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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

February 27, 2016


Kathryn Condon, University of Michigan

SEA Semester Caribbean

Downtime on the Bowspirit

19°35.5’ N x 68°56.6’W

Description of Location
Navidad Bank


5 knots

Clear Weather, Force 3 Wind

Souls on Board

After nearly four days on the open water, all aboard the Cramer have been getting used to the daily view: beautiful blue skies meeting beautiful blue seas, only with the occasional cruise or container ship breaking this sight. But this morning, all were on deck witnessing a change in the scenery: WHALES!

At around 11:00, Julianne, our on-board whale expert (and employee of the US National Marine Fisheries Service), started hearing the songs of whales under water with her hydrophone. We all huddled around her, each getting a turn to put on the headphones and hear the whales signing their songs right below us. The best way I can describe the whale sounds is a mixture of a cow’s moo, and a children’s playground; similar to the moo of a cow but more playful, seemingly random, and childlike. While listening to the hydrophone, every once in a while there would be a blow from a whale close to the ship, capturing everyone’s attention. Eventually the whales started breaching and tail lobbing, too! Everyone on board, from student to steward, was awe-struck by the sight of a whale throwing its giant body out of the water (there were even some tears shed by our biggest whale lovers).

While we would have been happy spending the day watching the whales, the mates and scientists eventually brought us back to reality and gathered us all for some sail handling to get the Cramer moving again and remind us of our daily duties. Today was the beloved field day: two hours devoted to cleaning Mama Cramer. More importantly, though, this is the one time each week we can listen to recorded music.  With the help of One Direction, Justin Bieber and Beyonce, the Cramer was squeaky clean and we crew were covered in her filth. Luckily, Captain Chris called for a much welcomed swim call and we were able to rinse off and play around for a bit.

Other than the events of today, life aboard the Cramer is kind of calming down. It seems like most students have found their rhythm and know when to sleep, when to eat and stand watch, and when to enjoy some free time.  I like to think we all know our lines a little better after the line chase yesterday, and just maybe we are getting to know how the lab works. I noticed that the dinner table was very talkative today, a good sign because often times everyone is too tired to talk. But soon the rhythm of life onboard ship will change when we reach the Dominican Republic tomorrow. 

A special shout out goes to Mom, Happy Birthday! Hope you enjoyed your day, I was thinking about you extra during the sunset today. Also; Dad, Michael, Nick and all the rest of you back in Michigan, I hope the snowstorm wasn’t too bad (but just bad enough to get a snowday, Nick). Missing all of you guys and I can’t wait to tell you about life at Sea.

I just got word that the stars are awesome tonight so I’m going to sign off and take a look.

Night everyone!

Previous entry: No Land in Sight    Next entry: Salty Tales of the Where Wizard


#1. Posted by tish saburn on February 29, 2016

Hi All! So happy to receive more updates…I loved reading about the whale sounds you listened to…I am guessing that one of those whale-lovers that may have shed a tear was my beautiful daughter, Tess!  Hahahaha!  Yay, Tess!
Enjoy Samana everyone!

#2. Posted by Jodie Condon on February 29, 2016


Thanks so much for the birthday wishes!
I was blessed with a beautiful sunny blue sky day and lot’s of love from family and friends.
We were missing you during the celebration, but knowing you are happy and enjoying an ‘out of this world’ adventure made for a unique birthday wish for me this year!

We love your posting, it’s great! Nick and I just read it together-we certainly could feel the thrill of the whale sighting right along with you as you thoughtfully descibed the encounter. It was touching to read your likening the whale sounds to kids on a playground, your special heart for kids bubbles up even while at sea!

We wish you beautiful skies and smooth sailing. Looking forward to more journaling and seeing some amazing pictures.

Love and hugs,

#3. Posted by Dianne reilly on March 01, 2016

Wow seeing and hearing the whales must have been unbelievable!!
What an experience!!!
You all seem to be working hard, hope you get to enjoy fun times too
Safe travels and enjoy every day.
Miss you Tim!
This is Tims Aunt Dianne

#4. Posted by Anne righter on March 01, 2016

Sounds like your life is so busy, but fun & exciting. Like never a dull moment. Your blogging is informative, interesting, & fun. Your experience will be forever in your memory. I loved your describing the whales. Have the time of Your life. Love your young life!


#5. Posted by Jere on March 02, 2016

Oh my stars! I’m so impressed and proud of all you, but especially Kathyn! I knew you were strong, but boy oh boy you are really kicking some butt! I love reading about your adventures at sea…. and I can’t wait to hear it all in person. Please keep sharing your stories - its so fun to be there virtually. Please be safe and continue to have a wonderful, wonderful time! Love you bunches! Jere (Kathryn’s aunt)



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