Field Day in Miami (sort of)
April 29, 2021
Alex Albrecht, C Watch, Claremont McKenna College
24deg33.5° N, 79deg59.9° W
005 degrees True
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Sailing on a starboard tack under the four lowers (mains’l, main stays’l, fore stays’l, jib) and topsail. West wind swinging more north throughout the night.
Description of location
Today we sailed and motorsailed though the east end of the Florida Straits up past Miami, whose skyscrapers were visible in the distance. The waters between Florida and the Bahamas are busy, so we were mixed in with lots of boat traffic by ocean standards. We’ve been riding the Gulf Stream northeast, which has been giving us a nice 3-knot speed boost (over a meter per second of current). Hot and humid with rich blue water. Beautiful.
Today was our first Field Day aboard the Cramer! Field days here are much more sinister than sack races, carnival food, and any other happy images that came to your mind. Mama Cramer has been patiently putting up with 36 sets of stink, spills, and grime for somewhere around twelve days now (only twelve?) and it was time to give her a massage. Every morning watch, we do a relatively light clean: scrub the soles (floors); clean the heads (bathrooms), showers, and handrails; and clean the main salon and galley.
All of that helps, but we've been spreading our sunscreen grease and delightful pastry crumbs to the deepest and darkest corners of this ship, especially while being ping-ponged off the walls below in the rough seas of two days ago. Therefore┘ field day! Normally this is a weekly event, but it slid until now, building my cleaning dread. However, it was clear from the start that this was going to be fun. But first, a little preamble.
I was in the lab with my C watch (represent) from 0100 to 0700 this morning. We had a Neuston tow to process. It was chock full of sargassum with a sneaky Portuguese man o' war hiding in there. Manny, as the stowaway jelly obviously had to be named, lived with us for the day in a white bucket before being set free. The blues and purples on that thing were so pretty. I mindlessly sorted sargassum for two hours (with gloves to protect from stinging tentacles) before I fully realized that I was awake. I was grateful for the lack of heavy seas - microscope work has a knack for making me feel grody. I kept my head down through watch, grubbed on some breakfast sandwiches (like McMuffins but better), and slept until lunch.
We watched a storm front stand up right off of Miami and pulled in sail to prepare, but it ended up dissipating over us without even a bit of rain. A disappointment for us rain-lovers and those who wanted to take some of the humidity out of the sky. Before I knew it, it was time. The field day meeting had begun. The air hung heavy as we awaited our sentencing. But - what's this? - a hype-building, all hands, rock paper scissors tournament with eternal field day glory for the victor? The mood swung faster than a C watch gybe. Anna (student) took the crown over Anna (scientist) and we were off, inspired to do our floating home good and keep her happy.
What's to say of the cleaning itself? We just set our positive growth mindset and did it. Washing bulkheads (walls), soles, and overheads with Envirox, our cleaning elixir. Oiling woodwork. Bleaching the bathrooms. Bringing cushions on deck to be wiped down. Much more. And then, the main event. We emptied the galley completely and brought everything up on deck. Sheet pans, muffin tins, cooking utensils, bowls, drawers, oven racks, every utensil imaginable √ we (and by we I mean A watch, but we all ended up helping) inverted the galley and washed everything √ everything - up on deck. There was some debate over whether everything actually ended up cleaner, but I think we made the ship happy and had a great time while doing it. Turns out field day is pretty fun.
A few last notes you might like: I've been vaguely hungry only once since coming aboard the ship. Katey and Will feed us great food in unbelievable amounts. Freshman 15 all over again. Also, it's been incredible to be surrounded by people who are so passionate about the world around us. I'm super grateful to be able to learn such a wide range of things here in this special way. Thank you to everyone who's making it possible. I've never really been around people who get excited about geology and sargassum and literature and talk about it in their free time. I love it. It makes me excited for every day.
To my family: I love and miss you guys! I hope you're staying out of too much trouble and having fun every day. Give Qbert a greenie for me, I'm excited to be home with you this summer. ?
- Alex Albrecht, C Watch, Claremont McKenna College
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