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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

October 27, 2019

Youth and the Sea

Colin Graham, 2nd Mate, Bosun


Above: Learning how to shoot noon sights; Below: Hands to Brace Sharp!!; Our dynamic learning laboratory.

Ship's Log

Present Location
28degrees 20.7’ N x 057 degrees 09.4’ W

Ship’s Heading, Speed and Sail plan
174 degrees-T, 2.3kts, Mainstays’l, Forestays’ls

Wind light NWxW, mostly clear skies, calm sea state

Souls on board

Day 17: this is one of my favorite points during the trip. Behind us are the days in the beginning of the voyage where the students, wide-eyed and perhaps a bit overwhelmed by their immersion in a new and totally alien environment, careen from helm to lookout to lab as they try to learn the language of the ship, how to steer a course and plot a position, and how to count copepods through a microscope while timing the roll of the ship. Ahead of us are the bittersweet days, where the professional crew will have to bid fair winds to a group of people who started off as students, but finished the voyage as full-fledged shipmates, each fully able in their own rights to "hand, reef, and steer" while also engaging in serious scientific study. Now, as we begin to warm to the new challenges of the Shadow Phase of watch-standing, something truly special has started to happen: a transformation of sorts has begun, and for me, as part of the team who has been working to affect this metamorphosis, watching it begin to take hold is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. The students are becoming sailors.

They can parse the peculiarities of sailor speak, with commands like "Fish your falls!" and "Hands to braces" becoming as familiar as using #hashtags. They can maintain a course in a following sea, and don't need to be reminded to sing out if they find themselves 10 degrees off. They can go into the charthouse, spool up the RADAR and in a few moments tell true wind from apparent, the direction of the long period ocean swell, and dead reckon our position in the middle of the ocean. But more than the sum of their new skills is that they can do all of these things with a confidence that wasn't there previously. They have entered this strange world of ours, and have embraced it, owned it, and are beginning to master it. Seeing students who may have been quiet or shy in the beginning of the voyage, organize a schedule for rotations between helm, lookout, and navigation, without having even been asked to do so, reveals not only personal growth, but an underlying inner strength that they might not have even known they had, which has been brought out by their rising to the occasion and challenge of being on a ship at sea.

On the final page of Youth, a Narrative by Joseph Conrad, he himself a veteran of sea going sailing ships, the narrator recounting his life aboard seagoing ships says: "“Ah! The good old time—the good old time. Youth and the sea...The good, strong sea... that could whisper to you and roar at you and knock your breath out of you.... tell me, wasn’t that the best time, that time when we were young at sea; young and had nothing, on the sea that gives nothing, except hard knocks - and sometimes a chance to feel your strength?”

Parents, if you are reading this, and I feel confident you are, it is my hope, that the person who comes home from St. Croix at the end of November will not be quite the same person you said goodbye to in Woods Hole. They will be tougher, more self-aware, and more confident versions of the ones you last saw in October. This ship and the sea are fantastic teachers.

- Colin Graham, 2nd Mate, Bosun

A big thanks to everyone who supported me in my pursuit of building a career at sea, doing what I love.

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Atlantic Odyssey, • Topics: c288  gap year learn to sail  life at sea • (2) Comments
Previous entry: Phase Change!    Next entry: Banana Bread and Knots


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 Walter on October 28, 2019

I’ve really enjoyed all the C-288 posts, but this is a real stand-out - and a Conrad quote no less - well done! We are so grateful that Nick is able to share in this wonderful experience with you all. Thanks, and happy trails, er, sails!

#2. Posted by Savine on October 29, 2019

Thank you, Colin, for this wonderful report. It opens up portholes for a brief look at what this adventure is made of and how the souls on board are faring.—Loving hug to Charlotte and kudos to the team.



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