Getting our Land Legs Back

February 14th, 2016

We began Tuesday, February 9th aboard the Corwith Cramer, in port in St. Croix, where the sun was like butter melting on our skin… and ended the day in a gelid parking lot in Mystic, CT. Despite the abrupt weather transition, it was good to be back at home base.

At the risk of being too brisk in my account, I will attempt to capture the whirlwind of our last days at sea. On February 6th, we sailed into Francis Drake Bay and anchored for the night near St. John. We disembarked from the Corwith Cramer for the first time and found our land legs on the shore of the Virgin Islands National Park, where we enjoyed a sandy lecture from Lisa and Mike about the geologic and biological identity of the surrounding islands. Soon, we were all back in the water, this time equipped with flippers and snorkel masks. As a first time snorkeler, I was truly in awe of the multifarious world that lay just below the water’s surface. With excited waving of arms, we gestured each other towards a variety of creatures including: a stingray, an octopus, a sea turtle, barracuda and countless schools of fish. Reluctantly we left the beach and shook the sand from our shoes to join the ship again. Without delay, we sailed off anchor (without the use of the “D-sail” aka the motor) out of the bay and found ourselves once again rocking and rolling on the sea. Over the next few watches, we enjoyed the now familiar routine of the ship: setting sails, cleaning the deck, plotting positions, eating yummy meals, completing boat checks…

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Over the course of the voyage, members of Spring ’16 had been learning a great many things about maneuvering, and the crew felt we were ready to call the shots for a “buoy chase.” Each watch was to have a turn steer the ship during the drill. The objective was simple: recover the “fenders” (inflated tubes that protect the ship as she comes into port), which had been thrown over. Nearby, a chain of green islands rose from the sea. It was a calm, clear day and the only other vessel on the horizon was a small fishing boat. The setting seemed perfect for a friendly competition. C-Watch bravely took command, but nothing could have prepared them for what happened next. After some effective maneuvering that brought the boat just meters from the buoys, a few waves pushed them momentarily out of view. Many of us stood at the rail scanning the rolling waves. Hark! We finally spotted the white buoys bobbing some distance away…only to realize that the fishing boat had noticed them too. From behind a pair of binoculars, first mate Scott announced that indeed the boat was collecting our buoys. Yikes! With a dramatic flash of motor, the boat turned and began to speed away leaving boiling tail of white water in their wake. When it became apparent that the boat was not going to return the buoys, Scott and Kelsey set off in the lifeboat in hot pursuit. The rest of the crew waited anxiously for nearly an hour as we lost sight of our small boat on the horizon. Finally, the rescue team could be seen heading back towards the Mothership. Squinting, one could see the white peeking over and it was clear that their mission had been successful—the buoys had been recovered safely! Triumphantly, our heroes boarded the ship, fenders in hand. Scott and Kelsey had traveled almost two nautical miles to meet the fishing boat, which had picked up the fenders apparently unaware that they were being used in a training drill. Deciding that this accidental piracy on the high seas was enough adventure for the day, the captain announced this the end of the buoy drill…

After catching our breath, we began Field Day. Armed with sponges, squeegees and toothbrushes (only those belonging to A-Watch), we chased away the dirt and grime from every nook and cranny of the ship. This merry cleaning occasion is a way of giving back to the ship, who had taken such good care of us for ten days.

We eventually anchored near St. John. Following dinner, the whole crew mustered on deck for the “Swizzle”—a toast, celebration and talent show. Professional crew, faculty and students took the stage to share their talents. Kenny (SUNY Maritime ’18) thrilled us with a pirate impression. Stu (Roanoke ’18) tickled our ears with an original rap. Rachel (Wesleyan ’17) served as MC for the event, and word on the street is that she totally crushed it with some clever puns. This event was a splendid moment to pause and reflect and, of course, to thank the professional crew for all their hard work and patience. Before long, it was all hands on deck to pull the ship in motion for the last leg of the journey.

