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Current position of the SSV Corwith Cramer. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the layer tools, top right, to change the map style or to view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

February 20, 2015

Old San Juan Port Stop

Jeffrey M. Schell, Chief Scientist

Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

Captain Bill and Migdalia Pinkney, on the quarterdeck of the SSV Corwith Cramer, captivate the students and crew of C257 with their stories!

Ship's Log

Alongside the dock in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Taffrail Log (nm)
0.0 nautical miles, but not for much longer!

Wind and Weather
As we near the time of departure all hands are beginning to look ahead; what are the winds and weather going to be once we leave the protected harbor of Old San Juan?  Based on the vigorous snapping of our flags high up on the mast, we can expect some sporty conditions tomorrow with the winds from the East North East (ENE). 

Souls on Board

As prudent mariners it is always important to look ahead and plan accordingly, but as an academic, I will take the time to also summarize what the students have been doing the last 24 hours. 

After a busy day of travel and several hours of shipboard training, the students quickly retired to their bunks last night.  All reported having slept well in their new home and were ready for the day's adventure to start at the leisurely hour of 0645.  By 0800 all students had eaten and made ready for their first academic field trip about Old San Juan with Dr Craig Marin (Assistant Professor - Maritime Studies).  Their circuitous route through the blue bricked streets of this port city revealed the unique history of this former Spanish colony, including the impressive fortifications of El Morro which protected the harbor against attack from competing colonial powers - including a failed attempt by English privateer Sir Francis Drake in 1595. 

By mid-day students were given a few hours to explore Old San Juan on their own and make necessary observations specific to their individual research projects.  Toni visited City Hall and spoke with city employees that deal with waste management issues in Puerto Rico; Thomas met with Director of Flamboyan Foundation (, Dr. Katherine Miranda, also a Professor at the University of Puerto Rico, to discuss K-12 education initiatives; Kat and I visited a local beach to survey the amount and type of marine debris washing ashore on Puerto Rico's lovely beaches, while Emily visited a local museum with a few of her classmates to see an exhibit of Taino artifacts - the indigenous people who were eradicated from Puerto Rico by colonizing Spaniards about 500 years ago.

The rest of the afternoon was spent back onboard the Corwith Cramer with another round of training stations including:  line handling skills, Lab safety, Engine room safety, and Watch Quarter Station Bill.  The latter
training introduces each student to their respective responsibilities during various emergency scenarios, such as Fire, Man Overboard, and Prepare to Abandon Ship.  If the students had forgotten, they were quickly reminded that they are indeed integral members of the ship's crew with real responsibility and accountability to each other.  It was heartening to see the attentiveness of each student during this important lesson. 

To cap off a day already full of learning, the entire crew was fortunate to meet Captain William (Bill) Pinkney and his wife Migdalia Vachier Pinkney. Captain Pinkney is renowned for many reasons, which he spoke of including his time sailing solo round the world (1st African American to do so), his time as Captain onboard the replica Amistad, and his time sailing to Africa and Cuba on a mission of peace and remembrance.  His wife spoke of her time growing up in Puerto Rico as a mixed race (African and French) woman who speaks Spanish, and the challenges and opportunities this presented to 'fit in' with her peers in Puerto Rico, New York City, and Pennsylvania.  Both Bill and Migdalia were a joy to speak with, and we were thrilled to have them join us for dinner and conversation that continued long into the evening. It was a tremendous honor to have them both onboard the Cramer. For future students, I am glad to say that we will have this opportunity the next time we visit Puerto Rico since Captain Pinkney happens to be an Overseer for Sea Education Association. 

Whoa.  And to think, we are just getting started.  Stay tuned as this grand academic adventure continues. 



Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Tess Hooper on March 02, 2015

Hey Jeff!!
It’s Tess here from C-250. I hope everything is going well onboard Mama Cramer this go around in the Caribbean! I miss you guys greatly, and I wish I was there with you, Sarah, and Craig. I’ll definitely be keeping up with the blog as you guys sail. This track and schedule seems much different than ours! Pretty neat. Hope you guys are having fun! Miss you all,



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