A Small Ode to the Country of Ireland and to S’22

by SJ Brusini (S’22)

In the great Venn diagram between Williams-Mystic and Ireland, I did not expect the overlap to be bagpipe music. 

Having just come fresh out of a spring semester filled with spider crabs, oblong grapes, and flat sandwiches on Sunday (you just had to be there), going across the Atlantic felt like the farthest thing I could possibly imagine from the quaint seaside energy of Mystic, CT. It felt like I had barely moved out of Carr House when my lab group was packing up and hopping on a flight into Dublin. The aim of the journey? Assorted geoscience research under the incredible Rónadh Cox (say hi to her for me, F’22 and S’23), looking at subtidal boulder deposits and the encrusting marine organisms living on them. Me and my thesis partner were joined by her two underclassmen research assistants were headed over there to study coastal boulder beaches and their properties. A third underclassman researcher wrote music based on waves and boulders.

The actual research was mostly measuring boulders. Actually, it was almost completely measuring boulders, with the occasional foray into the tidepools – I got to find some European green crabs (C. maenas) in their natural, non-invasive, non-Weekapaug Point habitat! My personal highlight was finding an ovigerous green crab at Waterville Beach in County Kerry, after having found so few green crabs over the course of the semester. After being in the field all day, my lab group and I then got to discover our hidden passion for things like digestive biscuits, the TV program “Great Lighthouses of Ireland,” and unplanned caving expeditions. We didn’t get much time for sightseeing, but we did get to see Céide Fields (the oldest stone-walled settlement in the world), Doolin Cave’s Great Stalactite (the longest free-hanging stalactite in Europe), and the beautiful Cliffs of Moher.

On the last day of the trip, we wound up in Dublin for the afternoon to explore. After a pit stop at the Trinity College geoscience building and the sweetest boba I’ve ever had, we stopped to listen to a man who was playing the bagpipes on the side of the street. Almost immediately, I couldn’t help but be reminded of S’22’s spider crab release procession, accompanied by a bagpipe serenade from our own Declan Houlihan. I expected bagpipe music in Ireland, but I didn’t expect it to be the thing that made me feel so close to Williams-Mystic. It was then that I really started to realize: pieces of Williams-Mystic and Spring ‘22 are going to come with me wherever I go, no matter how far away from Mystic I am. Whether it’s Rónadh joking with her brother over the van walkie-talkies, cooking with my lab group at night, or my partner texting me pictures of the crabs we did our project on, my semester on Greenmanville Ave is going to stick. S’22, you have a death grip on my heart. You taught me to be adventurous, to embrace my inner weirdness, and to treat every place like it’s my classroom. They can take me away from the crab bagpipe procession, but they sure can’t take the crab bagpipe procession away from me. Long live Jomothy.

~ this blog post in memoriam of Diane and co, fly high our dear crabby friends~

A Williams-Mystic Message-in-a-Bottle Comes Ashore! (12 years later!)

By James T. Carlton (Emeritus)

Carlton is a Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences and Director Emeritus of Williams-Mystic (Curriculum Vitae)

In September 2010, the Williams-Mystic class prepared messages-in-glass bottles on the Cramer to be set free in the Gulf of Maine as part of a large-scale drift experiment. However, the Cramer was never far enough offshore to release the bottles during the trip. Captain Sean Bercaw released F10’s bottles a few weeks later on October 6 when bringing Cramer down from Rockland ME to Woods Hole, in the middle of the Gulf during storm force winds and in 18-20 foot seas – enough ocean energy to send the bottles packing into the open North Atlantic.

On March 18, 2022, almost 11 ½ years later, British physician Dr. Ryan Watkins, on a visit to Windermere Island, Eleuthera, in the Bahamas, found F10 Nicola Klee’s bottle on the beach. Dr. Ryan kindly sent us (and Nicola) a picture of the bottle and her message. We’ve prepared a snapshot of the bottle to highlight that there were still living oceanic goose barnacles Lepas on the bottle, which tells us that the bottle had washed ashore perhaps a few hours before. 

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Where had Nicola’s bottle been all these years?

