Underway from Puerto Rico
February 12, 2020
18° 29’ N x 065° 49’ W
Ship’s Heading, Speed and Sail plan
At 1900 watch change we were motor-sailing to windward with staysails and single-reefed mainsail. Our destination being, Virgin Passage between Puerto Rico and St Thomas by first light.
Winds East by South, Beaufort Force 4. Scattered cumulous clouds and occasional squall.
A good night of sleep followed by an amazing breakfast has made for a great day onboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. Let me start with a shout-out to our first student, assistant steward Fiona who supplied us with enough pancakes, fresh fruit (mixed berries) and sausage to power through a full morning of safety training.
The main topic for today was the Watch Quarter Station Bill, a list of each crew member’s responsibility during specified emergency scenarios. We discussed primary and secondary responses for Fire/Flooding, Abandon Ship, and Man-Over-Board. Students located and learned how to handle a variety of safety equipment, launch the rescue boat, and operate fire hoses; among many other details.
Once we stowed all the safety equipment and had mid-morning snack it was time to prepare the ship and ourselves to leave the dock! A busy time to stow the ship for sea (if it isn’t lashed down everything will find a way to start rolling about the ship), to take in the gangway, and to handle dock lines, fenders, and eventually sails. By 1130 we were sailing out of San Juan Harbor right past El Morro Fort; the very same walls where students only a day prior had been walking and gazing out to sea.
Upon clearing the harbor entrance several changes occurred simultaneously. The water color changed from a dull green to various shades of sparkling blue, the marine fauna went from brown pelicans and terns to frigate birds and brown boobies. Schools of flying fish, a small pod of dolphins and clumps of drifting Sargassum heralded our arrival; all signs that we had entered into the vast North Atlantic Ocean. We also felt the transition in the motion of our home. As mentioned above we are headed east, into the winds, no easy task for a sailing ship. Even with the motor-assist and sails to smooth the ride, there has been a bit of pitching and rolling.
Sure enough, there has been some sea seasickness among the crew… but in equal measure there has been the care and support of shipmates delivering full water bottles and sleeves of crackers to those in need. However, for the most part, the new crew have already found their sea legs.
Tonight, we continue to make our way east and all aboard will enjoy our first night sailing under a blanket of stars!
Stay-tuned, there is much yet to come.
Jeff Schell, Chief Scientist
PS: Well wishes to family and friends, and for my little rose in London, sweet dreams.
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