A Journey Open to All: Olivia Glaser (S’18) on the Williams-Mystic Community

“This program is one of the most interdisciplinary programs out there. No matter what you think you are going to do or what path you are headed on in life, there is definitely an opportunity for you to find something here you are passionate about.”

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. She is studying public relations and political science at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at audra.delaney@gmail.com.

Williams-Mystic S’18 student and Skidmore College sophomore Olivia Glaser is originally from Los Angeles, California. She choose to go to school in Saratoga Springs, New York to experience something different: seasons.

The spring of her freshman year, Olivia happened to be in a class where Williams-Mystic executive director, Tom Van Winkle, was speaking.

“Tom came to talk in the class I was taking and I later talked to a Skidmore student who had done the program,” Olivia said. “This past fall I got in contact with Meredith [Carroll, Assistant Director of Admissions,] about an open house I wasn’t able to attend and she asked if I would be interested in applying, which I hadn’t even been thinking about.”

Olivia hadn’t been thinking about applying to the program because she didn’t think that was something she could do as a sophomore. She took time to contemplate if she was in a good spot in her academic career to be off campus for a semester as a sophomore and still thrive at Skidmore once she returned. Ultimately, she decided she wanted to participate in the program and chose to apply.

“It was a pretty big change from how I thought my sophomore year was going to go but I think I was ready for it,” Olivia said.

Since arriving at Mystic Seaport, Olivia said she has made many memories but that orientation week has been one of her favorite experiences so far.

“Getting to know everyone, my housemates in particular, has been a really positive experience,” Olivia said. “Preparing to go offshore with them was fun and that experience itself seems so surreal.”

Having been back in Connecticut for a few weeks, Olivia said that thinking back on the Offshore Field Seminar seems almost magical.

“We have all of these memories from the experience but I think about it sometimes and I think ‘did that really happen?’ because it seems so far away.”

One of the parts of the program Olivia was most excited for about living here in Mystic, Connecticut was being able to live in a house with her shipmates.

“I lived in a dorm while I was at Skidmore and that was fun but it is great to live in a house because I have my own space and I live with other people,” Olivia said. “Having that cohesive group is really nice and I enjoy all the responsibilities that come with it, like cooking and cleaning.”

Olivia said each house is different, so it is interesting to see how her house works together versus how other houses work together.

Each house receives an allowance for food each week, and must determine how to use and distribute the money. 

“Johnston House complies a grocery list and sends a few people to go grocery shopping for our food each week,” Olivia said. “Breakfast and lunch are on our own but dinners are cooked by usually one or two people for the group. Having family-style dinners has been good for us.”

Olivia wants people to know that this program is for any and all curious and driven students who want a change of view and pace in their academic career.

“This program is one of the most interdisciplinary programs that there is out there,” Olivia said. “No matter what you think you are going to do or what path you are headed on in life, there is definitely an opportunity for you to find something here you are passionate about or something related to what you are studying at your home school at Williams-Mystic.”

An Experience She’ll Never Forget: Katie Maddox (S’18) on Sailing Offshore

Being offshore “gives you a sense of how small you are in the world and that is very humbling. Now, being back in class, we can relate to all we are learning and reading about in literature and history.”

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. She is studying public relations and political science at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at audra.delaney@gmail.com.

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Our program prides itself on providing undergraduate students a semester of original research opportunities, extensive travel, and timely snack breaks. For University of Georgia Senior Katie Maddox, getting glimpses of the program via social media made her think that Williams-Mystic was the place for her to spend her last undergraduate semester.

“I decided to do Williams-Mystic because I don’t know what I want to do until I go to grad school,” Katie said. “I need to bridge that gap and it is a way for me to figure out what I want to do for the next few years.”

At the University of Georgia, Katie was an ecology student. Her class sizes were small and she experienced research and fieldwork first hand. What she had never experienced until coming to Williams-Mystic was conducting science experiments aboard a tall ship. While aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer circumnavigating Puerto Rico, Katie experienced all sailing has to offer.