The next morning, we docked at St. Croix and said our goodbyes.

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***

I am writing this summary from shore and finding it difficult to separate one adventure and even one day from the next. At sea, the sunrises and twilights, the watches and wake-ups, the meals and routines all blur together against the same blue backdrop, and the whole experience can feel so wonderfully timeless. Though at the same time, being on a ship means that your hours, even your minutes are meticulously scheduled. For me, things truly become timeless when my ostensibly water-resistant watch accompanied me below the water’s surface to gaze in awe at a sea turtle during snorkeling. From then on, the blank watch screen forced me to rely on “ship time” in the most literal sense, and I lived at the mercy of my shipmates to wake me and relieve me from the helm. I enjoyed this timeless feeling the most at night, especially when stationed on lookout. Looking up at the dome of sky—a blue-black canvas poked through with starlight that stretched to meet the watery horizon on all sides—was a wonderfully humbling experience. Back on land, time marches on.

Following the voyage, we welcomed a brief pause, which included sleeping (without the fear of being woken for watch), nursing sunburns and calling friends and family to try to explain the previous ten days. Then we dove right back into the Williams-Mystic curriculum on Friday, February 12th with a special lecture in Marine Policy from Jim Carlton, director emeritus of the Williams-Mystic Program and world-renowned biologist. He discussed the policy issues related to bio-invasions and the changing face of legislation regarding ballast water, which serves as a major vector for hitchhiking species. The tiny zebra mussel, he emphasized, is to blame (or thank) for setting in motion much of the modern policy responses to invasive species. (If you are unfamiliar with the saga (cue Jaws music): it is 1982 in Great Lakes, and a Michigan resident turns on there tap to find no water is flowing…the zebra mussel had so thoroughly coated the walls, they clogged the pipes!)

During a break in class, Sophie (URI ’17) Amanda (Pacific U ‘18) Lizzie (Millersville ‘17) and Amelia (Williams ‘17) presented what is the first “policy snack” of the semester. For those not in the loop, “policy snack” is a delightful tradition in which each house is invited (required) to prepare a thematic snack for Marine Policy class. If Katy Hall’s irrepressible energy and passion for marine policy were not enough to entice you to rise every Friday, the snack tradition adds an extra incentive.

In the afternoon, we selected maritime skills and had the option to sign up for a part time job working with Williams-Mystic faculty or Mystic Seaport staff. The maritime skills, a unique cornerstone of the WM curriculum, include sea chanteys, squad, shipsmithing, basic watercraft skills and canvas work. You can read more about the options here: https://mystic.williams.edu/academics/skills/.

In addition, there are a variety of jobs available for students seeking research experience or hands-on work with boats. Erica (Williams ’18) is positively thrilled to start working as a marine ecology research assistant with Professor Mike Nishizaki. Athanasia (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ’17) is looking forward to honing her boat maintenance and repairs skills working on the yachts on exhibit.

For now, WM Spring ’16 are settling back into life in Mystic. As noted, the transition from the Caribbean to cold and snowy New England has been a little rough. Hot chocolate helps; Sarah (Middlebury ’17) has been sampling the downtown coffee shops and bakeries to track down the best beverage. This week holds the first full class schedule and we are all eager to dive into the policy, literature, history and science, the interdisciplinary curriculum that lured us here.

***

You may have noticed a slightly hipper tone and an abundance of grammatical errors in this entry…indeed, the author has changed. My name is Rachel and I arm-wrestled Mauro for the job of blogger, so you will be suffering through my writing from here on out. I am a junior pursuing a double major in history and environmental studies at Wesleyan University, which is just down the road. I hail from Raleigh, NC, but obviously have discovered a certain affinity for Connecticut winters. Over the past month, I have had the privilege of getting to know my thoughtful, talented and passionate peers while hoisting sails into the wind, chatting over the dinner table, and learning in classes on ship and shore. I am thoroughly looking forward to spending three more months with this fantastic group of souls as we immerse ourselves in all the program has to offer. In writing this blog, I hope to share a small glimpse of the truly unique experience that is Williams-Mystic.

