Yesterday, the Sea Education Association (SEA) opened the hatches to their primary Atlantic sailing vessel, the sturdy clipper ship Corwith Cramer, for an afternoon of guided visits. Students and teachers were on board explaining the ship, their scientific mission, and the logistics of day-to-day life on a floating school.
SEA runs semester and summer learning excursions for high school and college age kids. The group we met yesterday had spent five weeks in Woods Hole training and preparing, then the last six weeks sailing up the East Coast from St. Croix aboard this very ship.
The ship is a floating laboratory, replete with a science library, and lots of gear for water collection, monitoring and analysis. Students had vacated the hold that morning, and will spend the next two weeks preparing research papers on the data collected in the cruise.
Since getting out on the water is one of the great perks of the marine scientist, you can imagine that there is a long list to berth/study on the Corwith Cramer, and I got the sense that the students were very serious in their pursuit of science.
Being in the hospitality business, I was curious about the sleeping arrangements…Let’s just say this is not a pillow top mattress! But students said the narrow berths were very comfortable, especially when exhausted by a long day at sea.
Every young Jacques Cousteau dreams of life on the water, and these students get to live it, literally learning the ropes needed to hoist the full sails of the ship. Students told us that while there is a motor, most of the journey is under sail, including maneuvers to collect water samples that involve jibing and going in irons. Tricky stuff even for experienced sailors!
It was a great afternoon on an incredible clear summer’s day, but I especially loved the school motto, emblazoned in brass on the helm: “Steer a course for others to follow.” Words to live by.