“I was a part of A Watch and one night we had watch from 2300 (11 p.m.) to 0300 (3 a.m.) and we were motor sailing so it was pretty rough seas,” Katie said. “About half of our watch was clipped into the leeward rail because we were all seasick.”

Katie said that was the time aboard the ship where she asked herself why she had chosen to do the program, but that the seasickness subsided and there were many positive moments out at sea.

“My journal reflects some of the negative moments but all of my best memories are bonding with everyone,” Katie said. “The watches were made so well and now all of us are best buds. The class came back a big family.”

Being at sea was an experience Katie will never forget.

“It gives you a sense of how small you are in the world and that is very humbling,” Katie said. “Now, being back in class, we can relate to all we are learning and reading about in literature and history.”

Katie’s motto in life is that you have to try everything at least once. Even though she didn’t let it show, she worried about surrendering contact with the outside world and being a novice crew member on a ship for ten days. Now, worries and seasickness aside, she believes that sailing aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer is the best experience she has had in her college career thus far.

 

Aside from sailing in Puerto Rico, the S’18 class got another unique experience: visiting Old San Juan and El Morro, the fort at the entrance to San Juan Harbor.

The class as a whole was able to see the rebuilding process going on in Puerto Rico since hurricanes devastated the area in fall 2017.

“I had been to the same area last March prior to the hurricanes,” Katie said. “I got to see how things in the area had changed. It was depressing to see but it was good to see that the city is recovering.”

Prior to heading to Puerto Rico, Literature Professor Mary K. Bercaw Edwards told the class to imagine what it was like to get off the ship in a place they had never been and go into town with your lump sum of money like sailors did long ago. Katie said she thought about that while she was in San Juan and it was an interesting perspective to view the excursion from.

“I was glad we started at El Morro because as you work your way toward the bottom of old San Juan it gets more and more touristy,” Katie said. “It was cool to see that dynamic.”

When the SSV Corwith Cramer was coming back into San Juan Harbor, Katie said she felt like a real sailor because seeing the fort first is what the sailors would have seen back in the day.

For Katie, being back at Mystic Seaport is just as exciting as being out at sea. In addition to academic classes, each student takes a maritime skills class taught by those who work at the Seaport.

“My skill is canvas working,” Katie said. “I am very excited about it because we start with a literal and proverbial blank canvas.”

Katie’s will also hold a job while she is in the program. She is a lab assistant to Lab Manager Laurie Warren.

“I will help maintain the aquarium and take inventory in the lab,” Katie said. “This job is going to be a way to make a little money on the side and have fun.”

Williams-Mystic is more than just a maritime studies program. It is a place for people from all walks of life, and college majors, to engage in the study of ocean and beyond from many different angles. If you would like to learn more about the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program, please visit mystic.williams.edu.

A Crazy, Exciting, Sometimes-Scary, All-Around Unforgettable Experience: An S’18 Student Reflects on her Offshore Field Seminar

I have a feeling this semester is going to challenge me in very unexpected ways, and this trip was a good reminder that challenges come in all shapes and sizes, and the good thing about being a part of a supportive and collaborative community is that people are willing to help whenever help is needed.

By Olivia Glaser, Williams-Mystic S’18 and Skidmore College ’20

Note: This post is an excerpt from Olivia’s reflections on her offshore experience. Check out the full post (and other posts on her Williams-Mystic experience!) on the blog she’s keeping for the semester, OG at Sea: https://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/oglaser/ 

 

 

Hello!  I am back from the Offshore Field Seminar.  We circumnavigated the island of Puerto Rico in 10 days, and it was a crazy, exciting, sometimes scary, and all around unforgettable experience.  The director of the program, Tom Van Winkle, provided us each with notebooks in which he wrote us a personalized message of how to make the most out of our semesters here.  We were encouraged to write in our notebooks whenever we could during the field seminar, and I tried my best to write as much as possible.  I have transcribed the majority of my notes into this post, adding editor’s notes along the way.