0 to 60 – The Saga of Life Aboard a Ship

Friday, 5 February 2016
Time: 1501
Position: 18° 06.32’ N by 064° 29.96’ W
Image Caption:
Course Ordered: 015
Speed: 2.2 knots
Weather / Wind: winds from the SW(!) at 4 to 6 knots;

Greetings from the Cramer, about 17 nm from Virgin Passage. This is Mauro
once again with your daily update.

C-watch had an uneventful watch yesterday from 1900 to 2300. Winds were
light and variable, and eventually died down around the time A-watch took
the deck. Despite all our best efforts (singing and whistling wind songs,
trying to do wind dances), we couldn’t muster any winds. A-watch used the
relatively low speed to do a midnight Neuston net tow, capturing, among
other things, larval eels (Leptocephali) and spiny lobsters (Phyllosoma)
which were presented to the crew at our 1430 class by Stu and Virginia.

C263C_5February2016_Eelssmall.jpg

Back to C-watch: after an overnight snooze, they mustered at 0620, ate their
breakfast, then went up on deck for their 0700 to 1300 watch. After an
incredibly quiet night (in which mates Tristan and Farley pointed out was
probably THE quietest night so far of our voyage), C-watch—almost
immediately—had to:

-Deal with a squall, with everyone in their foulies
-Strike the jib topsail, then immediately move into setting the topsail
-Assist with 3 mildly successful Shipek grabs in 50 m of water (“I think we
hit a rock the first time”), which meant we had to motor out about 1 mile to
get to deeper waters BUT
-When the motor turned on, the stacks blew, sending soot everywhere and
facilitating the need to scrub decks not 1, not 5, not even 10 times: they
had to scrub the deck 3 (three) times.
-After motoring, they attempted and finally had a successful Shipek grab in
700 m of water
-Athanasia assisted with approximately 2 hours’ worth of dishes and galley
cleaning
-Monitor small craft vessels fishing in the area
-Prepare a Neuston tow
-But finally, and I was asked to insert this verbatim by two members of
C-watch that shall remain nameless (until I mention them by name here:
Athanasia and Nicola): “the best part was having baked brie for snack!”

Quite a different experience from their evening watch! They handled it all
with ease, however, and finished up just in time for a well-deserved lunch
(quinoa salad, Greek-style butterbeans, and fresh baked bread). Great job,
C-watch!

C263C_5February2016_CWatchsmall.jpg
C-Watch, always prepared for anything!

Our 1430 class, as I mentioned previously, began with Virginia and Stu
presenting their Phyllosoma and Leptocepahli specimens, followed by a
presentation on dinoflagellates and diatoms by members of B-watch (Marlo,
Erica, and Thomas).

C263C_5February2016_B-Presentationsmall

Wrapping up class for today was breakout sessions for the watches, with
Chief Scientist Lisa Gilbert, Professor Mike Nishizaki, and T.A. Hannah
Whalen assisting students as they prepare for their science presentations in
just under 2 days. Each group will be presenting findings based on the data
we’ve been collecting over the past few days (the following images presented
in marvelous, full-color GIMBAL-VISION™. Note the tilt of the table in the
first image—“GIMBAL-VISION™: now that’s life below deck!”).

C263C_5February2016_Prep1small.jpg

Finally, a special surprise visitor: it appears we had a stowaway in one of
our student’s bags. For those versed in the lore and traditions of
Williams-Mystic, please welcome back Grover!

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Grover has been a valued member of the Williams-Mystic family since the
1990s. He is the official mascot of Mallory House, and travels with students
on (almost) every field seminar. Never one to expect free passage or seem
like he is not pulling his own weight aboard the ship, Grover jumped right
for the galley, assisting with dish washing and prepping today’s dinner.

Until next time.

