SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
March 24, 2017
Cold Fronts and Home Fronts
Moored at Stock Island Marina, Key West Florida
East winds 25 knots, seas calm inside the marina
I am very proud of my shipmates.
Yesterday, we wrapped up our student “Final Mission” in which the students of C-271 took complete ownership of vessel operations in order to meet a divers set of scientific, cultural, and nautical goals. At 1430 yesterday, we heard the final mission report from each watch’s delegate, and I speak for all of the faculty when I say we found that the students did a terrific job operating the vessel and articulating their achievements. Not only did they meet their objectives, but they worked together across all watches to complete the mission as one team. It was great.
After our mission report, we sailed slowly towards Key West. However, a strong cold front quickly made its presence known in the area with winds, threatening clouds, and distant lightning. As the winds gusted to 40 and then to 50 knots, our students and professional staff jumped into action. From the helm, I asked each watch to take care of something – from furling the jib, to striking the mainsail, to rigging the safety lines. Everyone knew what to do…it was a great demonstration of what we have all learned over the past 6 weeks sailing. The trust, confidence, and leadership I saw during the squall really made me happy to have such smart and capable shipmates. We joked afterwards that it was a “pop-final” exam for nautical science. Everyone aced it.
Today we tied to the dock in Key West, Florida. Despite strong winds, the watches got the ship to the exact point I asked them to, at the exact time I wanted to be there. From there, we motor-sailed and then motored through the treacherous reef-strewn waters into the marina at Stock Island, in Key West. Along the way, students and staff had a few last moments to savor the ocean air and unbroken horizon of the Florida Straits. All too soon, we had our lines over and the voyage was at an end.
Tonight, students will finish packing, cleaning, and saying goodbye to each other. We’ll have a celebration for all that our crew has accomplished during our voyage through the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, and during our port visits in Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas. I’m sure there will be some hugs and tears.
Tomorrow C-271 ends and students begin the voyage back to the home front and will start to process what all of this means. Although sad, there is something to be learned from a community of strangers that gets together, works hard towards a common purpose, and then disbands with each individual becoming a better person for the experience. Bravo Zulu (good job!) to my shipmates from C-271 and fair winds as you take the next step in the voyage of life.