SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
March 16, 2019
Row Your Own Boat: Important Life Lessons from Dad
20° 32.6’ N x 083° 36.5’ W
Ship’s heading & speed
305° T at 5.4 kn motor sailing under the stays’ls and storm tris’l.
Wind NExE at force 3, sea ESE with 2-3 foot swell. Cloudy with rain in the area and an exciting waterspout sighting during morning watch.
Happy Birthday! Another year older, but never seeming to slow down. Did you ever think you would be here? A white-bearded grandpa riding centuries and biking the Tetons? I have no idea what the future holds for me as I look out from the deck of the Corwith Cramer, but I think I just might have inherited your sense of adventure. The other day, a quote was posted in the main salon that made me think of you:
“One ship sails East, And another West, By the self-same winds that blow, Tis the set of the sails And not the gales, That tells the way we go. Like the winds of the sea Are the waves of time, As we journey along through life, Tis the set of the soul, That determines the goal, And not the calm or the strife.” ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox
It struck me because it’s not the first time I’ve thought of my life as a boat. Many years ago (or so it seems) I moved to New York City at the height of the recession to pursue a very different career. During one tearful call home, I worried to you that you weren’t proud of me in this endeavor. After months of struggling to establish myself in a difficult environment, I was desperate for someone to validate me. Your response surprised me: why did I need you to be proud of me for this? Of course you were proud, it wouldn’t matter what I was pursuing, or what I achieved, so how could I use your feelings as validation for my choices in life? You said I would have to row my own boat. And since that day, I have.
Except that a few years ago, I exchanged my oars for sails, but I knew that would be okay too, because it’s my boat. I think maybe you were the only one who didn’t see my running away to sea as some wild and crazy lark. Almost like I’m the kid you raised who listed ten potential future careers in their singular beauty pageant foray, huh? Changing careers was a challenging choice, but it was the right one for me, and only I knew that. I have you to thank for reminding me that I’m in charge of my own life. I set the sails. I choose the course. And if I need to, I change the course. Our weather forecasts always come with the phrase “Only you know the conditions at your location.” As our students near the end of our voyage (and many of them the end of their undergrad studies), I hope I can pass on to them a sense of their ability to captain their futures. As a group they are vocal, curious, and compassionate, with strong ideals, and a keen eye for the needs of our changing society. These are the kind of people we need at the helm.
It can be daunting to find yourself steering into a night of stars and waves, learning when to make the call to take in sail ahead of the looming squalls, or trying to rally your team through exhaustion or sea sickness when you may even be battling the same, but how else can you experience the sight of the milky way galaxy so clearly? Bioluminescent dolphins escorting you onward? The elusive green flash? The friendships that grow from hauling, sweating, scrubbing, and puzzling over star fixes together? I don’t know, but I’m sure it will be my next career.
PS The students are all celebrating your birthday by wearing green
- Ava Stasiw, AB deckhand