On Nautical Science, Sail Handling, & the Music of a Ship

Thursday, 4 February 2016
Time: 1614
Position: 17° 53.7’ N by 064° 47.5’ W
Image Caption:
Course Ordered: 095
Speed: 2 knots
Weather / Wind: winds coming from the north; clear day, Cumulus clouds
Description of location:  Heading towards the Virgin Passage

Greetings from the Cramer, currently located within eyesight of the island
of St. Croix (we’ve yet to make landfall—we’re just sailing on by!). This is
Mauro once again with your daily update.

Last evening’s watch, like all watches, proved to be an exciting one. With
wind direction changing and wind speed picking, A-watch had the opportunity
to strike the main sail at 2000 yesterday evening. For the first time on our
voyage our group had to strike the main, under the cover of night with 10
people. A-watch succeeded in their task, and then quickly proceeded to
strike the jib. This required some brave individuals to go out on the
bowsprit and reef the jib. Special shout-out here to Cloey (College of New
Rochelle ‘17) who, without hesitation, was the first to make her way to the
bowsprit, clipped in with her safety harness, and climbed out to the very
end and began reefing the jib! Great job to everyone involved—it was an
excellent team effort.

This morning’s science session examined the effects of depth and pressure on
objects using a CTD on a wire and the much anticipated Styro cast. Again, in
a highly scientific manner, students sent decorated Styrofoam cups down to a
depth of 1913 meters below the ocean’s surface. What we knew and wanted to
demonstrate was that the pressure beneath the surface could turn a regular
sized Styrofoam cup (or any object) into a vastly compressed version of
itself. The evidence:

C263C_4February2016_Styrofoamsmall

Following lunch, and again under a decent wind, A and B watches mustered
together to reef in the mainsail (more properly, this time—as you may
recall, B-watch did so yesterday evening in the complete darkness). With the
sails set, students enjoyed a bit of downtime on deck, reading more Harvey
Oxenhorn and practicing knot-tying. The 1430 class session came around and
we were greeted by Thomas and Lizzie (Millersville ’17) giving a brief
presentation of the stomatopods and fish (larval flounder and a needlefish)
found during B-watch’s midnight Neuston tow. Athanasia, Nicola, and Amanda
then presented their work on the pigment chlorophyll-a (the light absorbing
pigment found in phytoplankton) and how testing for levels of this pigment
help indicate the productivity of a body of water (higher levels of
chlorophyll-a indicate more phytoplankton, a source of nutrients and food
for higher-level marine organisms). Ecology professor Mike discussed the
abundance of bioluminescence in the waters around us, and its causes and
uses by various organisms—for example, as an escape mechanism in cephalopods
and a way of capturing prey amongst anglerfish.

C263C_4February2016_Thomas&Lizziesmall.jpg

C263C_4February2016_Chlorophyllsmall.jpg

We finished up our science section with a little nautical science: sextants
and knot work. Students were instructed in how to properly sight a sextant
by mates Scott and Tristan, though the rocking of the Cramer made lining up
our scope and the Sun a bit difficult! They then made their way to the next
station (the port side of the ship), where mate Eric gave lengths of
practice line and showed students how to tie, among others, the reef,
slippery reef, stopper, and bowline knots.

C263C_4February2016_Amelia_Sextantsmallsmall

C263C_4February2016_KnotTyingsmall.jpg

On a more social and personal note: students and crew have begun to settle
in to their rotations and schedules. They happily sit and converse but
recognize when one needs to break away for a nap or has to report for watch.
They’re moving together as more than a team or a ship’s crew: they function
almost like a band or an orchestra (and not just the onboard band now
composed of Lab Coordinator Kelsey on fiddle, Captain Jay on guitar, and
Chief Scientist Lisa on banjo), with Cramer’s gently rolling masts as the
conductor’s baton we all take our direction and cues from. To quote and
build off Captain Jay’s comment yesterday just before the pin chase:

“You feel that? You feel that wind? You see these sails? Mama Cramer is
happy that her crew knows their lines. That her crew is taking care of her.
She’s happy.”