Well, if you reach over and grab your copy of the Williams-Mystic 25th Anniversary Book, and open to page 47 – we’ll give you a second – you’ll get a good sense of the journey that the bottle took, and for how long.

Bottles that were released in October 1984 by F84, off the coast of New England, landed in the Azores, Europe, Bermuda, and multiple times in the Bahamas until September 1991(Jim tells us that a few more F84 bottles were reported in subsequent years). The pattern of their discovery revealed that some bottles had gone around the North Atlantic Ocean perhaps as many as four or five times before landing!

We think Nicola’s bottle has been bobbing around and around … and around … the North Atlantic Ocean at least a few times – and the barnacles confirm it was recently out on the high seas. Finally, enough was enough, and the bottle followed its predecessors ashore in the Caribbean!

Feeding That Sense of Purpose: Zach Arfa (F’19)

By Hayden Gillooly (S’19)

Hayden Gillooly is an alum of Williams College, Class of 2021. She now works as the Assistant Director of Admissions for Overland Summers.

In Zach Arfa’s (F19) senior year at Oberlin College, he received an email from Williams-Mystic asking if he wanted to study the ocean. The program sounded so neat, that Zach wondered whether it was real. He researched the program, applied, and was enrolled within a week. As a Dance and Psychology double major, Zach brought a unique perspective to his Williams-Mystic semester, intersecting the arts with science.

My conversation with Zach covered everything from his experience catching salmon with his bare hands during his Williams-Mystic Alaska field seminar, to understanding climate-related trauma through a psychological lens. I could have listened to Zach talk for hours—his face lit up while leapfrogging between topics. I felt like a student in class with a favorite professor, furiously writing down notes—trying to capture it all— and completely captivated by the energy that Zach emits.

For the last few years, Zach worked at the Hilltown Youth Recovery Theater, doing movement and circus arts with teenagers who are overcoming trauma and addiction. Now, Zach is currently working for Americorps through a disaster relief program. He was deployed in Louisiana, and then in Texas, and recently moved again to Kentucky to help rebuild and do mold remediation. I was immediately curious to hear about what it’s like to enter communities whose infrastructure has been ravaged by natural disasters. “They said that if you’ve seen one disaster, you’ve seen one disaster,” Zach said, matter of factly. Each situation is unique. There is little separation between one’s work in this field, and their “off” hours, since so much of the experience requires workers to live in the disaster zone, too. Zach and his coworkers were living in an RV, eating frozen meals, and working 12-14 hours six days a week. 

Zach explained how stress is, at its core, a physical process. “It lives in our bodies”—with tension and electrical signals. We often think of stress as a “cognitive and emotional thing,” however, “it’s kind of nebulous (in our colloquial understanding), even though we all feel it.” It sometimes feels all-encompassing, when in reality, there are pinpointable components of stress within us. Perhaps it’s in our tensed shoulders, or locked jaw. Studying dance in conjunction with psychology has allowed Zach to “reconceptualize it [stress] as this physical sensation.” 

For Zach, movement—in both big and small ways—allows him to reconnect with his body even in the times of most intense stress. This is especially important when Zach is “engaged with situations where the stakes couldn’t be any higher,” such as working on the frontlines of disaster relief. Zach shared a strategy that one of his dance professors uses during times when she is busy and overwhelmed with deadlines. It’s not necessarily about big, grandiose movements—it’s about “feeling the weight of the library doors while entering and tracing the little pen movement that creates vibrations, or the weight of the lawn mower.” Zach believes that “attention to these moments of our day that we take for granted can be that respite.” Since chatting with Zach about this technique, I’ve integrated into my own life—being intentional about noticing the feeling of the snow crunching beneath my boots, and my fingers tapping on my keyboard. Our bodies are a miracle, really—our heart beating and lungs filling with air, without us asking them to. Savoring these small touch-points feels like an expression of gratitude. 

