment when you stop for a second and look around and remember that there's nothing around us, and only the present to consider. There is no better place to have that realization again, as I did today, than standing high above everyone on deck, where you get a total 360 view of nothing but clear skies and deep blue water.
With the start of a new month, two weeks in, beginning the next phase of our
voyage- I'm so excited for us to continue pushing ourselves and each other past what we think we're capable of. We've only just begun this journey, but thank you to those who have already pushed me this far.
- Alena Anderson, A Watch, University of California San Diego
P.S. To my family- love and miss you; thank you for giving me this experience, I can't wait to tell you all about my adventures! To all of my friends back in San Diego- I miss y'all bunches and haven't stopped craving midnight sushi since I got on this boat. xoxo