SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
March 24, 2016
Alongside in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
Just a few short hours ago, we arrived with all hands on deck into Boca Chica, 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 in St. Croix, USVI, with the island’s remnants of Danish cultural markers, and continued on to the Greater Antilles in a circuit that included ports with clear vestiges of the Spanish Colonial era juxtaposed to those of a former British sugar island.
During our port stops, students took their project inquiries to a wide range of sites from large commercial ports to small fishing communities and from formidable fortresses perched on promontories to a small community built by those who escaped slavery. 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 and marine environments.
For instance, our visit to Santiago de Cuba revealed a city purposely crafting its infrastructure to draw in large numbers of visitors anticipated as the barriers between the United States and Cuba start to come down. In contrast, our visit to Samaná in the Dominican Republic allowed students to develop a more nuanced understanding of the tourism geared toward a smaller population of tourists, many of them from Europe, eager to experience the wonders of the terrestrial and marine environments.
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 enthusiastic class representatives, 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!