SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
March 24, 2015
Sailing toward a Journey’s End
15°33.5’N x 30.0°.0’W
Description of location
40nm from Dominica
Ship Heading (degrees)
Ship Speed (knots)
Taffrail Log (nm)
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Wind coming from the E force 5, Seas height of 4 feet coming from ESE, 28.8°C
Marine Mammals Observed last 24hrs
12 flying fish
Sargassum Observed last 24hrs
several hundred feet long Sargassum windrows
We all knew that this trip would sail by soon before we were ready for it to. But now, with only days left, I find myself filled with an overarching sense of bewilderment that my study abroad experience I have been looking forward to since high school really, is coming to an end. Though I know that my shipmates and I are only embarking on our own lifelong adventures, I can’t help but feel melancholy knowing that this special dynamic created by each vital individual will never exist again, come March 30th. As our futures will undoubtedly lead us each in meandering paths around the world, the fact of the matter is that the entirety of C-257 will most probably never be gathered all together in this capacity again. But there certainly is a bittersweet beauty in the realization that our experience cannot last forever. And it speaks to an even broader lesson we have learned during our time together; to truly and unabashedly live in the moment.
Looking back on the past 11 weeks, I realize this is the culmination of a beautiful journey, and one that is important especially for young women. As we learned while still in Woods Hole, during the height of racism and discrimination in America, the ocean, and therefore life at sea, was colorblind. When the captain yelled for all hands, it didn’t matter if those hands were white or black, all that mattered was the strength of the sinewy arms attached to those hands, hauling lines with all their might. Similarly, I learned hours into our voyage, the ocean (despite old fisherman folklore) does not regard gender. Here, each individual is expected to fully carry out any task at hand. No job is reserved for a specific gender, we are all expected, and we each expect from ourselves, to carry out all orders to full capacity. During a conversation with Sarah, one of the deckhands, I realized why this trip has become such a vital experience in my life. This program allows each individual to realize his or her own full potential.
Specifically, it allows young women to deconstruct themselves and therefore uncover their unadulterated person, free from the constraint and cushion of societal expectations. And with this genuine understanding of who they are and who they can be comes the most important lesson of all, the ability to truly love oneself.
I have never encountered an equalizer as potent as The Cramer. She demands from each of us constant vigilance and responsibility for all those around you. On board, us women will smell as bad as the next person. We will haul lines with as much ferocity as the next person. We will scrub the deck on our hands and knees just like the next person. We are not given special treatment to get out of even the dirtiest or most rigorous of tasks. I’m not going to lie, catering to this expectation was an adjustment. But in throwing myself into this challenge head on, I have become the happiest, healthiest version of myself I have ever been. I have come face to face with my shortcomings, but instead of getting frustrated with myself as I previously would have, I have now learned to forgive myself. I now know how much I can achieve and how much of myself I can give, and if I am not happy with what that currently is I have learned to be patient and confident in myself. I now know that by putting in the necessary effort, I can reach whatever goal I set for myself.
During our last day in Grenada before we set sail for Puerto Rico, we devoted ourselves to fixing up The Cramer before our final leg. That day, it just so happened that the boys were sewing sails and the girls were climbing the rigging to do work aloft. I found myself shimming up the bobstay, carefully coating it in a protective layer of tar. Before this trip, the chances of catching me carrying out a task such as this was close to negligible. For one thing, I wouldn’t have had the body strength to balance myself on a line like that and pull myself up without foothold or handhold. There was also no way you could have convinced me to dangle freely. Nonetheless, when I finally clambered back into the boat, covered in a layer of black tar, I was nothing short of satisfied. The last couple months have been a whirlwind of adventure and growth. I have been lucky enough to make lifelong friendships with people who continue to inspire me every day. I have learned invaluable lessons through working with our sassy and heartfelt crew . I have so much to be thankful for, from my incredible professors who were instrumental in shaping this experience, to The Cramer herself who has been home to us the past six weeks. This formative journey has uncovered a more wholesome, freewheeling person, and one I hope to retain upon my return to the states. So as we prepare to say our farewells and move onto the next exciting adventure in our lives, I know this is nowhere near the end, this is merely the beginning.
Post Script from a deckhand: Hi Mom & have a Happy Birthday Dad! Can’t wait to see you guys soon, back home in a cool Minnesota. Give the poodle a pat for me. Love from your son, Matthew/Matt/Harry Harrison.