And the Voyage begins!

Namastey! I’m Charu, the student blogger for Fall’11 Class of Williams-Mystic. I’m originally from Mumbai, India, and am a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College.

This semester, we have a diverse group of 17 students representing 13 colleges, 11 states and 2 foreign countries, and we have grown to be a very strong community already.

Soon being introduced to Mystic Seaport, Williams-Mystic campus and classes and settling in our respective houses, we sailed on SSV Corwith Cramer in the Atlantic Ocean for 10 days, conducting top-notch oceanographic research, learning sailing from the some of the best in the field and bonding over sea-sickness. On our return to WM campus, we explored the gorgeous town of Mystic and some of the most memorable trips were those to the Taste of Mystic food festival, Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Pizza and Drawbridge Ice-Cream. Soon, the classes gained momentum and we got busy with our readings and developing our research proposals.

 

Though, the thrill still continues. After all, this is Williams Mystic! We have had field trips to various museum exhibits at the Seaport for History class and the Weekapaug Rocky Intertidal Zone, Sabino boat trip, Barn Island Marsh, Napatree Beach and Mystic River estuary for Marine Ecology and Oceanography labs. Every house brings a ‘policy snack’ every Friday for Policy class, and last Friday, Carr House, which is my house, baked a spice cake of deliciousness and frosted it themed on a private vs public ownership issue.

This week, we began our student jobs and skills. I am assigned the Demonstration squad & Shanteys skill, and I am privileged to have the opportunity to work as a Marine Geoscience Research Assistant with Dr. Lisa Gilbert, our Oceanography professor. My friends, too, are enjoying making harpoons, woodcarving and taking sailing lessons for skills as well as their respective jobs. We are, now, looking forward to this Sunday because Glenn, our History professor, is taking us on a surfing trip! He is extremely passionate about surfing and has authored a book pertaining to the same, which will be out in the market very soon.

Last weekend was the fun-filled alumni weekend that is held every Fall semester, and we are thankful to the staff and the alumni for making it a success. We had an extremely successful auction and the money raised goes towards scholarships for future students. The highlight of the weekend, at least for me, was the Banana dance that the S’11 class left us dancing to.

An alum told me, “This will be the best time of your life if you let it be” and with every sunrise, I grow to believe in it more and more. I feel extremely grateful to be a part of the WM family this semester. These past few weeks have been fantastic and there is certainly much more to unfold!

Cheers,

Charu Sharma

A ship on the horizon

Position:  44.0 N x 068.9 W, near Vinylhaven, Maine

Heading:  N

Speed: 2 Knots

Weather: cloudy, light winds

 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

 

Good morning!  We’re heading towards Rockland Harbor, enjoying views of Vinylhaven to starboard, and dodging lobster pots.  C watch has the deck. Most of the other students are grabbing a few more winks after an invigorating night of sailing in 4 foot swells and 15-20 kt winds.   It’s quiet down below, except for the occasional opening and closing of the engine room door.

Yesterday we awoke to more whales, this time a group of 6 pilot whales only a few feet off our port quarter.  Later in the morning, students had one final chance to climb aloft underway.  Then, all hands gathered for a poster session. Students presented the results of our data collection over our 600+ mile cruise track, including our brief time in warmer Gulf Stream waters.

We’ll soon begin cleaning the ship in preparation for a swizzle to celebrate our last night aboard.  Then, it’s back to Connecticut for the Williams-Mystic F11 class, where we’ll enjoy the last few weeks of summer before heading to California for our second field seminar.  We are grateful to Capt. Beth, the mates, the assistant scientists, the stewards, and the engineer for helping to make this a great experience.

Until next time,

Lisa Gilbert

 

Svati (Dartmouth) and Greg (Brown) presenting their poster on seafloor sediment composition.

Labor Day on the Corwith Cramer!

Position:  43.1 N x 070.5 W, near Platts Bank, Gulf of Maine

Heading:  NW

Speed: 5 Knots

Weather: SSE winds, 15 knots

 

Williams-Mystic F11 enjoys Labor Day!

It’s Monday afternoon and we’re making great speed with the wind on our starboard quarter.  Everyone has their sea legs now and the Williams-Mystic F11 students not on watch are enjoying some time to draw, read, sing, and socialize.

For the past two days we have been sailing north.  Today we passed through Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary and continued into the Gulf of Maine with finback whales at our side.

Every afternoon we have formal classes on deck.  Thus far, class topics have included maritime language, geologic formation of the Gulf of Maine, right of way at sea, and marlinspike seamanship.  Today we discussed territorial seas, marine sanctuaries, and had a line chase, where students showed their knowledge of the dozens of lines we use to adjust the sails from the deck.

Tonight, students begin work on their marine science projects.  Each student is in charge of presenting a subset of the data we have collected during the last week.  In addition to sampling the surface waters every hour, we completed three oceanographic Super Stations: on the continental shelf, the edge of the continental slope, and a submarine canyon. At our most distant station, we were nearly 100 miles offshore and collected water samples from 2000 meters below the surface (1.25 miles).

Dinner smells good!  We’ve been very well fed by our stewards and enjoy healthy, energizing meals through the days and nights.

Until next time from the SSV Corwith Cramer,

Lisa Gilbert, Chief Scientist

Zara (Williams) and Matt (Drexel) completing an oxygen titration in the lab, wearing the requisite funny hats.
B Watch students Gretchen (Smith), Zara (Williams), Charu (Mount Holyoke), Chris (Williams), Becky (Cal Maritime), and Matt (Drexel) learn to splice during class.

The Voyage begins

Position:  Courthouse Pier, Boston Harbor

Heading:  N/A

Speed: 0 Knots

Weather: calm, clear, 68F

 

August 31, 2011.  0600 on the quarterdeck.  The stars are fading from view and students are just waking up after their first night aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. It’s a calm morning at the dock in Boston Harbor, with light wind out of the southwest and gulls flying overhead.  Yesterday, we  (the Williams-Mystic Fall 2011 class, plus a teaching assistant and oceanography professor), boarded a bus from Mystic, CT to Boston, where we met the ship and joined her crew.

We had a busy first day of safety orientation from Captain Beth and the engineer, mates, stewards, and assistant scientists.  Students are starting to learn their way around and getting accustomed to being on the ship.  They are learning lines, learning the daily routines and procedures, and practicing use of the oceanographic equipment.

As students arrive up on deck from their full night’s sleep, they look rested and excited for the next ten days.  We look forward leaving the dock after lunch and heading south toward the Cape Cod Canal.

-Lisa Gilbert

Chief Scientist aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer and Williams College Assistant Professor of Geosciences & Marine Science

Vera from Williams and Quinn from Middleburry enjoying morning snack on deck while docked in Boston Harbor.