Sunday

0510 – At the Hartford Airport, with Cheez-It’s.  Rachel’s biggest worry: “That everyone makes it out alive.”

My professor, Rachel, is a self-proclaimed Jewish mother, and we are her children.  

1107 – On the bus from the airport in Puerto Rico.  The music on this bus is SO GOOD.

1213 – Made it aboard the SSV Cramer after a short bus ride from the airport.  All of the palm trees I saw still had their tops but there were definitely signs of the hurricane, such as ripped balcony awnings, partially destroyed buildings, and a billboard and post that was completely on its side.  We’ve just got our bunks and unpacked and are now waiting to continue on with orientations from the crew and captain.

Technically, we were the crew on Cramer.  It is actually illegal for the ship to have passengers, so everyone on board must act as a crew member.  

1821 – Had a brief introduction to the crew and then lunch.  We split up into watch groups for more specific orientation.  I’m in group B and our second mate is Rocky and our assistant scientist is Janet.  We learned how to do a boat check on deck, in the galley, and in the engine room.  The engine room was so cramped and hot!  I was so tired that I was standing up in the lab swaying with my eyes closed.  I am just trying to stay as hydrated as I can.  It’s Sunday, but we aren’t leaving port until tomorrow evening, where we’ll anchor somewhere not too far out.  There’s almost 30-knot winds out there, so it’s better for everyone to stay in the harbor.  That’s surely where and when the seasickness will begin.  Although I’ve been fine at the dock, just tired.  It’s good we’re also getting full night’s sleep today and at least tomorrow.

Here is a breakdown of how the watch schedule actually works:

Day 1:

  • 0700-1300 — A WATCH
  • 1300-1900 — B WATCH
  • 1900-2300 — C WATCH
  • 2300-0300 — A WATCH

Day 2: 

  • 0300-0700 — B WATCH
  • 0700-1300 — C WATCH
  • 1300-1900 — A WATCH
  • 1900-2300 — B WATCH
  • 2300-0300 — C WATCH

Day 3:

  • 0300-0700 — A WATCH
  • 0700-1300 — B WATCH
  • 1300-1900 — C WATCH
  • 1900-2300 — A WATCH
  • 2300-0300 — B WATCH

2012 – I am in bed ready to go to sleep.  We had really good pizza for dinner and then my watch was on dishes.  It was fun but I almost fell from the crate I was standing on twice.  We will get woken up at some time during the night for our watch.  It’s weird to have to wake up someone who is basically a stranger.

After many days of watch, it is not weird to get woken up by someone, and my classmates are definitely not strangers anymore.  In fact, it was kind of exciting to pull back the bunk curtain and see who was behind it, whispering my name.  Also, steward appreciation note: the two stewards on our trip were ACTUAL WIZARDS and cooked some of the most delicious food I’ve had in a long time.  A lot of my journal entries are food oriented; we basically ate six meals a day, and it is so wonderful to find rice crispy treats waiting for you when you wake up for 0300 watch. 

… [Read Olivia’s journal entries from the rest of the trip here] …

Some final observations and reflections:

  • Seasickness goes away after a while! It does get better!
  • Putting 20 college students on a boat is truly a great way to bond.  Also, part of me feels that bonding is overrated, since we have the entire semester to get to know one another, and this trip was a great way to jump start that process.
  • I often forget that I love science and doing science on a boat was even more fun that I expected.
  • People that work on boats are SO COOL and I want to be like all of them when I grow up.
  • I have a feeling this semester is going to challenge me in very unexpected ways, and this trip was a good reminder that challenges come in all shapes and sizes, and the good thing about being a part of a supportive and collaborative community is that people are willing to help whenever help is needed.

To read more about Olivia’s experience, visit https://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/oglaser/ 

An Oddly Pleasant Lack of Personal Autonomy: Day Eight of the S’18 Offshore Field Seminar

The nature of rules on board the Cramer interests me. There are more of them than on land — unless it’s just that we don’t notice most landside rules because we’ve internalized them.

