Williams-Mystic S14 After 24 Hours At Sea


Photo Caption:  A Watch step out onto the bowsprit for the first time under the watchful eye of Chief Mate Caroline, including Sarah from Wellesley College, Amanda from Mt. San Antonio College, and Molly from the University of Rochester

31 January 2014, 1643 h

SSV Corwith Cramer

Days 3, Offshore 10 nm NE of San Juan

Hello again! We have officially been at sea for a little over 24 hours and just finished class for the day. Today’s class was composed of an enthusiastic explanation by Ben, chief engineer, regarding our trip’s current water use and engine use (none after leaving San Juan Harbor), a lesson in maritime language through the writing of Herman Melville and the interpretation of Chief Scientist Lisa Gilbert, and sail handling skills from Captain Beth Doxsee. One of the most exciting moments today thus far was the chance for students to clip into the bowsprit-a rite of passage for every sailor. The weather today was perfect for such an activity: sunny skies, a steady wind, and puffy clouds dotted the sky as one-by-one each watch made their way onto the netting. With the exception of a stray rain shower here and there, the weather so far has been beautiful and ideal for learning how to sail on board a tall ship like Cramer.

I’ve slowly been noticing more independent student boat checks, which are completed hourly by the present watch. Either solo or in pairs, students make their way around and beneath Cramer’s decks to make sure that everything is in working order and as it should be. Amongst these tasks are engine room checks, temperature reads for the reefer (the ship’s refrigerator and freezer system, located beneath the galley), and a weather check for wind levels, cloud coverage, and sea height. Other tasks on watch include steering at the helm, acting as lookout, maintaining sails, and helping out with science deployments such as Neuston Net tows, which sample the water’s surface for microscopic zooplankton.

When students aren’t on watch, they are free to sleep in their bunks, socialize on deck, practice line and sail identification for the Pin RailChase later this week, read, or write/draw in their journal. Each Williams-Mystic student is provided with a personal journal when they initially arrive in Mystic, which they are encouraged to write in throughout their semester and especially during field seminars. Offshore, I lead 20-minute literature labs where the morning watch (which rotates daily) has protected time to reflect upon the last few days, take notes on our current sails/wind/position, or contemplate their wish list of things to complete while sailing on board the SSV Corwith Cramer. These journals become priceless keepsakes and a fun way to remember a unique semester.

In about two hours, it will be time for dinner and for C Watch to take the watch on deck  from 1900-2300. Things tends to get very quiet very quickly here, making it easy for a subset of crew to rest well after a hard day’s work.and to get ready for their night watches!

Until next time,


To track the route of the SSV Corwith Cramer follow this link!

Author: williamsmystic

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

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