Monday, October 11, 2010

Experiencing the Sea

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{the Corwith Cramer}
On Board the Corwith Cramer
This past week, I spent my time sailing down the coast of Maine to Rhode Island on a tall ship sailing vessel called the Corwith Cramer. The Cramer belongs to the Sea Education Association, an educational sailing program that offers college students the opportunity to study at sea. My husband works for the Sea Education Association (SEA) and every year, the Cramer makes a transit from it's yard period in Rockland, Maine back to Woods Hole here on the Cape. This year, I was invited to join my husband and the crew of the Cramer to go on the transit. I was entirely nervous/excited about this experience because I had never been on a sailing vessel and never been so far out on the ocean that you can't see the shore.

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{bow of the boat}
On Watch
It was a fabulous experience. I was put on a "watch" crew and every 8 to 12 hours, our watch was on deck for 4 to 6 hours, hauling sail lines, standing watch at the bow of the boat (on the look out for other boats and/or obstacles to avoid), steering and maneuvering the ship through the waves.

When we weren't "on watch", we were either eating a meal, cleaning the soles (floors) and heads (bathrooms) below deck, doing dishes in the galley (ship kitchen) or sleeping in our racks (6 foot long bunks).

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{bunks in the main saloon--I slept in the one on the right!}
No Matter the Weather
The very first watch that I stood on, was especially adventurous, as we bombed through a storm. Winds, rain and waves pitched us all about, but it was actually better to be on the deck in the rain and wind then down below because the air and the ability to see the horizon line helped me not feel so sea sick.

I was wearing my father-in-law's foul weather gear (which was a bit big for me) and a harness, which could be used to clip in to lines we set up to walk from one end of the boat to the other. Waves crashed around us and sometimes spewed water onto the deck as the boat rocked back and forth and up and down. We scrabbled around the boat, putting sails up and taking them down. I didn't know what I was doing, but I just followed the directions of the amazing Mates/leaders who were in charge. It was wild and exhilarating. It was one of those experiences, were I got a glimpse of mother nature's power and realized how tiny I was in the grand scheme of things, just one little part of a much greater whole.

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{looking up one of the masts}
Drawn to the Sea
We did get some beautiful weather also. I experienced a dawn watch (3am to 7am) in which the stars spread flawlessly across the sky, faded into soft grey and then spat morning pink onto the canvas of a new day.

I now have a much better understanding of what draws people to the incredible, powerful, changing, loving, energy of the sea.
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{the Cramer sailing away. goodbye!}

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3 comments:

JodiB said...

Sounds like an amazing experience! I guess you had no time for yoga on the deck? That would have been an interesting balance challenge!

Leaves and Feathers said...

Wow, what an amazing adventure, I loved reading your story. Something about sea voyages have always intrigued me, but I am also scared by the vastness of the sea!
I'd love to do I trip like this someday.

Courtney said...

Wow! What a neat experience! Can't say I've ever experienced a dawn watch, but it sounds amazing!! You are a lucky girl! How was it sleeping on those bunks though?? I bet you were so exhausted that sleeping was a little easier! xo

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