Rounding the eastern coastline of Puerto Rico toward the Caribbean Sea


Photo Caption: B Watch members Tenzin, Rebecca from Ithaca College, Veronica from Colby College, Jess from Wheaton College, and Sheik of SUNY Maritime jovially practice proper lighting for a tugboat at night during this afternoon’s academic class.

1 February 2014, 1703 h

SSV Corwith Cramer

Day 4, Rounding the eastern coastline of Puerto Rico toward the Caribbean Sea

Ahoy! Time for installment in the adventures of Williams-Mystic S14 offshore. During this morning’s Super Station, C Watch submerged a collection of artfully decorated Styrofoam cups and a beautifully painted Styrofoam head to the depths of the North Atlantic. When they resurfaced, the cups and head had shrunken to a fraction of their size—super cool, right? Everyone who decorated a cup will be able to take it home as a small souvenir of the trip, as numerous Williams-Mystic classes have done in the past.

Following a scrumptious lunch of vegetarian chili and cornbread, all hands were called to muster on the quarterdeck for afternoon class. Every day, students from the dawn and morning watches are responsible for presenting data collected while on watch. Today students shared reports with the whole ship’s company on whereabouts, our total distance traveled, and how our current meter works.

Science TA Catie Alves and I co-presented a chapter from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick entitled “Brit,” which is about the microscopic zooplankton consumed by Right Whales at sea. Approaching this from an interdisciplinary science and literature angle (á la Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck), we taught students about the origin of the word “brit” (used originally and exclusively by whalemen), what it actually is (anything from copepods and krill to plankton and pteropods), and what allusions Melville was attempting to make in this chapter. Following a lesson from third mate Kevin on the rules of the road, students broke up into their respective watches and had a quiz on the proper lights different types of marine vessels must use at night. We had a little bit of fun, though: each watch was handed a stack of green, red, and white circles (representing the different colored lights each vessel uses while operating) and elected a member of their watch to act as a tug boat, barge, cruise ship, and even the Corwith Cramer while the remaining bunch held correct lights in the appropriate locations. It was great to see everyone working together and able to get a laugh out of learning some crucial information; before long, it will be a student’s responsibility to properly light Cramer for the evening portion of her journey, so it’s vital that everyone have a working knowledge.

Amongst the many things we’ve seen on this trip are pelicans, flying fish,and even a pod of juvenile dolphins. I’m hopeful that the dolphins will return, it’s great to see everyone so excited when they arrive. Morale continues to be high and it looks to be a great next few days as students now seem to have their sea legs…more to come!

Fair Winds,


To track the route of the SSV Corwith Cramer follow this link!

Author: williamsmystic

A one semester interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea.

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