SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
March 20, 2019
Academic Wrap-Up Poster Session
Southeast of Key West, FL, 24° 24’ N x 81° 49’ W, At anchor
Winds NNW, Force 4
As I write this, the students of C-284 are breaking down the posters they created to reflect on-site observations they made and the conversations they had with people regarding their individual projects in our five port stops. The “ground truthing” of the research they did ashore, while not necessarily contradicting what they learned from published sources available to them in Woods Hole, has certainly given each of them more to think about in terms of issues ranging from cultural preservation and marine resource management to diversification of island economies and human impacts on the marine environment.
The posters reflected the proactive work of the students, always ready with questions and open to challenges to their working hypotheses. For instance, while Samaná offered many examples of conservation efforts, it also gave students a chance to see a more nuanced tourism geared toward a smaller population of vacationers eager to experience the wonders of the marine environment—humpback whales in the mating season. So, whether it was talking to people about their spiritual practices or how to maintain a balance between conservation and tourism dollars, students learned more about the islands on our cruise track from those that live there.
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 crewmembers of this sailing school 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 square, 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.
So, as the academic work comes to a close for C-284, it is worth pausing and acknowledging all that the crew of the Corwith Cramer has accomplished together. It has been my great pleasure and an honor to be allowed to accompany this group on their voyage through the Caribbean.
Craig Marin, Maritime Studies