As two Williams-Mystic alumni, our conversation naturally shifted to focus on environmentalism. Approaching climate studies from a psychological lens, Zach wonders “how do you face an existential crisis in the face and not get paralyzed?” He discussed recently listening to the podcast Drilled, which dives into the cover-up strategies of the oil industry, and explores just how much these companies knew and know. Zach explained how the companies’ strategies are to put the blame onto consumers—to make us feel as if all of the environmental degradation is a result of the inaction of individuals. This feeling is engrained “deep in us, and fits in with a culture of individualism—it’s the American myth that we think we’re strong individuals.” When, in reality, it is the systems set up by those large companies that are responsible for the climate crisis. In other words, it’s not the fact that you drive your car to work every day, but the fact that the only way to get to work on time is to travel on roads with a certain speed limit and vehicle type requirement that only cars fulfill, and no other option is easily available. The strategy of  the anti climate change action organizations is to “dilute the issue to make it seem like individuals in isolation can do anything.” We need to be thinking about systems; not just how we get better cars, but how we get better roads. As we grapple with the emotions related to climate change Zach said that “we don’t need to feel the guilt and shame as strongly as we do.” 

Strong approaches to addressing systemic issues must be rooted in building connections. “It’s too much to put on ourselves. We need to hold this [trauma and stress] together,” Zach explained. And processing these nuanced and complicated topics together isn’t about “getting rid of the hopelessness and fear,” because all of our emotions are valid. It’s about holding these feelings together through all of the trials and tribulations of our changing world. 

After the Williams-Mystic Louisiana field seminar, Zach felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of struggles that Lousianans are facing as a result of climate change. In Zach’s time processing his role in these large-scale issues, a quote attributed to 16th century theologian, Martin Luther, stuck with him. Martin Luther was asked, “What would you do if you knew the world was ending tomorrow?” Luther replied, “I would plant a tree.”  

Whether it be helping to pick up the pieces after a natural disaster, or working with young people to spark their joy and enthusiasm about movement and dance—the work that Zach is doing certainly plants seeds of change. Zach explained how the work “doesn’t have to be huge and dramatic. It just has to be engaging, and feeding that sense of purpose to do good work.” Knowing that special people like Zach are ‘planting trees’ for our future makes me feel hopeful about the world that we live in.

Image taken from zacharfa.com

Updates From Offshore: Chief Scientist Tim Pusack

Hello All!!! WM F’21 is on the Corwith Cramer for their sea adventure. The
first few days have been very busy getting settled in, learning the ways of the ship, starting science, and getting use to the motion of the ocean. Over the past five days we have done quite a bit.

After many important orientations to the ship, We left Rockland, ME on Wednesday 9/22 and got to “swing the compass.” This means that we had to establish the deviation for Cramer. What does this mean? We are on a steel sailing vessel, which as you might imagine, would affect what our compass reads. All ship have some sort of deviation which you have to account for when plotting a course. During the yard period prior to our boarding, Cramer was hauled out, as she usually is for maintenance, and had a good amount of welding done. This affected the previous deviation and so we needed to establish new deviation. Once that was complete we then needed to navigate the labyrinth of lobster traps that expand near shore all over Maine.

Once we successfully navigated that tangle of traps we were free to use the ample wind, which was blowing 10-20 knots. This was a good strong breeze for use to make 7 knots, but also meant a 4-6 ft swell which caused many of the students to hope for the sea legs as soon as possible. The students slowly have gained the sea legs and as the conditions calmed down Saturday night all are feeling much better. We recently had a class on the “greenhand” experience, which they all could relate to.

While underway the students have been learning their lines, setting sails, and doing science. Science has been happening at all hours of the day, for science never sleeps. So far we have trawled for creatures of the ocean realm, collect sediments from the sea floor, and captured water from the depths. Every day we collected a variety of information to maintain a continuous log of oceanographic factors. We have also completed two of our three super stations which include deploying a CTD, which measures salinity, temperature, and depth, on our hydrocast which captures waters from depths chosen by our students to test a hypothesis. We have a lot more science to come with presentations ahead.

Today was Sunday 9/26 and after a rainy morning doing science the sun came
out and we had a beautiful afternoon sail. All in all, we are all in good spirits and looking forward to fair winds as we continue to explore the ocean, push beyond our comfort zones, and add memories to each of our life stories. 