Even in darkness, high winds, or choppy seas, we all know the roles we have
in keeping our ship and shipmates happy. We know how many people are needed
on each line to haul, or how fast we should ease, when to jump in and help
our fellow crew members sweat out lines, or when to hop in the galley and
take to dish duty. Just like the best of orchestras, we can read not only
Director Cramer’s cues and directions, but each other’s: our fellow
musicians, our shipmates. By simply listening to the sounds around us, we
can tell when we’re using a sextant incorrectly, when our stewards could use
an extra hand, or when our helms-person should ease into or out of the wind
a bit.

Each day on board seems increasingly complex (there’s always a new tool or
sail handling method to learn), with new challenges to face (reefing sails
on the bowsprit in high winds), and may seem undoable (learning over 100
lines in just 4 days!), but we do it. We do it because just as our
surroundings, our setting, our areas of study, our ship, and our ocean
become more and more complex as we study them, we find the beauty in that
complexity, and we love every second of it.

Until next time.

Rainbows, Science and the Pin Chase

Wednesday, 3 February 2016
Time: 1706
Position: 18° 33.47’ N by 065° 43.82’ W
Image Caption:
Course Ordered: 120°
Speed:  0.4 knots
Weather / Wind: Bright and sunny (once again!), few clouds, winds at 7 knots
from the E
Description of location:  10 nautical miles off the NE coast of Puerto Rico
heading towards Virgin Passage

Yet another gorgeous morning on Corwith Cramer, with Puerto Rico’s mountains
to our west and the seemingly infinite Atlantic stretching out to the east.

A brief rain greeted B watch this morning, but students—under the direction
of the watch captain—struck the JT and began a slow gybe to create optimal
conditions for science deployments. Drenched, yet smiling, laughing, and in
high spirits, all on deck had the opportunity to see a double rainbow off
the port side. We eventually hove to – essentially “parked” – for our third
and final science super station.  B Watch mustered on the science deck and
students were taking turns deploying various pieces of equipment off the
port side.  First, a secchi disk was sent out, measuring the depth of light
penetration in the water column (giving us an indication of how much
photosynthesis is occurring).  Any guesses how deep the students were able
to maintain sight of the white disk?

Hint: It was way more than when we sampled in San Juan harbor (a mere 3 m)…

Answer: 38 m!

Next, students further experimented with light attenuation using our highly
scientific and extremely delicate Light Attenuation Spheroids (LASs),
otherwise known as Skittles and M&Ms.  This consisted of deploying the
various colored candies overboard and timing how long they could see them
before disappearing.  Of course, any extra LASs, with the permission and
encouragement of the Chief Scientist, were quickly consumed–always a
popular scientific method!

To finish out their superstation, B Watch deployed a carousel, used to
measure various aspects of water quality (temperature, nutrients,
chlorophyll, etc.) at 10 different depths selected by students, and a
Shipbek grab. Our grab descended to 708 meters below the surface, hauling up
a sediment sample that students had no qualms about digging in to with their
bare hands. [Thomas (SFSU ’16) discovered a variety of spines in the sample,
while Sarah examined sediment composition, all while Rachel (Wesleyan ’17)
took notes {we can’t formulate proper results if our data sheets are
muddied}]. C Watch deployed a Neuston net tow to capture and later examine
surface plankton in lab.  All in all, a very exciting morning for science.

Our 1430 lectures began with Virginia and Sophie discussing the Acoustic
Doppler Radar Profile (ADCP), a method of measuring the distance of objects
and waves. Professor Lisa Gilbert followed this up with a policy lecture on
creeping jurisdiction, or boundaries at sea, and the establishment of the
3/12/24/200 nautical mile limits since the 16th century.