By Shawn Rosenheim, Williams-Mystic Spring 2018 Faculty Fellow

February 4

The nature of rules on board the Cramer interests me. There are more of them than on land — unless it’s just that we don’t notice most landside rules because we’ve internalized them. Here, it takes a couple days to get the rules down, but the reasons behind them are usually clear. After dark, anyone wanting to go on deck has to ask permission of the watch officer, so that no one is forgotten and gets in trouble. When using the head, enter and latch the door before turning on the light — some of the night watch will likely be sleeping no matter the hour. The rationality of the rules makes them easier to take, as does the fact that they apply across the board to staff, students, and crew.

So do chores. As the Williams-Mystic and SEA motto puts it, “you’re not passengers, you’re crew.” As I write, B Watch is cleaning the heads and mopping down the salon. While the hierarchy for decision-making is absolute — nobody would gainsay the captain — the work is apportioned to all. During the day, for instance, Ben Harden is the ship’s Chief Scientist, but he’s also often the one hauling out trash.

The combination of egalitarian spirit, round-the-clock watches and the clarity of structure means that our lack of personal autonomy is often oddly pleasant. You won’t need an alarm, we were told at the beginning of the trip: somebody will always tell you what to do. And they do. Mornings start with a visit from the watch — “Shawn, it’s 0600. Breakfast in 20 minutes“— and throughout the day the schedule functions like an intimate machine: the ring of a triangle announces musters, class time, watch changes. There’s something soothing in ceasing the task of independently planning one’s day. It’s a little like being rocked in your bunk by the waves: a calling back to childhood, but joined with adult responsibilities.

We’re presently moored off Vieques, just to the east of the main island of Puerto Rico. We arrived yesterday late morning, enjoyed a swim, and then, after lunch and class, spent the afternoon on the beach and snorkeling. Students will spend most of their time today working on science presentations. We’ll start back this afternoon.

A selection of memories:

  • The transparent larval glass eel (it looks like its name) drawn up in the Neuston tow
  • The giant manta (7–8 feet) that swam with the boat for four or five minutes, diving from port side to starboard. Why did it stay for so long? Was it looking for food? Just curious?
  • A horse galloping on the beach (one of the herds of free-roaming Viequean horses)
  • Watching Ian Ortiz (Swarthmore College ’20) trying to smash open the fresh coconuts he found growing on the beach palms (he eventually succeeded)

TRACK OUR PROGRESS!

You can follow the Cramer‘s journey at this link: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:426493/mmsi:366724450/imo:8617445/vessel:CORWITH_CRAMER

Please note: The information on the location of the vessel is not always updated regularly. If you notice the vessel staying in the same location for extended periods of time, it simply means the website has not updated recently.

Taking the Helm: Day Six of the S’18 Offshore Field Seminar

How lucky for her, seasick as she was, to have this chance.  And how wonderful of her to take it, with such gusto, as the ship cut its way in the night.

By Shawn Rosenheim, Williams-Mystic Spring 2018 Faculty Fellow 

 

February 2

The Cramer spent yesterday off the western edge of Puerto Rico, with the second and third crew teams taking their turns at plankton collection and analysis.  The seas were quiet.  After dinner, though, as we turned east to continue circumnavigating the island, the wind and waves picked up substantially. 

Around 2100 my stomach felt a strong need to go on deck.  

“Leeward side,” said Rebecca Johnson, the Chief Mate, when I got there.  “And clip in.”

Stumbling to the rail, I found that I wasn’t alone.  Five or six others were there, crouched in fetal positions, or leaning their heads mutely against the hull.  “Welcome to the party,” said one, who helped me clip in.  It was Brianna Buckley (SUNY Maritime College ‘20), from the Bronx.  She’d been OK, she said, until she had to do a larval count in the science center.  With that, we returned to our private miseries.

