SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
C251 Web Blog - 24 March 2014
Christiansted Harbor, St. Croix, USVI
Sunny and 82° with trade winds out of the East at 10 knots
Just a few short hours ago, we made our way with all hands on deck into Christiansted Harbor escorted by dolphins playing in our bow wake. The securing of the Corwith Cramer‘s dock lines to the pier in Gallows Bay marks the end of our six-week journey that began in a former maritime center of the Spanish Caribbean and continued on to three former English sugar island colonies before we cleared back into United States waters in St. John.
From a Maritime Studies perspective, this voyage was one of great discoveries. Antiguas tourism industry was far more complex than our readings suggested, and Bequia‘s maritime heritage was still a clear and essential aspect of the islands culture, allowing island residents to shape the tourism business rather than being shaped by it. In Montserrat, students and crew alike were awestruck with the signs of physical damage and economic and social upheaval wrought by the active Soufrière Hills volcano. Perhaps most obvious in Montserrat, but also a key element in all of our port stops, was the creative ways that island residents found to overcome periodic or ongoing hardships and make ends meet. This was a topic of discussion for morning Maritime Studies sessions while we were traveling between ports.
Of course, the time between ports was also time spent mastering the practical aspects of sailing a tall ship and deploying science equipment. From my position outside of the watch schedule, I was privileged to see the full transformation of students from inexperienced to fully integrated crew members of this sail training and research vessel. The commands that were initially so mysterious and perhaps nerve-wracking became familiar and executed with confidence. They now know the lines to haul, ease and tend to brace sharp, set the four lowers and sail full and by on a starboard tack. This is now a group of sailing researchers who can heave to for science, prepare the hydro winch and ready the J-frame for a deployment. But perhaps most importantly, they have learned that the ship only functions as well as each one of its separate parts, and they know how to get the best out of themselves and each other to safely navigate and take care of the Corwith Cramer for a six-week voyage.