C263C_3February2016_PinChaseStartsmall.jpg

Following class, a stillness swept over the deck at approximately 1515.
Captain Jay stood up, asked us all to stand with him and stretch out, then
began to explain the rules of the pin chase. Students glanced at one another
and towards the deck, their eyes tracing sail to line to pin. The time had
come to showcase four days’ worth of scrambling around deck learning lines.
Split into their watches, students were handed a card with a line name on it
by the science crew and speedily walked to that line, had it confirmed with
the Cramer crew, then made it back to the quarterdeck, tagging in their next
two teammates. Always mindful of our safety training, there was absolutely
no running allowed in the pin chase. The penalty for running: one had to
crab walk across the deck while out searching for pins and returning to the
quarterdeck for their turn.

C263C_3February2016_PinCompetitionsmall

Even with a record 3 penalties, C-watch emerged victorious and enjoyed a
conga-line victory dance. Congratulations Amanda (Pacific ’18), Kenny (SUNY
Maritime ’18), Nicola (CUNY Hunter ’16), Chelsea (URI ’17), and
Athanasia(Illinois U-C ’17)—winners of the 2016 Cramer Pin Rail Chase! But,
truly, congratulations all around to all of the students for learning the
names, locations, and functions of over 100 ship’s lines in just under 4
days—what an amazing accomplishment!

C263C_3February2016_Victorysmall.jpg

Our super station completed, our pin rail champs announced, and our stomachs
contentedly filled with Light Attenuation Spheroids, we are currently making
our way to the Virgin Passage with our course ordered roughly 120°.  Upon
crossing the Virgin Passage we will officially be in the Caribbean. Land
once again fades behind us as we continue our journey. It’s hard to believe
that 5 days have already come and gone, and our voyage is almost halfway
over.

Until next time.

Light Winds Over Blue Water

Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Time: 1815
Position: 19° 04.32’ N by 66° 16.575’ W
Weather / Wind: Bright and sunny, no clouds, winds at 2 miles from the NE

Greetings again from aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, slowly gaining ground
(moving along at 0.9 knots) as we head generally towards the U.S. Virgin
Islands.

Currently Williams-Mystic S16 is enjoying a swim call in the beautiful blue
waters above the Puerto Rico Trench, a much welcomed break after today’s
class: up and overs (going aloft), sail handling, and review for our pin
chase tomorrow. Second Mate Eric informed us that many sailors were not
considered sailors until they completed their first up-and-over—though they
did so in harbor. I wonder, then, what sort of sailors that makes our class,
who completed their first aloft session approximately 45 nautical miles away
from the nearest harbor?

Professor Mike Nishizaki led today’s lecture on latitude patterns,
productivity, and biodiversity in the ocean, comparing the tropics to our
home turf’s (Connecticut) cooler temperate waters. Rachel (Wesleyan ‘17),
Jessica (Maine Maritime ’16), and Marlo (Smith ’17) gave a brief
presentation on the Mantis Shrimp, one of many specimens caught in this
morning’s Neuston tow net. Fun facts: did you know that a mantis shrimp’s
jab can easily puncture bulletproof glass, or break a human bone? They have
the fastest recorded reaction time of any animal at 8 milliseconds, so be
careful the next time you collect one in your tow net!

Excitement builds over the pin chase, with students gleefully and quite
expertly being able to traverse the deck and differentiate between the
mains’l halyard, forestays’l jigger, JT downhaul, and others. Everyone keep
a lookout for Amanda (Pacific University ‘18) and Chelsea (URI ‘18)—they’ve
been spotted on deck in the early hours of the morning and late into the
evening pointing out lines and quizzing their classmates!

As a group, Williams-Mystic S’16 has put in much work keeping the ship going
forward: striking sails at 0200, scrubbing soles after dawn watch, reading
and preparing for classes, and so forth. And once again, they are rewarded
with the most gorgeous of sunsets as we wrap up Day 4 of our offshore
voyage.

Until next time,
Mauro

Williams-Mystic S16 is Underway!