But here’s the thing: it wasn’t just miserable.  In fact, it was also glorious, as the Cramer plunged into the swells, throwing off huge milky curls of whitewater to either side. The rising moon, only a day past full, lit the glinting water.  Soft misting sprays broke over us on deck.

Jason, the captain, consulted with Rebecca.  Shelby Hoogland (Bryn Mawr ‘19) and A.J. Rush (University of Rhode Island ‘19) were in the galley, cleaning up from dinner.  Shelby was at lookout.  She asked Brianna how she was feeling.  

“Much better,” she said.   

“So, do you think you can take the tiller?”

Instantly, she took up her position, in which she would now be in no small part responsible for the well-being, not to say the comfort, of thirty people.

“Come up twenty degrees, Brianna.  Good.  Steady as she goes.”

And Brianna was steady, standing there face forward with both hands on the tiller, one foot placed ahead to prop her, 160 tons of ship bucking and plunging at her direction.  And I thought: how lucky for her, sick as she was, to have this chance.  And how wonderful of her to take it, with such gusto, as the ship cut its way in the night.


TRACK OUR PROGRESS!

You can follow the Cramer‘s journey at this link: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:426493/mmsi:366724450/imo:8617445/vessel:CORWITH_CRAMER

Please note: The information on the location of the vessel is not always updated regularly. If you notice the vessel staying in the same location for extended periods of time, it simply means the website has not updated recently.

 

S’18 Underway!

We’re now sailing west along the coast of Puerto Rico, under full sun and without the big wind waves. 

By Shawn Rosenheim, Williams-Mystic Faculty Fellow

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January 31

We’re underway!   Last night we got word from the captain that we’d be leaving at dawn, and by 0500 crew teams were preparing the ship.  Just after 0700 we departed into a strikingly beautiful morning, with squalls partly obscuring the citadel of El Morro and downtown San Juan behind us, clear skies above, and a rainbow to our bow. In the harbor, the Corwith Cramer was dwarfed by the container ships and cruise ships navigating in (one of the latter had its own roller coaster).  With their dull, unruffled progress, it was hard to believe they were kin to the Cramer.

Out of harbor the seas were spotty, with five– to seven–foot swells sometimes pushed up by the wind to nine or ten feet.  There was general giddiness at feeling the ship under sail.  When we hit a squall, the rain lasted just long enough to test our rain gear. Most of us began to feel the ship’s motion in our stomachs (a complex mixture of side-to-side and up and down that looks like a corkscrew). It was no worse than we had been warned; if anything, the seasickness is working to bring the group closer.  People — both students and the professional crew — have rallied to clean up and give comfort with generous good spirits.

We also set to our immediate tasks: raising and trimming sail, keeping lookout, beginning our science experiments.  Ten minutes out of the harbor, Micala Delepierre (College of the Atlantic ’19) had begun her first shift at the tiller – no time like the present.  By lunch we had run tests on water clarity and salinity, taken samples from 300 meters of the water column, and collected phytoplankton and zooplankton for later analysis.

We’re now sailing west along the coast of Puerto Rico, under full sun and without the big wind waves.  The plan is to turn south when we reach the island’s westernmost extremity, in order to sail from the Atlantic into the Caribbean.  Meantime, most people are hanging out on deck, enjoying the weather, or grabbing coveted naps.

 


TRACK OUR PROGRESS!

You can follow the Cramer‘s journey at this link: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:426493/mmsi:366724450/imo:8617445/vessel:CORWITH_CRAMER

Please note: The information on the location of the vessel is not always updated regularly. If you notice the vessel staying in the same location for extended periods of time, it simply means the website has not updated recently.

 

 

 

 

 

“Ship, Shipmate, Self”: Days One and Two aboard the Corwith Cramer

This ship is a world, both large and small, and full of lines and knots and pins and cleats, of anemometers and antennae, of sophisticated tools for taking advantage of the vectors of wind and water.

