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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
August 06, 2015
Our Concept Map
Docked in Cadiz, Spain
No sailing plan – at least, not one that includes the majority of the current ship’s company
2 cruise ships with their company of tourists and more than twenty locals that asked me about the ship in “Castellano.” I was happy to act as the unofficial student interpreter
Today was our last full day onboard the Corwith Cramer. And our last full day together in Spain. And the last thing any of us felt like doing was returning to the ship at 1630 instead of 2300 to present our final “school project” – a concept map. Our professor, Dan Brayton, had stressed the important of this poster/art project communicating a concept that linked what we had learned – about history, about the ship and how to sail – with our own lives.
And that got me thinking about what concept really means. My project was a compilation of every single blog post that you see before you. With it, I shared some of my final thoughts about this trip. They are below:
This entire trip was born of a concept.
Someone said, “Wouldn’t it be great to teach a small group of college students how to sail a tall ship?” Someone said, “Wouldn’t it be great to take them on a tour of major seaports of ancient Europe?” Someone said, “Let’s hold class on the Quarter Deck of a tall ship that rocks them half to sleep after mid-watch (2300 to 0300). Let’s take them across the Atlantic coast of Western Europe and let them grow in ways that they cannot imagine.”
And, then there were our concepts, our preconceptions about what this would be.
We, the students, looked at a Facebook ad, a brochure, a web page and said yes to something we could barely understand. Said yes to dawn-watch and clam chowder spilling in the galley and too many nights of too little sleep and pouring rain and freezing wind and stubbed toes and cut fingers.
And, we said yes to sunsets and sunrises over the open ocean, to dolphins leaping at the bow and a whale’s spout on the horizon and hikes across ancient castles and climbing the foremast to look down and see just how small we are. We said yes to an idea. A crazy plan that had no rational basis,. Except that it did. To us.
This trip became a living concept.
A concept of the “eternity of the sea” and the power of friendship. Because we kept each other going. Because of each other, we woke up laughing at 3 AM and fell asleep at 11 AM with a smile on our face. Because of each other, we pulled harder on the halyard, climbed higher on the mast, ran faster when we were late for curfew while docked.
It was a concept called adventure.
It can be mapped out in our words. I invite you to read each blog post carefully. Look at how we grew. Look at how we changed.
Everything is linked. Common themes, the same sentiment and the same restless drive to take in every last moment.
Since today was our last day, after the poster presentation, we had a small party of sorts. Part talent show, part sing-along, part just plain hanging out with friends, we sat in the sunset on our Quarter deck and toasted “Mama Cramer,” Neptune, the crew and each other. I remember seeing that the last post from the previous group to use The Cramer was titled “An apology to our family and friends.” I remember thinking how strange that was. I think I get it; it was an apology because we will never fully be able to explain this trip to someone who has not experienced it. So I leave you with a poem I wrote during our long sea voyage. It is a response to “Sea Fever” by John Masefield.
“Sea Fever” By John Masefield
And by Me
I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
And the wheel’s kick and the whites sail’s shaking
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and the grey dawn breaking
I’m flying over the Sea today, salt wind in my hair
The sun is bright, the wind is strong, the waves are tall and fair
Sails are taut and anchors up as we sail across the Sea
I didn’t know – how could I know – what it would mean to me
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call and may not be denied
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying
And the flung spray and the blown spume and the seagulls crying
I’m singing over the Sea today as the tide comes rushing in
The creek of sail, sweet symphony, borne far by the sea-wind
And I know my song will be carried far over rushing tides
To fill the troughs between the waves, a method true and tried
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over
I’m wondering with the Sea again, that fountain of truth
How rolling ship and salty spray and hard work leads to youth –
Youth that can see with eyes, mind, and heart, and aren’t afraid of –
Of breaking down and building up and giving in to love
I must go down to the Sea again
That is what we’ll say
When all we have left are memories of sun, storm, Sea, and spray
And written words and kilobytes of data on a web
While a different web did tangle us like sails on the ocean’s bed
I must go down to the Sea again
Thanks for everything.