Ready for an adventure with a purpose? Request info »
  • Search SEA Semester, Summer and High School Programs
  • View SEA Semester campus visit calendar

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

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

July 08, 2015

Steering & Shipmates

Christina Quinn, Sewanee: The University of the South

The view out of Christina’s bunk.

Ship's Log

18°47.7 N x 158°54 W

Winds E 7-10 knots

Course steered

Ship speed
8 knots

Souls on Board

The day was introduced to me by a soft voice telling of a strong breeze and cloudy stars. Water swirled in and out of the porthole above my bunk as I secured a harness around my waist and climbed the pitching stairs to be given responsibility. In a rapidly-passing four-hour dawn watch, there is much to be done; I took the helm, hands twirling a classic wooden-spoked steering wheel, pulling 180° on the swaying compass towards center-line. The Robert C. Seamans tilts slightly towards starboard side, evidence of the winds propelling our sashaying swell and fall through the warm Pacific waters that occasionally spray playfully over the rail.

A new friend appeared by my side before I had the chance to tire. I relayed the ordered course to him and stood on the other side of the wheel to transfer my burgeoning understanding; Only an hour ago, I watched the ordered course swing uncontrollably out of reach, first left, then right, left, right. The boat pitched slightly more than usual as my muscles struggled to understand the forces at play. I felt a sense of growing camaraderie as my shipmate uneasily took the wheel, looking to me for guidance that I was able to confidently give.

As my comrade began to twirl the wheel with pride, pitching slowed; I stepped away from the helm and climbed below deck to check for anything astray. Rocking hallways passed me by bunks filled with precious sleeping bodies, resting safely and assuredly as my watch keeps vigil. All seeming in place, I sunk further into the ship’s engine room. The smell of grease reminds me of home; every time I descend into the warm bowel of the ship which holds the generators, controls, dials, and tools, my big brother’s presence fills my head. Without an old familiar face in sight, it is good to have memories of family and friends to return to.

All bilges empty of water and all machines operating well within safe boundaries, I climb back into the fresh, moving air and am told to relieve the lookout. I post myself at the head of the ship and watch the blue world. With no storms brewing or ships approaching, I stare out into the encompassing horizon looking for the a flash of orange or flare that might come from some other stranded mariners, but I end up having only the dizzy tracks of sweeping shearwaters to keep me company. The sun lightens the dark blue slowly into shades of yellow, warming up the sky for the emergence and rapid ascent of the glorious sun, burning furiously behind the ship.

As the 0700 hour approaches, a member of another watch seamlessly takes post as lookout, and I am free to stare over the side at the deep, yet strangely luminescent blue water, so beautiful a shade, with glowing yellow skipping across the pattern of flowing water. The boat parts the waves, whitecaps dissipate with a hiss reminiscent of soda settling, mats of bubbles float away as the ship sails steadily towards our mystical destination. For now, it will be only this infinitesimal, hospitable pocket of intelligence and will, floating across this lonely, majestic plane, unnoticed. 

- Christina

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s261  sailing • (5) Comments


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 Bonnie Quinn on July 09, 2015

Your beautiful picture and eloquent words have brought this amazing experience to life!

To All,
Look out for each other, work diligently to discover answers, and savor every minute of your journey.

I look forward to the next exciting post.

#2. Posted by Bil Ziemendorf on July 10, 2015

What an adventure and journey you are all on!  I’m enjoying the posts and am anxious to learn more about your trip as it unfolds. I hope it is everything you each dream it will be.  Happy trails (Or seas in this case) and be well,

#3. Posted by John Young on July 14, 2015

I truly enjoyed reading your entry. You are extremely talented with words. Some day I expect your adventures will become best seller books that we can all read and imagine ourselves sailing right along your side. Keep writing, keep pushing, live life to its fullest!!!

#4. Posted by Emily White on July 27, 2015

Hi Christina!

Thanks for sharing your experience. I look forward to hearing more when you return.

Fair Winds and Following Seas!

#5. Posted by David Syler on August 01, 2015

Beautifully written, as always.



Add a comment:

Notify me of follow-­up comments?

I would like SEA to keep me informed about news and opportunities.