Chief Scientist Tim Pusack

Adventuring through Storytelling: Svati Kirsten Narula F’11

Svati said that what makes a good story “changes depending on where you’re working and who you’re pitching to.” The key to the strongest stories, she notes is, “Being able to say something surprising about something that affects a lot of people and they don’t realize it…”

Written by Hayden Gillooly S’19

Hayden is a senior Geoscience major at Williams College, with concentrations in Spanish and Maritime Studies. She is a Spring 2019 alumni of the Williams-Mystic Program.

“Williams-Mystic made me reconsider what I wanted to do and opened up the idea that anything I could do could be interdisciplinary. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do [after graduation], and journalism is very interdisciplinary because you can write about human interest, crime, science. There are a lot of different subjects that you have to put your feet into. And you hop around as we did during Williams-Mystic.”

Svati Kirsten Narula, F’11, loves storytelling and is magnificent at it. She’s written a diverse range of stories including one about the 38th voyage of Mystic Seaport’s very own Charles W. Morgan, what it’s like to live in an underwater habitat , and the potential of oysters to help protect coastlines from the impact of hurricanes. Though Svati doesn’t just write about topics that connect to the ocean, she feels that if she “hadn’t gone to Williams-Mystic and seen how maritime topics and ocean can be connected to everything,” that she “would not have written so many ocean stories in my first year of journalism.” She added, “I did a couple of stories about the intersection of economics and the ocean, and I don’t think I could’ve pitched those stories if I hadn’t been to Williams-Mystic.” Svati has worked at The Atlantic, Outside Magazine, and Quartz, and is currently the Digital Editor for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. In writing stories, Svati deeply appreciates and loves “the intersection of adventure and science.” 

When asked about her favorite Williams-Mystic memories, Svati, like most alumni of the program, couldn’t choose at first. “A real big highlight for me was my west coast seminar which was California. I loved caravaning up and down the coast and belting out music and becoming close,” her smile grew while talking, and I was reminded of my fond memories singing in the vans with my own classmates. It seems that there are threads throughout all semesters; moments that stand out for us all as special, fun, and impactful. “That was the trip where I bonded the most with my fellow shipmates. And getting out and running on the sand every beach stop. And seeing professors’ personalities when they’re driving you in the car.” 

For Svati, these bonds forged in Mystic, CT, and across the country on field seminars, have remained strong. In fact, she FaceTimes frequently with one classmate, though they have not seen each other in person in 10 years. “It’s been really gratifying to stay in touch with several of my shipmates from F’ll,” Svati says. “They were some of the strongest friendships I made during my college years.” We discussed how Williams-Mystic allows students to build relationships at an almost unparalleled depth, due to the fact that you travel, live, and learn with each other constantly. Williams-Mystic classmates see all of each other’s highs and lows, and support each other through it all. Svati added, with a tinge of nostalgia, “I almost wish all four years of college could have been like that.” 

Svati said that what makes a good story “changes depending on where you’re working and who you’re pitching to.” The key to the strongest stories, she notes is, “Being able to say something surprising about something that affects a lot of people and they don’t realize it,” such as “how horseshoe crab blood is important for the creation of vaccines and modern drugs.”

“There was one story that I wrote that went viral, about the history of exploding whales, based on the news that one dead whale was possibly about to blow up on a beach in Ireland. It was easy to make the connection between this event and the famous Oregon whale explosion of 1970, which there’s video footage of, so I wrote the story up in just 30 minutes and it ended up doing much better—as far as getting read and shared on social media—than other stories I had worked for days or weeks on.” 

In April 2015, Svati was at Base Camp at Mount Everest for a journalism project when an avalanche ravaged the mountain following an earthquake. In fact, Svati brought her Williams-Mystic duffle bag on her trip (which was unfortunately lost during the fiasco)! At Base Camp, Svati was given a glimpse into a unique culture and world of Everest climbers and enthusiasts; people who dream their whole life of conquering the enormity and standing at the top of the Earth. She described that “growing up, I loved reading stories about mountain climbers but never thought I could be a part of that world. Mount Everest base camp has its own rules and cultures and the people there have different priorities than people in New York City where I was living.” 

