Three Cheers for Maritime Skills!

by Christina Moon, F10

Family and Friends weekend is right around the corner so we are frantically getting ready to wow our guests with the brand new things we have learned in our maritime skills classes so far this semester. Here’s a little sneak peek at the demonstrations we have planned:


Squad: Skills of the Sea and Shore – There is no shortage of activities to show off here: we’ve tackled climbing aloft, rope making, knot tying, rowing a whaling dory, and sewing ditty bags so far, but we’re going to run a drill called the Breeches Buoy this weekend. Historically this was a way to rescue people from vessels that had run up onto the rocks or were wrecked. It resembles a zip line that is rigged up through a series of steps to the mast and then the people on top hops into a buoy that looks like it has a pair of shorts attached to it and they are hauled down to shore. The goal is to complete it as quickly as possible and we’re hoping to beat the time record set by previous W-M classes.


Shipsmithing – So far, I have seen many, many hooks produced by my classmates who spend their afternoons in the blacksmith shop. On tap for later in the semester are letter openers, marlinspikes, and maybe even a harpoon or two!

Chanteys: Music of the Sea – Two of my roommates are doing chanteys as their skill so it’s not uncommon for singing to be echoing through the house. They’ve been learning both songs that were used by sailors as they worked on ships and other traditional folk songs. Instrument lessons are included as well and I believe their performance this weekend will include playing the violin, banjo, and whale bones.

Ship Carving – To learn the basics, my classmates in this skill have been practicing with lettering projects, but once that is mastered, they can go anywhere with what they decide to make next. Each student gets their own set of tools and they are responsible for sharpening and keeping them in good working shape. I’m really interested to see what kind of crazy figureheads or name boards come out of this.

Basic Watercraft Skills – I’ve been really jealous watching these guys sailing around the Mystic River in these past few weeks. They always look like they’re having such a fun time in such a beautiful setting. Of course, to be honest, I also laughed when one friend capsized – luckily no real harm done, he just got a little wet. Here’s hoping for good weather this weekend so they and everyone else can show off the great things we’ve accomplished so far this semester!


Author: Williams-Mystic

An interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea. All majors welcome and 100% of financial need met!

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