Motion in the (Atlantic) Ocean

May 26, 2024

Katherine Rigney, A Watch, Carleton College

Many hands to set the full mainsail.

Many hands to set the full mainsail.

Ship's Log

Current Location
18° 58.3’ N, 077° 26.5’ W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
320° psc, 8.5 knots

Overcast in the morning to beautiful and clear in the afternoon

Souls on Board

This morning we set sail once more, leaving Port Antonio behind for more open water. It's always exciting to get underway again, and today was no exception, especially since we had an audience in the marina. Mama Cramer is extremely impressive, if I do say so myself, so it's no wonder that a small crowd of the people who were docked around us in the marina came out to see us get underway. Getting such a huge ship off the dock is quite a task, but our chief mate (and fearless leader) Becca was more than up to the task. (Side note: Becca is the foremost international expert on whale larvae. Peer reviewed studies in the works.)

Timing is everything when hauling on the fisherman throat halyard.

Timing is everything when hauling on the fisherman throat halyard.

We had some exciting sail handling to do to get underway. Even before we were out of the harbor proper, we had set the forestays'l, mainstays'l, and the mainsail. We unreefed the main for the first time all voyage, meaning that we let out the bottom third of the sail, and hauled her all the way to the top of the mainmast. She is huge and beautiful! Once underway for real, we set the fish (always fun, since we don't often get to play with the fish) and in the brisk force 5 wind we really cruised away from Jamaica. Nine knots (nautical miles per hour) may not seem like much, but when you're cutting through 8 foot waves it truly feels like flying.

After four days alongside, many of our bodies required some recalibrating to the motion of the ocean. Not that rolling seas aren't insanely fun-they are. It's like a roller coaster, except that we live here. We've all gotten pretty good at diagonal walking, and doing lab work while standing as though we were climbing a steep hill. But seasickness takes no prisoners, and the renewed rolling took down a few of our hardiest soldiers. Long live meclizine, and everyone is working through it.

Life aboard the Cramer is so dynamic that sometimes it's hard to find the time to reflect on everything that happens in a day. In fact, we say all the time that on board, time feels completely arbitrary. But this experience has already given me so much, and taught me so  much, that it seems a shame not to take a small step back and acknowledge how different me and my shipmates are now than when we left San Juan over a month ago. This morning, Claire said "halyard AND jigging! What more could you want from a morning?" and not only did I understand her sentence, I heartily agreed.

Later in the afternoon, I complimented Abby on her balentine coil, something that once upon a time, I might never have believed I would know or care enough about to comment on. The shadow phase is drawing to a close, meaning that everyone is getting more confident calling out commands for setting and striking sails. This confidence and know-how are very new to most of us, and it's exciting to notice my own growth, as well as the growth of my shipmates. I will never stop being impressed by the people around me and their engagement, their alacrity, their confidence, the way we take care of each other. We've all grown a lot together, and I'm so proud of us.

We set sail out of Jamaica today. It's quite a life to lead.

- Katherine Rigney, A Watch, Carleton College

P.S. Sending love home to Massachusetts and my lovely snowed-in family! Mom, Dad, Grace, Clare, Edward, and Gaga, I love you and can't wait to update you more thoroughly!

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