Though she felt like “an outsider in a harsh place,” Svati said that “it was amazing to have Everest looming over you. You begin to understand why people want to climb it. A lot of people want to climb it and don’t need to go there first to know that. For me, being in the present and trekking through that little bit of Nepal, and the local food and breathing that high thin air is kind of intoxicating in its own way. And it’s cool that storytelling allowed me to do that.” 

A difference between Svati and the climbers was that “The climbers there were more prepared to possibly die, so they weren’t as shaken up as I was by the earthquake and the avalanche. Many people went right back the next year. They had their dream disrupted by a force of nature totally out of their control, and they jus twanted to go back and make their dream happen. At first, I thought they were totally crazy, but now I, too, would go back if I could.” Svati explained that the experience of being at Mount Everest during an avalanche highlighted life’s fragility, but that the rush of being in the face of such beauty has encouraged her to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences. She said that it’s important to her “to try and collect as many experiences as I can” and that “to get experiences, you have to be open and cultivate openness.” 

When asked about the role that storytelling and narrative play in increasing engagement with sustainable behavior and raising awareness about the urgency of climate change, Svati responded, “I think it’s huge. So many people will never get the opportunity to see trash in the ocean up close because not everyone lives close to the ocean. The vast majority of us won’t have a chance to see how sea ice is melting. I interviewed a scientist recently who is studying arctic sea ice up close. Most of us get our ideas about this topic from storytelling in the media—that’s all we have for those of us that can’t experience things first hand. I’ve seen the photographs, and the articles, but asking people who have experienced it firsthand again and again is how we get closer and closer to understanding things.” Svati then reflected on a phrase from Williams-Mystic Marine Policy Professor Katy Robinson Hall S’84, that has resonated with her: “we protect what we value and we value what we know.” 

Svati closed our conversation by saying that “A sense of adventure could mean saying yes to a new job or choosing to move across the country. It doesn’t have to be traveling to Mount Everest.” Hearing stories of Svati’s bravery made me think about how we all need to have our own Everests: the passions and goals that ignite a fire within us and encourage us to lean into discomfort and newness with grace. What’s yours? 

Williams-Mystic S’20 Over the Puerto Rico Trench

On our third full day aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, we are heading toward the Puerto Rico trench on calm water under a sky full of bright stars. Students are quickly learning the onboard routines and becoming valuable members of the crew.

January 29, 2020

Greetings from Williams-Mystic S’20! On our third full day aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, we are heading toward the Puerto Rico trench on calm water under a sky full of bright stars.

Tuesday afternoon, we held classes on deck. Professor Kelly Bushnell led a discussion on the “greenhand” (nautical terminology meaning a newbie on a ship) experience in literature, such as Herman Melville’s Redburn (1849). In the finest tradition of maritime literature, many of us are also keeping a journal of the voyage; when not on watch, you can find us relaxing on deck, pen in hand.

In our nautical science class, Captain Heather and the mates taught us to set, strike, and furl sails.  Some were so heavy it took many of us to haul the line. Throughout the days and nights, we are standing watch on deck and in the lab, to sail the ship and collect oceanographic data, respectively. Students are quickly learning the onboard routines and becoming valuable members of the crew.

In the onboard science lab, students are analyzing hourly surface samples for pH levels, microplastics, and more with the help of three assistant scientists.  We learned how use the ship’s hydrowinch to deploy scientific equipment, and each watch completed a Neuston tow yesterday to collect whatever is drifting at the very surface of the water. Sargassum is easiest to see from the ship, but tiny zooplankton also end up in our net for analysis on board.  In particular, we had some beautiful siphonophores, which Maggie from Carnegie Mellon and Casandra from Bryn Mawr reported on in class Wednesday.

Leaning over the raining of a ship, four students stare into the water at a small, cylindrical net dangling from a rope just at the water's surface
Maggie from Carnegie Mellon, Alex from SUNY Maritime, and Jade from Skidmore deploy a phytoplankton net with Assistant Scientist Grayson.

For much of Wednesday, we were accompanied by a curious minke whale. Because it was so calm, and because she was so close, we could hear her breathing and see her fin.  She showed us her underside and criss-crossed under the hull multiple times. We watched in awe.

