SEA Currents: celestial navigation
December 10, 2015
All Downwind From Here
The last twenty-four hours have been marked by strong winds as we make our way down the East coast of New Zealand toward Napier. A Watch was particularly excited to discover, in preparation for our daily Navigation & Weather report, that as more seasoned sailors, we managed to have our rhumb run exceed our log run by 6 miles over the last 24 hours—an indication of efficient sailing.
December 09, 2015
Keep the Sun over the Life Ring
As I am writing this, we just finished our final hour of non-instrument sailing. I was both excited and slightly apprehensive when we first covered up the compass and stopped using sextants to get fixes multiple times a day. This experiment in navigation was not only completely new for all of our students, but it was also new for me and the other mates. I have to say that I think most people enjoyed it and learned immensely (there was a chorus of boos at class today when Captain Jason announced that the non-instrument run would be ending at 1700 today).
December 08, 2015
Taking On All Deck & Lab Responsibilities
Today marks the day that we entered the third and final phase of our deck and lab responsibilities. We’ve begun to acquire the fond titles of “J-WO” and “J-LO” to signify the shipmate who will be the designated junior watch/lab officer for the watch. That’s right- the location and safety of 30 people rests on alternating students that began their sailing experience about a month ago. Luckily, our mates, scientists and trusty captain assure us that they will swoop in should something seem wrong. It’s crazy to think how much we’ve learned in this past month and how much more there is to learn!
November 28, 2015
Location, Location, Location
We’re sailing along and I think everyone is finally used to the rhythm of life at sea - the strange sleep schedule and frequent snacks. However, there have been some changes this week. We’ve transitioned into phase two of the program, in which one student shadows the mate and scientist each watch. Each watch also is working with a different mate and scientist now. I think we’re all sad to leave our original watch officers, but as we start taking the lead, it’s good to see different styles and learn new things from another person.
November 27, 2015
Today is a momentous day for us. After all of this time at sea I can now say that we are solidly about a week from land in any direction, and even more importantly we have reached our fabled Checkpoint A. At about 1700 (5:00pm for you landlubbers) we turned the wheel away from the comfortable ~230os true we have been steering these last many days, as we have reached our golden latitude. From this point on we will be steering nearly straight west, towards our next checkpoint in the Caribbean.
November 24, 2015
A Whole New World
Hello my family and friends, this is Siya. It is hard to write this blog because so many things happened in the past two weeks and I do not know where to begin. Life at sea is much different than life on shore, and one thing I notice is that people on Cramer treat each other as family. We do a lot of school work, but even more time is spent learning how to live on the ship. There is a whole new language to learn. In the past, sailors learned sailing by oral traditions and working on the ship, and now we are learning in the same way.
November 05, 2015
A Frenzy of Star Frenzies
It is day ten of this leg of sailing from Fiji to Opua, New Zealand, and we have yet to use the GPS! We are living like sailors of yore, plotting our charts using dead reckoning and sun lines and star fixes when it’s clear out (luckily, the weather’s been gorgeous 80% of the time). We’re not nearly at the level of the ancient Polynesians we learned about, who knew wave and weather patterns and all the stars off the top of their heads, but we are becoming proficient with the sextants!
October 28, 2015
Passages across Open Oceans are hard to describe to those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience the vast open ocean from the deck of a sailing ship cutting through the waves under the power of the wind alone. Living life on a sailing ship on the open ocean opens ones perspective on the world and creates a feeling of power and strength in the soul while teaching how small and powerless we really are against the supremacy of the elements.
October 28, 2015
Swells, Snacks and Sextants
Hello again! It’s currently 2100 here on the Cramer, and I’m hanging out in the library while we motorsail our way across the Eastern North Atlantic. Today marks our 7th day at sea on the way to Madeira, and it’s absolutely incredible how quickly this passage has gone. We even saw a glimpse of the island’s hillsides today, which is a testament to how close we really are to setting foot on land once again.
September 14, 2015
Harvard’s John Huth Speaks on Navigation, Marshall Islands-Style
One of the hallmarks of a SEA Semester education is learning to navigate the ocean by traditional methods. We don’t reject modern conveniences like GPS, but we’re strong believers in preserving time-tested approaches to understanding the world around us—a form of cultural sustainability, if you will.
Starting in the classroom and continuing on board our ships, we teach our students how the sun, stars, moon, and other celestial cues can help them locate their position on Earth and, by extension, reach their desired destinations. Today, we hosted Harvard University Professor John Huth, who presented class S-262, Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems, with a detailed look at techniques used for centuries by dwellers of the remote Marshall Islands to chart paths, negotiate waves, and handle winds.