Whelp, attempting to encompass and relay a day aboard Cramer is no small task and now that I’m sitting down to do so, I’m rather overwhelmed! She’s small enough to feel cozy, but with 3 watches and 32 souls on board, there’s endless activity.
We began the morning with pillowy pancakes made by Mac, who heroically sacrificed sleep to please the people. We greatly appreciate it! We, in fact, appreciate every moment Alex and Mac, our stews, spend working to make sure we have lovely food to fuel our watches. They go above and beyond in both quality and time and deserve a shout out every day for their incredible work!
At 07:00, A watch relieved C watch, and shortly after, dolphins were sighted off the bow. In the name of science, all sailing was paused, and we gathered for some very official dolphin observation. For over 20 minutes, 10 or so spotted dolphins danced in our current, diving in and out of the waves while weaving around each other and our bow.
Eventually, we had to break away and return to our respective positions in lab, deck, and galley. Kate, Starr, Peter, and I were in lab and spent the morning deploying the carousel (which carries and collects many things including the Niskin bottles, which collect water at various depths for sampling), neuston net (for collecting zooplankton and sargassum), phytoplankton net, and secchi disk (determines depth of visibility in water). Science went slightly awry when we pulled up the carousel and came to the realization that none of the Niskin bottles fired due to mechanical malfunction. Simultaneous to the dawning of this realization, a squall overtook the ship. It was a small squall and while some people jumped to grab their foulies, our brilliant captain jumped at the opportunity to swab the deck. (We’ve been needing to give her a good scrub for several days, but fresh water is in short supply on board.) Everyone got down on their hands and knees in their cheerfully colored rain gear and set to scrubbing our lovely ship clean. It was a merry affair and the squall passed over rather quickly.
The afternoon was spent dashing around the freshly scrubbed deck in much excitement as all hands ran through our MOB (Man Overboard), general alarm/fire, and abandon ship drills. Practice makes perfect and we all feel much more sure of ourselves and our emergency roles. Plus it was good fun to sound all the horns and whistles and let loose the fire hoses over the leeward side! We reconvened after drills for watch meetings where we discussed our goals for the program and how to best support each other in achieving those goals. Commonalities A watch had in our individual goals were the desire to learn the basics of sailing and to foster community and connection. We’re kickin’ butt on both fronts so far!
After watch and class, I found myself drifting about the ship and falling into conversation with friends on B and C watch. We all live and work together, but the watch schedules can make quality time with those on other watches hard to come by.
I eventually found myself in the headrig- which holds my whole heart. If you’re ever looking for me and I’m off-watch- I’m in the headrig. Starr joined me and we had a long chat about tall ships and work aboard them. We paused part way through to help C watch raise the Jib Tops’l. A momentous occasion as it’s the first time we’ve raised the sail this voyage! Starr and I loosened the ties securing her to the bowsprit then lay back in the headrig to watch the sail be hoisted far above us. As the sun lowered, Starr departed and I lay alone with the ship and the sea. I can’t put proper words to the place or the moment, but I’ll try.
I lay there cradled by warm Caribbean winds and the arms of Cramer.
My right foot resting on the forwardmost point of the bow while my left leg dangled through the ropes of the headrig to the water below. The swells were high, and as we rolled down the side of them, the sea rose up and tapped my toes. It was all wind, sail, and sea and I lay there in the midst of it with my hair twining around my face and the glow of the sunset lighting the waves. I wish I could take all of you with me into these moments, but we’ll just have to settle for words.
I write this now in the Salon (dining room). Dinner wrapped up a while ago and everyone is either tucked into their bunks or up on deck. I’m staying up a little later to write to all of you. I’ll have to wrap it up now though, because I’ve got Dawn watch (1:00-7:00) and my bunk is calling my name.
Wish I could carry you all with me wherever I go, but happy to be home soon and share the memories I’m making here. Hope all is well, love you fiercely!
Blake Lyons, A Watch, SUNY ESF