You can follow the Cramer’s progress here:


Please note that vessel tracking information is NOT updated continuously and the Cramer isn’t always able to provide updated location information. (Good reception isn’t a guarantee at sea!) If you notice that the Cramer appears to be in the same location for an extended period of time, it simply means the website has not yet been updated.

You can also look back at blog posts from previous Offshore Field Seminars here: https://williamsmystic.wordpress.com/category/field-seminars/offshore-field-seminar/.

Setting Sail, Take Two: Kathryn Jackson’s (S’17) Offshore Voyage Journey

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. 

When Kathryn Jackson (S’17) began her Williams-Mystic semester, the opportunity to sail in the Caribbean aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer was one of the experiences she most looked forward to. Her class’s sailing voyage had just begun when an unfortunate event altered Kathryn’s experience.

Kathryn after breaking her elbow.

“Day two was fine. That night at 11:30 our watch was striking the JT [jib tops’l] and I fell and broke my elbow,” Kathryn said. The ship’s crew stepped in to care for Kathryn, determining that Kathryn would need to depart the ship to recover. Two days later, the Cramer had returned to port so Kathryn could board a flight home, where she would spend the rest of class’s offshore voyage.

As Kathryn made the journey from the ship to shore aboard a small boat, she still couldn’t believe that her offshore voyage was over.

As it turns out, there was one last, almost magical experience in store.

‘The third mate, the medical officer, [ Williams-Mystic oceanography professor Lisa Gilbert (S’96)] and I were sitting on the rescue boat looking at a rainbow right over San Juan harbor and then two dolphins [surfaced] under the rainbows,” Kathryn recalled. It was precisely the kind of moment that Kathryn had been dreaming of since her semester began. This was also the moment she realized, without a doubt, that her elbow was broken and her voyage had to end. 

Throughout the rest of their voyage, Kathryn’s classmates made sure to include her in their experiences. They kept a journal for her, for instance.

“The class carried a cardboard cut out of my head around on the ship and even tried to take it snorkeling,” Kathryn said. “There is a photo of our whole class on the beach in St. Croix where it looks like I was there.”

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 12.59.01 AM
S’17 on the beach in St. Croix. If you look closely, you can see the cardboard cutout of Kathryn.

Kathryn was invited to join a future semester’s Offshore Voyage to make up for the journey she had missed.

In the meantime, though, there was the rest of the semester to complete. Kathryn enjoyed the academics of the program. She especially relished exploring topics from different perspectives.

“I loved the policy class. I liked picking my own [research] project and thought the interviews were eye-opening because you were talking to people from both sides and made you think about your stance,” Kathryn said.

For Kathryn, it’s small moments with her classmates such as late-night study sessions that stand out. She felt close to her professors, too, and appreciated being able to talk with them about anything and everything. 

Kathryn completed her Williams-Mystic semester. She graduated from Millersville University with a degree in Marine Biology in 2018.

But her Williams-Mystic experience wasn’t quite finished yet. Two years after her own semester began, at the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester, Kathryn was able to return to William-Mystic for the Spring 2019 students’ Offshore Voyage — also in the Caribbean aboard the Corwith Cramer. 

Initially, Kathryn felt nervous about her return, and about sailing with a class that was not her own. From the moment she stepped aboard, though, she was welcomed into the group. From there, much of the programming felt familiar.

Kathryn, third from right, with some of her S’19 shipmates

For Kathryn, the first three days of the voyage felt like a “refresher.”

“I remembered a lot more than I thought I would,” she reflected. “But then day four came and it felt different.”

With new challenges came new accomplishments.

“When our watch struck the Jib and I went out on the bowsprit to furl it, I felt so accomplished. … I am so thankful and blessed to have been able to sail again,” Kathryn said. “I am forever grateful to Williams-Mystic for giving me the opportunity for a second time.” 

S’19’s Offshore Field Seminar Begins!



When the Williams-Mystic Class of Spring 2019 arrived in Mystic to begin their semester this Monday, January 21, temperatures were barely above 0℉.