By Shawn Rosenheim, Williams-Mystic Spring 2018 Faculty Fellow 

 

A Note from the Author

Hello.  Welcome to my blog for the S’18 Williams-Mystic voyage aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer.  Our twenty students are drawn from all over the United States: from Rhode Island and Connecticut, but also Texas and Alaska, and many parts in between.  We’re led by Tim Pusack, the Williams-Mystic marine ecologist, and Rachel Scudder, the program’s current oceanographer.  I’m Shawn Rosenheim, the first Williams-Mystic residential fellow from Williams College, where I usually teach American literature and film studies.  I’ll be blogging our trip every couple of days.

January 28

Up at 0200 for an early flight out of Hartford.  We arrive in San Juan midmorning and are onboard the Corwith Cramer before lunch, which we eat on deck, surrounded by frigate birds and pelicans.  Over lunch I ask Rachel if she’s nervous about the trip.  “Not at all,” she says.  “The time I’m nervous is in the planning.  I’ve done this kind of thing so many times that once I’m here, I’m home.”

The ship looks smaller than I expected, especially moored as it is across from La Suprema, an enormous box-like ferry imported from Palermo to provide temporary housing for 3000 FEMA contractors.  And yet: when I gaze at the rope ladder rising up 90 or 100 feet through the Cramer’s rigging, my body reconsiders the judgment of my eyes.  This ship is a world, both large and small, and full of lines and knots and pins and cleats, of anemometers and antennae, of sophisticated tools for taking advantage of the vectors of wind and water.

We’re not quite ready to start our journey, though: first, we have to be educated in the operation of the ship’s systems by its professional crew.  We tour the boat, from the bilge to the rigging.  It’s a lot to take in. Jason Quilter, our captain, describes the glut of information given to students the first couple days as drinking from a firehose.  That feels about right.  Still, I’m all ears when Abby Cazeault, the ship’s first science officer, explains why it’s crucial to keep hydrochloric acid outside the science center and away from the formalin: “because mixing those two is how you make mustard gas.”

It’s very pleasant, dockside, with a breeze that keeps the heat down.  Just outside the harbor, though, it’s a different story, with strong winds and seas of up to 18 feet.  We’re effectively pinned down for the time being.  The students use the time to practice the watches they have begun keeping, one each hour around the clock. These will continue till the end of our voyage.

January 29

Still pinned down.  We practice drills for man overboard and fire, and raise the forestays’l for the first time.  In the afternoon, we break from the ship to explore the oldest parts of San Juan.  We start atop the promontory at the harbor entrance at El Morro, with sweeping views of the incoming waves, then wander through narrow streets and have a coffee or ice cream. Much has been replastered and repainted, but it’s hard to avoid evidence of physical and economic devastation.  It’s high season here, but we don’t see many tourists.

Back on the ship, I’m struck again by the ship’s visible intricacy, and by the correspondingly complex language used to name the Cramer’s parts and functions.  There are over 200 different lines, and woe to him who confuses his stays’l with his painter.  At the same time, shipboard language is also often simple, memorable, and moral.  Teaching us how to set up and break down lines, Christine McCormick, the third mate, tells us “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast,” expertly demonstrating the truth of her claims with her deft manipulations.  “Pretty works,” she adds, and shows us what she means: the lines, it seems, want to be arranged in satisfying patterns.  Shipboard aesthetics is apparently not all that different from shipboard ethics.

Most striking of all is the phrase “ship, shipmate, self.”  We hear this several times a day: a code of behavior in three words.  College education usually shies away from such direct injunctions.  In this context, though, it’s hard to resist.  Dependent as each of us will be on the ship and its crew, taking care of those first is just good sense. The students seem to be taking the adage to heart.  Everyone is eager to embark, but when it’s decided that we need to stay tied up for another night, I don’t hear even a peep of complaint.


Track Our Progress!

You can follow the Cramer‘s journey at this link: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:426493/mmsi:366724450/imo:8617445/vessel:CORWITH_CRAMER

 

Please note: The information on the location of the vessel is not always updated regularly. If you notice the vessel staying in the same location for extended periods of time, it simply means the website has not updated recently.