SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
Alongside in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Just a few short hours ago, we arrived with all hands on deck into Las Palmas, and with the securing of the Corwith Cramer’s dock lines to the pier we mark the end of our six-week journey that began on mainland Spain and continued on to two additional Spanish ports, a Portuguese sugar island, and finally back into Spanish territory again in the Canary Islands.
During our port stops, students took their project inquiries to a wide range of sites from large commercial ports to small fishing piers and from an old monastery tucked into a hillside to the Roman ruins near the Strait of Gibraltar. One program theme that spanned most of the academic work and was readily apparent at all of our stops was the role and impact of modern tourism on maritime communities. Research ashore was confirmed, for instance, by our visit to Barcelona where it was clear that the city had a purposely-crafted infrastructure, spurred on by the 1992 Olympic Games, that was designed to draw in large numbers of visitors from all over the world. In contrast, our visit to Cadiz allowed students to develop a more nuanced understanding of the tourism there that drew in a more local population of Spanish vacationers.
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 sail training and research 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 sharp, 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.
Tomorrow will be filled with farewells, hopefully mixed in with a repeated, “See you soon!” Armed with an enthusiastic class representative, I know students will keep in touch with each other and hopefully find the time to visit the ship and the campus in Woods Hole in the near or distant future. I am looking forward to hearing all about the next adventures in their lives.
It has been a pleasure and an honor to be their shipmate for six weeks. Fair winds!