Dude, where’s my sextant?

October 28, 2021

Allen Underwood, B Watch, Hamilton College

Allen (me,) Aleea, and Joey hauling line

Allen (me,) Aleea, and Joey hauling line

Ship's Log

Noon Position
30° 54.8’N x 052° 34.2’W

Ship Heading

Ship Speed
4.5 knots

Taffrail Log
1793 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Wind SW x S Force 6, seas SW x S 10 ft, visibility unlimited. Sailing under the stays’ls.

Description of location
660 nm West North West of Bermuda

Souls on Board

It feels like almost every experience I’ve had on the high seas is superlative. The craziest weather I’ve ever seen, the most tired I’ve ever been, the most beautiful night sky imaginable—things are truly wild out here. I’ve seen waves the size of school buses, plankton smaller than a pinhead, skies painted in ranges of colors I didn’t think possible, and so much more that I can’t fit in a single blog post.

Zuzanna, Kayla, Captain Alison, and Allen (me) shooting Local Apparent Noon on the quarterdeck

Zuzanna, Kayla, Captain Alison, and Allen (me) shooting Local Apparent Noon on the quarterdeck

As I sit and type this in the ship’s library, lulled by the rock and roll of the waves, I think about how far my shipmates and I have come. Today marks the halfway point on our voyage to St. Croix; our mood is mixed. On one hand, the halfway point is a melancholy reminder that our time here on the Cramer is limited. On the other, we are reminded of all the friends and family we have been missing for the past few weeks, and their imminent return to their lives. However, I, and the rest of my shipmates, have been looking past the sadness that can come from dwelling on the temporal nature of experiences like a semester at sea. We have been living life in the moment, making the most of every opportunity we have to get closer to the sea, and trying to decipher her enigmatic ways. I for one have been making an effort to document C-300 on the Cramer through a variety of mediums. Sketches, photos, poems—and perhaps most interestingly, Super 8 millimeter film, all punctuate my time off watch.

By capturing and visualizing certain aspects of life at sea, certain moments in time, I find myself becoming more attuned to the aesthetics of the ocean and the individuals coexisting with it. The sea draws people together in a particular way: I feel an interesting form of camaraderie with my shipmates. We are all, quite literally, in the same boat, in the middle of the ocean. That type of environment really brings out the selflessness and spirit of everyone on board. I’ve come to understand the sea more as well. A brooding character that has moments of extreme serenity and outbursts of wild, untamable rage, the ocean exists independently of my family of shipmates, yet remains inherently connected to it. Kind of the Kramer of the group. That’s kind of funny, Kramer—SSV Cramer. I’m chuckling as I type this. I digress.

Ava, Katherine, Kayla, and Camilla deploying the CTD.

My shipmates and I have been learning so much. Be it using a sextant, (I calculated Local Apparent Noon the other day!) the process of conducting scientific deployments like a Neuston Tow, or processing the results of those deployments with a tool like a spectrophotometer, our skill sets continue to grow. Each mile logged beneath this alabaster hull is another concept we understand, another feather in our cap, another notch in our rifle butt. We are all growing and thriving, even when the sea’s hostility tries to impede our successes.

In terms of what happened today, little to report. Pretty standard stuff; sunny, with winds around force 6-7. It’s been a choppier day than usual: the rollers have had me and my crewmates slipping and sliding around like we’re in a Charlie Chaplain film. Things have been getting warmer as we veer further south, especially below deck. However, the steady breeze has offered consistent refreshment from the oppressive heat indoors. We’ve collected more project data, as we have every day. For my project on marine plastic distribution, we pulled up an interesting dataset: the plastic sizes were larger than usual! Depressing that we collected plastic, but exciting in the sense that it creates an interesting puzzle to work out for my project. Darn, it feels like I wrote too much. But I don’t want to delete what I wrote! I’ll cut it off here.

Keep it wavy!

- Allen Underwood, B Watch, Hamilton College

P.S. Hi mom and dad. Miss you. Mary, miss you a lot. Hope tennis is going well. Lisa, Nonni, Papa, Poppy, Thea, Tony, Debbie, hope all is well. If you guys could forward this to Kyle and Ryan, that would be awesome (I forgot to let them know about this blog!) Their numbers should be in Mom’s phone. If they end up reading it, what’s up dawgs? Miss y’all a ton. Pass this link around to the rest of the fellas.

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