The other day when I came up after a day nap I nodded first to whoever was on helm, (one of my friends) looked at the state of the ocean, how big were the waves, what directions, what color blue did they reveal, then looked towards the sky where the sun was and if a squall was sneaking up on us, and finally I looked for any islands in the distance, there was nothing. All I could see was a blue horizon line with not a mountain or another vessel in sight. I was curious what it felt like to completely disconnect from any land mass and lean into the role of the waves, it’s felt incredibly freeing and comforting. Was part of this feeling a change of weather? Or maybe my attention to the weather that I previously hadn’t taken notice of? What also changed was the community of friends and well-traveled and intelligent mentors whom I was now surrounded by and sharing this experience together.
Galley fun times
With the SSV Cramer made mostly of hardy steel, well cared for vibrant timber and an organized chaos of lines that make some sense after looking at a diagram, this tall ship can be categorized as an inanimate object. However, since living here for a week now, the Cramer is truly quite opposite from this with a living community of 35 people to keep her running smoothly and happy. The heading is corrected every couple of seconds, navigation and sail plan reassessed every half hour, and the weather taken every hour. The kitchen is cleaned 3 times a day, the interior spaces once a day, and the entire ship receives a deep clean once a week (Field Day!). Our engine room, refrigerant systems, and emergency gear are all monitored every hour. The reason I know this is because the students are trusted with these tasks as part of our rotating watches. With the loving and detailed care of our home at sea, she keeps us safe and comfortable.
Have you ever experienced the trust fall with a group of friends? You tuck in your limbs and lean back into the many arms of your peers. It’s like a physical manifestation of what trust can feel like. Now imagine you tuck your arms next to you and closing your eyes (in your bunk), you can hear the engine turning, and feel the waves hitting the side of Cramer, and the watch person doing their boat checks (all in your bunk), and then having to fall asleep and trust your friends for 12 hours! Until it’s your next watch. It is an incredible feeling when you go topsides at any time of the day and you see your shipmates focused, hauling lines, doing a one hundred count of zooplankton, and smiling. You know they are pretty fatigued (inside knowledge from being on watch a couple of hours ago) however, holding the responsibility with integrity, only then showing how tired they are when booking it to the showers or bunks once they have been relieved by the oncoming watch.
Six minute observations;
It’s a great feeling of pride to know that your watch is keeping everyone else safe and allowing them to sleep, eat, take a shower once in a while, or relax and draw. Our watches are at every hour of the day, we sleep when we can, we are woken up to eat, woken up for the next watch, and each take a turn for cleaning duties to keep our sea bound home clean. We give each other water, hugs, and left over nuts when it is deemed appropriate. All of this with interruptions of smiles, laughs, super awkward near tripping on a moving boat dance moves, which repeats all over again.
We have amazing cooks aboard, maybe a little too talented. Six times a day there is a chance to stuff your face, only now have I realized I don’t have eat my weight with every meal, although my stomach sure thinks so sometimes. The Bunks are like large cute cubbies with bedding (under our beds food is actually stored). I again felt like I brought too much stuff, maybe I should have brought just one pair of shoes so I only had to smell one of them. Once my shirt and myself gets sticky for the salt, I try and take a shower, my pillow is starting to be like that right now, I am actually about to try and attempt to do laundry after I finish with this blog. As long as I drink lots more water, embrace the closeness of people, and go topside when I am queasy or just want fresh air, I am happy. I keep on asking myself if this is actually happening and am so grateful for what I am being offered here. I hope to give back some day.
- Savier Morales, College of The Atlantic
PS: To the Morales family, mom I know you love sea stories, defiantly let’s try and go sailing when I am back home. I have a couple of books that I will send you as a late bday gift, there is so much. To, lots of your stories aboard the USS Enterprise all come to mind while on the Cramer. I finally got to experience the night sky in the middle of the ocean! Your right it is beautiful. Mo, I’ve been writing in the journal, love it a lot. I remember you loving oceanography, and I can see why. Hope you can find a way to get on this vessel someday, I know you would love it. Nico, hope things are good, all of your stories about the Star of India have been coming back to me. Let’s check out the museum when I get back! Punky, I know you’re the queen so just keep bossing everyone around. Chao and gracias por la cuidado y quentos que han dando.