For week two of their semester, S’19 is facing a forecast with highs in the 80s as they embark on their 10-day Offshore Field Seminar aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer in the Caribbean.

They’ll be leaving Sunday, January 27 and returning on Wednesday, February 6. In the intervening days, S’19 students (accompanied by Williams-Mystic faculty and staff) will learn to work together to sail the Cramer under the guidance of a professional crew; engage in hands-on, scientific fieldwork with Williams-Mystic science faculty; and experience what it is like to live out of sight of land for days.

We’ll be posting updates from the class to this blog as they arrive. In the meantime, you can visit the link below to track the progress of the Cramer once S’19 sets sail!


Important Note: Vessel tracking information isn’t updated continuously and the Cramer isn’t always able to provide updated location information. (Good reception isn’t a guarantee at sea!) If you notice that the Cramer appears to be in the same location for an extended period of time, it simply means the website has not yet been updated.


Williams-Mystic as a Vehicle for Finding Your Passion: The Story of Derek Langhauser (F’82)

“I remember leaving my interview and thinking that I never wanted to do anything as much in my life as I wanted to do Williams-Mystic. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to participate in the program. It was the best educational experience I ever had.”

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. 

You’re a senior in high school. You’ve recently decided that Bates College is the place you are going to spend four of the most formative years of your life. Your friend, who is a few years older than you and attends Hamilton College, starts telling you about experiences to keep on your radar during your undergraduate career — including the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program.

Unbeknownst to you, you’ve just learned about a program that will add more to your life than words will ever be able to describe.

This is the beginning of  Derek Langhauser’s (F’82) Williams-Mystic story. To alumni, including myself, who attended Williams-Mystic after Fall 2006, Derek may look familiar. He is the man who came walking into the Kenner Room on a sunny, April afternoon before it was my class’s turn to participate in one of the biggest events of our marine policy class: Moot Court. One Friday every semester, Derek serves as Williams-Mystic’s own appellate court judge, presiding over our classroom-turned-courtroom as students sum up a week’s worth of studying and strategizing in three hours of carefully crafted legal arguments.

Derek Langhauser, third from right in the back row, with his Williams-Mystic classmates in Fall 1982.

Before the story unfolds of how Derek became Williams-Mystic’s appellate court judge, we have to finish the story of his Williams-Mystic experience in the fall of 1982.

After Derek was told about Williams-Mystic during his senior year of high school, he kept the idea of participating in the program in the back of his head. During his sophomore year, he decided to apply.

“I interviewed with Ben Labaree, the founder and executive director of the program,” Derek said. “I remember leaving the interview and thinking that I never wanted to do anything as much in my life as I wanted to do Williams-Mystic. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to participate in the program. It was the best educational experience I ever had.”

To this day, Derek’s best friends are connections he made through Williams-Mystic. At the time of our conversation, he had just gotten off the phone with one of his closest Williams-Mystic friends, who resides in Athens, Greece. Later that day, he was going to be calling another Williams-Mystic friend, who lives in Washington, D.C.

Derek said that being surrounded by these people and being part of this program was the first time he enjoyed learning and looked forward to going to class.

“The interdisciplinary aspect of Williams-Mystic is a vehicle for finding your passion,” Derek said. 

Following his semester at Williams-Mystic, Derek graduated from Bates College and attended the University of Maine School of Law. For his first job out of law school, he worked as a law clerk for two justices on the Maine Supreme Court. Over subsequent years, he served as chief counsel for the Maine governor’s office; went into private practice, where he represented iron-works shipbuilding; worked as special counsel for Senator Olympia Snowe; and worked as legal counsel for Maine Maritime Academy. Now, after serving as their general counsel for more than 20 years, Derek is the president of the Maine Community College System.

So, where does Williams-Mystic’s Moot Court come into play? Twelve years ago, the case Williams-Mystic students now devote a week of their lives to — Bell v. Town of Wells — was the topic of a significant policy issue in Maine. At the Williams-Mystic alumni reunion that year, Williams-Mystic policy professor Katy Robinson Hall (S’84) was discussing the policy class and later, Derek sent her the story of the case. Based off Derek’s recommendation, they decided to turn this case into the Moot Court experience.