Monday, 1 February 2016
Position: 19 o 18 ‘N x 066 o 11 ‘ W
Heading:  050
Speed:  5 knots
Weather / Wind:   Wind Force 4 SE x E

Greetings from the waters outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico! My name is
Mauro, the Admissions Director with Williams-Mystic, and current
resident-for the next 10 days–of the foc’sle upper bunk, port side (in an
area affectionately known as the Anti-Gravity Chamber). I’m here with 17
great students and Teaching Assistant Hannah Whalen and Professors Lisa
Gilbert and Mike Nishizaki on Williams-Mystic’s Spring 16 (S16) Offshore
Voyage.

S16’s start to this voyage-though delayed by roughly 3 hours at the offset
at the airport due to, of all things, the pilot being sick-has been
phenomenal. Our students have proven to be flexible and capable travelers
(many, from my observations, possessing the invaluable skill of making a
pillow out of luggage and being able to sleep on an airport floor) but, more
importantly, a flexible and capable crew aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. We
could not have dreamed of better weather to greet us in PR-nor a better crew
and captain!

After a quick taxi drive from the airport to our port, we were greeted by
the captain and his crew. Orientation Part 1 ended early on our first day,
with Quiet Ship at 2100-an opportunity for a full night’s rest that everyone
took.

Day 2 began early, with B-watch waking up at 0600 (and other watches at
0640), and with a breakfast of fruit, blueberry muffins, and spicy brown
sugar bacon (the stewards are the BEST). Our schedule for the day:

0800: All hands on deck muster for Orientation.

0805 to 0830: Pin rail orientation (our diagrams come in very handy these
first few days)

0830 to 1015: Overview of station bill and other operating procedures (watch
standing, walkthroughs)

1015 to 1030: Snack

1030 to 1230: Overview of safety and emergency response procedures, followed
by drills and practice (we make red Gumby suits look great)

1230 to 1315: Lunch

1315 to 1430: Science deployment in harbor: all the students assisted the
science team with the deployment of a Secchi disk, Shipbek Grab,
Microplastics sampling, and collection of water samples for Chlorophyll and
Phosphate concentration sampling.

C263C_31January2016_Sciencesmall

1500: After a flurry of activity to prepare to set sail, we waited until an
issue with our anchor was solved (a sailor’s life, we were told, is to hurry
up and wait). There was a long period of silence, as if students and staff
stood at the starting line of a race, waiting for the starting gun to go
off. Once Captain Amster gave the order to set sails–fired the starting
gun, if you will-everyone sprang into action. A good, strong wind has been
keeping us steady underway.

C263C_31January2016_Linesmall

On last evening’s watch, Chelsea (URI ’18) stood at the helm of the Cramer,
while her classmate Erica (Williams ’18) worked with Second Mate Eric on the
bowsprit. Kenny (SUNY Maritime ’18) and Nicola (CUNY Hunter ’16) walked
carefully in, on, and around the ship conducting their hourly walkthrough.

C263C_31January2016_Helmsmall

I had the opportunity to stand the 2300 to 0300 frame with B-watch. I
believe we were all impressed with each other’s abilities to navigate, find,
and adjust as needed lines in such a dark setting. Jessica (Maine Maritime
’16) stood bow watch for quite a while, her dark shadow constantly scanning
the world around us for obstructions and other marine traffic, becoming a
reassuring part of the horizon each time we glanced towards the foredeck.
Erica (Williams ’18) and Marlo (Smith ’18) worked in the lab, analyzing the
contents of our Neuston net tow-a procedure that required Thomas (SFSU ’16),
Rachel (Wesleyan ’17), and Lizzie (Millersville ’18) to help maneuver the
Cramer using a double gibe. All of our activity constantly stirred up
bioluminescent creatures, making the white-capped waves around us to glow
turquoise green.

Day 3 promises to be as equally exciting with our first onboard, under-sail
lectures beginning at 1430. Until then, let us hope that the days continue
to be warm, the stars bright, and the winds fair!