Land Ho! A Morning Ashore at Dry Tortugas National Park

February 6, 2013

24 deg. 33.5 ‘ N x 82 deg. 49.7 ‘ W

Sailing under the four lowers and JT

Greetings from the SSV Corwith Cramer! This is Stephanie, here with another installment of our Offshore Field Seminar. Lily from Williams is currently at the helm, guiding us away from the Dry Tortugas under the supervision of Captain Justin and Second Mate Jess. Students are scattered about the deck, setting sails and preparing to head for the sunny shores of Key West. We’ve just cut power to the engine and are traveling solely by sail – the best way to travel! By now the sound of the wind in the rigging is quite familiar to the Spring ’13 class.

Our day started off early at 0600 with an all-hands wakeup for breakfast, a delicious meal of homemade hash browns, grits, and fruit. After watching the fog dissipate and the sun rise over Garden Key, the crew prepared two inflatable dinghies to take everyone ashore. Students helped out by hauling the inflatables off of the Cramer’s decks and into the water, a feat much easier said than done. Life vests were handed out for the quick trip in, their day-glow orange reflecting the eager smiles of the excited bunch. Once we were all on the island, students had some free time to stretch their legs and explore. Fort Jefferson, a brick building on Garden Key, is the largest 19th century American coastal fort. We were able to walk through its many hallways and chamber and climb to the top of its walls to see the beautiful aquamarine waters of the Gulf. This was certainly a different view from the last several days! For many students the moat that surrounded the fort was a highlight. Morgan from California Maritime Academy loved the moat so much that it took him an hour to take in the views and enjoy its beauty! Other students stretched their legs as they took laps around the fort walking and jogging.

Students from Williams College exploring Fort Jefferson and enjoying the view of the SSV Corwith Cramer.

There is no greater noise than when you hear a student’s excitement when they realize that class will be held on a pristine white beach. Today that was the case! Students learned more about the Tortugas from Williams-Mystic Professor Lisa Gilbert , discussing how oceanography and weather have influenced the human history and current marine policy of the area. The second part of class was snorkeling in the country’s third largest barrier reef.  Armed with fins, masks, and snorkels, Annie and Julie, from Williams, joined their class for some quality time in the water. Amongst many other fish, we saw parrot fish, mackerel, moon jellyfish, and even a seven-foot grouper! Post-swimming, students enjoyed sandwiches prepared by our fantastic stewards Lauren and Shelby while they waited to go back to Cramer.

It’s hard to believe that there are only three days left in our Offshore Field Seminar.  S13 has accomplished so much this week and has had a great time learning the ropes of life at sea. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us!

Fair Winds,


Author: williamsmystic

A one semester interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea.

One thought on “Land Ho! A Morning Ashore at Dry Tortugas National Park”

  1. S’04 Ace Brinkmann- I have enjoyed the updates! Wish I were taking in the Florida Straits. It looked like another stunning day in the Dry Tortugas. It is a truly unique experience, and by now you have new friends to share these memories. Safe travels towards Key West.

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