Bell v. Town of Wells, known colloquially as the Moody Beach case, is a landmark beach access case that continues to be relevant today. Even still, Derek and Katy often make changes to the moot court packet students receive at the beginning of Moot Court Week. Two recent additions: An executive order and a citizen’s initiative, both created to help students reflect on the constitutional, balance-of-power themes underlying current events.

Derek said Moot Court helps educate undergraduate students on the importance of the separation of powers in the United States Constitution — and specifically, regarding the powers that are at play around the President under Article II of the document.

“Moot Court is not just about constitutional law or public beach access,” Derek said. “It is about what it means to make laws and what happens when individuals in charge of making laws go in different directions.”


Derek presides over Moot Court in Fall 2017.

You do not have to pursue a career in a maritime field to gain useful experience from this maritime program.

“The way this program goes about education is extraordinary,” Derek said. “What is so special about it is that it has a special focus that is a forum for skill and learning development. This is an aspect of a liberal arts education, and Williams-Mystic is uniquely better at it.”



Nickie Mitch (S’17) on Sustainability, the Environment, and his Williams-Mystic Semester

This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. 

States represented in recent Williams-Mystic classes include California, Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, and Ohio. During the spring 2017 semester, Indiana native Nickie Mitch experienced Williams-Mystic through the lens of a Bowdoin College student looking for something to add to his educational experience.

Nickie found out about Williams-Mystic the summer following his first year of college.

“I worked at a land trust, Damariscotta River Association, on the coast of Maine after my first year of college,” Nickie said. “The executive director of that organization had done Williams-Mystic while he was a student at Williams College and encouraged me to take a look at it.”

Nickie truly enjoyed his time at Bowdoin. His time at Williams-Mystic built on the skills he developed there.

“I had a great experience at Bowdoin that helped me discover my passions related to the ocean, so for me, Williams-Mystic really built on that as a chance to explore these topics I’m passionate about in a hands-on way,” Nickie said.

Sailing offshore was the highlight of Nickie’s Williams-Mystic experience.

Without a doubt, the offshore field seminar was my favorite. So many parts of it felt surreal, from watching a pod of dolphins swim alongside the Corwith Cramer at sunrise to standing at the helm during the middle of the night on dawn watch,” Nickie said. “It’s an experience that really pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a supportive way, and I think about it all the time.”

Nickie is the third member of the spring 2017 class that I have interviewed. Like Bridget Hall and Sarah Patulak, he enjoyed living in Albion House.

“Although we got to do a lot of very cool things during the semester, my favorite part was actually just living in Albion House with Paul, Bridget, and Sarah,” Nickie said. “We always made an effort to sit down for dinner together every day, among other things we did together, and it really felt like a little home.”


Ship, shipmate, self is a motto of Williams-Mystic. Nickie experienced his shipmates’ compassion at different times during the semester.

“Before the PNW road trip, I was trying to decide if I was going to take the outer shell of my winter coat as my only raincoat,” Nickie said. “I decided the day before we left that I needed to have a real raincoat and Bridget and I drove around all afternoon until I found one.”

Nickie studied government and environmental studies while at Bowdoin. During his time in Mystic, he really enjoyed Literature of the Sea with Mary K Bercaw Edwards.

“Mary K is awesome and her passion is infectious,” Nickie said. “The class gave me an appreciation for books I may not have ever been able to have an appreciation for.”

Nickie also appreciated the Maritime History class, specifically working on his project on the Greenland Patrol during World War II.

“That class had a lot of topics to cover. It really all came together well and painted this really impactful picture,” Nickie said. “When I went back to Bowdoin it helped me make so many connections in my studies.”

Nickie graduated from Bowdoin in the spring of 2018. 

“In the long term, I hope to be an urban/environmental planner and I am specifically interested in working to build resilient, sustainable communities that are ready for sea level rise,” Nickie said.

Nickie has this to say about what he took away from the program:

“Williams-Mystic affirmed for me that working collaboratively to protect marine and estuarine ecosystems is the best way to for me to help build a more sustainable, equitable world and is something worth devoting my life to,” Nickie said.