Williams-Mystic S14 Completes the Pin Rail Chase with Excellence on their Sixth Day at Sea


3 February 2014, 1755

SSV Corwith Cramer

Day 6, sailing full and by under the four lowers

Force 3

Another beautiful day here on board the SSV Corwith Cramer. A lot has been going on, and there is even more to look forward to!

As I mentioned earlier this week, we’ve been seeing a fair amount of wildlife while sailing offshore. Though most of our visitors come by sea, today’s guest soared in through a stunning sunrise off the portside. A brown booby, typically found in these parts, flew alongside A Watch this morning and checked things out from above before turning back toward Puerto Rico. A few days ago, we also spotted a Magnificent Frigate Bird; the bird’s angular wings and large size made it easy to identify as it flew over the foremast and toward the horizon.  Then, just now, a group of 20 Atlantic Striped Dolphins visited us and thrilled everyone awake with acrobatics!

Today’s class began with Reports: Zak from Princeton, Kwasi from Williams, and Sydney from SUNY Maritime provided a scientific creature feature segment about the copepod, a microscopic zooplankton that has dominated students’ lab findings. Hannah from Williams and Molly from the University of Rochester gave our current and future weather report, then delivered some great news-it looks like the sunshine and steady easterly trade winds we’ve been experiencing are going to be sticking around!

The traditional Pin Rail Chase began shortly after these presentations; students have been practicing both handling and identifying every line on board Cramer. Separating into their watch groups, students engaged in a friendly competition to find each line called out by Chief Mate Caroline Smith. A Watch proved ultimately to be victorious, though B and C watches didn’t make it easy for them. Teamwork prevailed both during the Pin Rail Chase and in the days leading up to it; students regularly used their off-watch hours to circulate the decks to make sure they know the locations of the Jib Sheet, Raffee Halyard, and literally every line aboard.

Once things quieted down, it was time to get back to class for a lesson in Maritime Material Culture. Back at Mystic Seaport, students will be responsible for presenting a Material Culture mini-lecture about an item at the Seaport as part of their History class. These may be as small as the head of a harpoon or as large as a boat! Here on the Corwith Cramer, Professor Lisa Gilbert showed us some smaller items that have a significant place in both past and contemporary history: students learned about the Plimsoll Mark, which dates back to the 19th century and is located on the hull of Cramer near the waterline. This mark can be found on ships at sea and prevents the overloading of cargo by providing load lines for varying vessel types and waters. Lisa also taught about the Secchi Disk, a small white disk that was first lowered in 1865 from the Papal yacht and is used here daily during Super Stations to determine the transparency of water.

Today’s Secchi Disk deployment set a record for our trip to date: visibility to 24.5 meters!

In the coming days, students will select and present a report based upon our data collected at sea, earn more responsibility on watch, and experience their first anchor watch.

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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