Just a Bunch of Rainbow Vampire Cloud Chasers

Author: Sarah “Spatula” Patulak, A-Watch, Mate-in-Training

Ella and Spatch with A watch hauling on the main sheet
Ella and Spatch with A watch hauling on the main sheet

Ella and Spatch with A watch hauling on the main sheet

Ship's Log

Noon Position
18 43.0' N 67 57.8' W

Ship Heading
355 Degrees

Ship Speed

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Sailing under the four lowers with a shallow reefed main, close hauled

North East of the Dominican Republic

Souls on Board

A piece of advice: always remember to look the other way when watching a sunset.

Today I may go as far to say, I watched one of the greatest sunsets I have ever seen. To the west we had the sun setting behind a glorious line of cumulous clouds, with epic corpuscular rays, bright pinks, and deep gold on a steeley blue big sea. Even the white caps were glowing gold. But when I looked to the east, I was met with glowing pink skies and something I had never seen, Anti-corpuscular rays. A phenomenon where the clouds in front of the sunset, cast a shadow across the sky and on the opposite horizon, you see what appears to be glowing pillars of light. A quick glance in the cloud guide book, explained the phenomenon, and informed the crowd that A-watch and I amassed with our excited yells, was rarely spotted and was reserved for "vampire cloud spotters" who stayed out cloud hunting until it started getting dark.

a sunset

A sunset that featured corpuscular rays, anti-corpuscular rays, rainbows, virga, and dolphins.

But then, it somehow got better. As the sun set further, the color started to soften and to the east and west were clouds exhibiting virga, or the falling of rain that evaporated before it hits the earth's surface. In the suspended rain to the east, a grand and tall rain bow started to appear amongst the clouds, around the anti-corpuscular rays. Sounds dreamy right?

But wait. THEN, a pod of about 30 dolphins came and were racing and playing around our bow and a beam of us, including baby dolphins. As a member of A-Watch put it, "Its like an 8th grade folder around here!" They were right; Lisa Frank would have a field day with the evening we witnessed.
All of this natural glory came after a busy day on board hauling back from anchor off of Puerto Rico, setting the Main, both Stays'ls, and the jib, and finally turning off the motor as the seas and winds picked up. It was the definition of a perfect sailing day for A-watch who stood from 1300-1900, and witnessed firsthand all the good today had to offer.

As myself and the rest of Cramer Crew cruise North West towards Silver Bank at nice 7ish knots, I cannot help but be overwhelmed with how much I love my job. It's a crazy life to live; weird hours, tight quarters a job description that is so extensive and varied it could fill a book, a home that is quite literally always moving, and keeps me away from family and friends for months at a time. But it's on days like this, when the sky is gold and pink and blue, my muscles are tired from hauling and tending, and the ships company is gathered around in awe of some dolphins, that I remember I wouldn't have it any other way. All the sweaty boat checks slop buckets, and sea sickness doesn't compare to the joy that watching a student call a gybe, box the compass, or run a deployment in the lab gives. Nor the fun of a swim call, snorkel mission, or post dawn watch breakfast with watch mates. And who wouldn't want to be known as a vampire cloud chaser?

P.S Happy Birthday to my Momma!! Miss you buckets and am so thankful that you support me in running, or sailing, around the world. I can't wait to celebrate when I get back.

Sarah "Spatula" Patulak, A-Watch, Mate-in-Training

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 | dkarlson@sea.edu

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