Friday, February 12, 2010

Corwith Cramer C-226C, Part 1

1 FEB: On the Cramer again. It is wonderful to be a sailor again. We spent the morning and afternoon with orientation and trainings: fire, man-overboard, and abandon-ship drills were carried out and the students were broken in into 3 "watches." My watch was B-watch and our jobs for the drills was sail handling - passing, striking or whatever sail handling was needed in the emergency.

The smells of the ship immediately took me back to my experience as a deckhand on the Cramer (3 weeks in the summer of '02 sailing off the coast of New England) and then before that as a student on the Cramer's sister ship, Westward during the fall of '99 sailing from Woods Hole, MA to St. Croix). The memories connected with the smells are amazing. The scent of the galley, the engine room, the heads and the labs - they are overwhelming and memories come flooding back.

After sailing aboard Crazy Horse and learning a lot about electronics and batteries and engines, Cramer's engine room was a fantastic place. I spent a lot of time with usty, the engineer, who head also been my engineer 10 years ago. Now 10 years later, I could ask intelligent questions and discuss the amperage, voltage, wattage and other operational details of the systems on board. Needless to say, I was fascinated by it and now hope to someday soon work as an Assistant Engineer on SEA's other boat, the Robert C. Seamans.

3 FEB: Getting my sea legs under me as students struggle to find theirs in this alien environment. There have been many "donations to Neptune," the God of the sea, as the students lose their lunches...dinners...and breakfasts...over the side in painful resignation. I felt a bit "lumpy," as we said on Crazy Horse, for a few days and on account of being in the choppy Gulf Stream waters, as we made our way west towards the Dry Tortugas. For lunch we had delicious burritos and I had felt better than ever. But soon, the feeling changed and I was on the lee rail looking at the water in a state of a bit of miserywondering which of the next handful of seconds, my stomach was going to tighten like it can in no other way and my lunch was going to be launched out of my body and into the turbulent waters below. This, accompanied with the humility that comes with making donations to Neptune, makes for a demorilizing ordeal.

I dry heaved twice and amazingly that was it - very thankful to not have donated. I felt spared - as if Neptune was quietly saying, "I could have gotten you if I really wanted to..." No one ever beats the sea, beats Neptune...that's what I love about it. People think they can conquer the mountains, but noone thinks they can conquer the sea. It's power is just too great. And therefore it is amazing sense to be in harmony with it, especially because it often doesn't seem to last too long. And oh, the feeling of crawling into my bunk (top bunk, all the way aft on the starboard side)...relief like no other kind.

5 FEB: Three watches rotate in 5 shifts throughout the day, so over the course of three days, each watch has stood all shifts of the day. Dawn watch 0300-0700 gets the sunrise but also has "dawn clean-up," a not so fun daily clean of the ship's below decks. The there is morning watch 0700-1300. One of two long watches (6 hours, while the others three are 4 hours), this watch is a good chunk of time where we are all used to being awake and at work. 1300-1900 is the afternoon watch which includes the distraction of having an hour or two of reports of engineering, weather, navigation and science completed during the last 24 hours, and this is followed by a class on the literature of the sea, a topic of nautical science or oceanography.

The evening watch, 1900-2300 is a pleasant one and usually involves the fun of sailing into the darkness. And of course, there is mid-watch, 2300-0300, which typically involves the infamous galley clean up, though sometimes it is now done by the evening watch these days. It is not to best job especially if tired and on a rolling sea.

Lots of sail handling today. Always a good activity and always makes the deck watch fly by. Started the day with 30 knots of wind!

Here is what meal time looks like below. Do not let the table hit your knees or things will slide what seems to be uphill! The second video is of A watch, who has just taken the deck for night watch. (The lights on the mast - red over green - mean we are a vessel currently under sail power.)

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