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Ocean Classroom: Voyaging the Open Waters

Ocean Classroom

Proctor’s Ocean Classroom students are nearing the completion of their voyage from Bermuda to Newport, Rhode Island. The past two weeks at sea since leaving Lunenberg, Nova Scotia have proven harrowing as they navigated high seas, arrived in Bermuda for 24 hours before casting lines and getting back on the water in order to beat another potential hurricane. 

Following their docking in Newport on November 2, the group will transition back to SEA’s campus in Woods Hole, Massachusetts where they will complete their term long research projects in anticipation of their culminating symposium on Proctor’s campus on November 9 from 6:00-7:30 PM. We hope to see you there, and in the meantime, enjoy these recent Ship’s Log entries from students aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer! 

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom 2023

Friday, 20th October, 2023 | Secret Secchi Dish Mission

Noon Position: 36 deg 26.1' N x 063 deg 48.7' W
Ship Heading (degrees): 195
Ship Speed (knots): 5.3 knots
Log (nm): 1175 steering 195
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan (from 1300 Watch Change):  Light and variable winds build to BF 4 and 5 from the south later in the day. Description of location:  Gulf Stream crossing into the Sargasso Sea

Today started off like any regular day, getting woken up and coming onto deck very tired and looking out at the horizon and seeing pretty calm seas. Unlike last night, we were out of the Gulf Stream now and into calmer water. Except I didn't see much of a horizon because I was on dawn watch and it was 1:00 AM in the morning. I was in lab with Paige, Riley, and Alli and we were chilling, it had been a pretty calm watch since there were no deployments because of rough weather. After our watch ended and we mustered we all went straight to bed. I only got 2 hours of sleep though and then woke up at 9 and for some odd reason and couldn't fall back asleep. So I took a shower and went up on deck and before I talked to some people on C watch I noticed the sea color, it looked oddly purple for some reason.

Then up until class at 14:30 everything went on as a normal day. The beginning of class was normal with reports on Navigation, Weather, and Science. But then for the main activity we were told that we were doing a special secchi disk bet but there were multiple colors on. So as watch we guessed which colors would disappear and which would stay the longest. But there was a surprise, instead of a secchi disk it was two containers, one of M&M's and the other one with Skittles. At first we did actually throw M&M's in the water and kept track of how long we saw them but after that we all just ate them and had a good time. Then after that it started raining for a little bit and we went to the main salon and there it was, fudge popsicles and jolly rancher Popsicle.

Now at this moment I don't know if I could've been happier. So most people grabbed fudge popsicles and some grabbed Jolly Rancher popsicles and it was really good. Then since it was raining A-Watch was on deck and the rest of us were either sleeping or playing cards. Then it was just a normal day until about 17:30 or 4:30 PM. At which some of use went on deck
because it was too hot below deck, and the first sight we see is massive waves crashing over the side of the ship and onto the deck. So what do you do at that moment you might ask, well some of us stayed down below and slept but most of us got our harness and went to the bow, and within minutes all of us were soaked.

Most of us sat at the bow singing songs and chanting to What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor. The swells were so big that it would hit the side of the ship and drench us all in salt water. Some people were smart and got there foulies on, Jackson even got his swim shorts on, but I
just sat there in all cotton having the time of my life with everyone else. We sat out there for about 50 minutes and then went to dinner and dried off, then throughout the night the waves just got bigger and bigger. But most of us had fallen asleep, I wanted to but I was on watch for six hours again off of two hours of sleep, not a smart decision on my part but I had fun so I was fine with it.

Liam M ‘25 

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom 2023

October 20 | Dawn Watch 

When I was woken up by Sophie for dawn watch my first thought was, already? Having just fallen asleep after a lot of rolling around my bunk it was already time for Bravo Watch to take over the deck. Once Johnny had the con I was sent to helm. The waves were pounding against the bow of the boat and salt spraying back onto the lookout and I. Steering in the huge waves was difficult but eventually I got the hang of it. A boat check and learning how to use the GPS to track other boats was next. The trick to a good dawn watch is to just keep on doing things. Onto the third hour and I was assigned to forward lookout, singing to keep myself awake and alert. Liam paid a special visit from lab and we discussed our Pizza Chef orders. Every Dawn watch at about 0400 a watch comes together on the quarter deck for tea time. Today's tea time was special though. Since there was lightning nearby all of the students were sent to the lab. Waiting out the storm over M&Ms and chai we talked about our upcoming arrival to Bermuda and the first things we want to do when we arrive. Many answers included just being on solid land. 

Wakeups, a few dishes, stealing the leftover apples and peanut butter from breakfast and one last boat check ended my dawn watch. Immediately I flung myself into my bed and went back to sleep after a long and salty six hours. Whenever I am on dawn watch I use the time to reflect on the trip so far. I think about the new friendships I've made and the old ones I've strengthened. I think about my family and how I can't wait to see them when I return back to land. I have come up with many ways to keep my mind awake during the hours of darkness. Although dawn watch is not my favorite watch time to be on I try to make the best of it as much as I can.

Tess ‘25 

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom 2023

Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | Bermuda Arrival 

Log: 1540 nm
Weather: Spotty squalls, strong wind, warm water and ice cream.
Description of location: St. George's Bay, Bermuda

After a challenging week of sailing through intense weather, it was so exciting when we heard Whistler say "Land Ho" while standing at forward lookout. As soon as the faint outline of Bermuda came into view, we mustered at the bow in awe. The dark blue, choppy water all of a sudden turned a gorgeous turquoise color, seeming clear. After tidying up the boat and
furling the sails, the Bermuda pilot boat began to lead us through the channel towards the dock. Motoring into the Bermuda port was unlike anything I have experienced and it was extremely different than Lunenburg. Luscious greenery and uniquely colored homes lined the shore of the narrow channel. It felt surreal.

As our dock arrival neared, it became hectic as we finished setting up fenders and dock lines. As I was trying my best to hang on ever so tightly to a fender over the science deck, I realized that in a matter of minutes I would get to give Elsa the biggest hug. Oh how we have missed her
so much! A hectic hour later, Elsa and Brooks were allowed aboard the Corwith Cramer! We had so much fun sharing stories about all of our unique journeys.

The Bermuda Customs Office was so efficient! In what felt like a matter of minutes, we were cleared to get off the ship! After these very rocky days aboard, it felt pretty good to step on solid ground. We spent an amazing rest of our day exploring the gorgeous town of St. Georges. Our first stop was ice cream (which wasn't much of a surprise considering the insane amount of ice cream we all indulged in while in Lunenburg) and then we were off to Tobacco Bay to swim! It was a gorgeous snorkeling and swimming cove which had unique rock and sand formations lining the division from where the water rolled in from the Atlantic.

After exploring different coves and taking in the view from Tobacco Bay, it was time for a dinner and oh how our group LOVES to eat! All 22 of us were able to be seated at the same restaurant on an outdoor patio overlooking the water. We ended our amazing day in Bermuda with full bellies and lots of laughter. Even though it's bittersweet to only get to experience all that St. Georges has to offer in just one afternoon, we made the most of it and created more memories that will last a lifetime. I am excited to see what the last leg of our trip brings as we head to Newport tomorrow. I am sure that by tomorrow we will already have started to discuss what ice cream flavor we want to get in Newport. Oh, except for Noah. He is very loyal to Vanilla every time!

Emma H ‘25 

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom 2023

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 | Underway Again

Noon Position: Lat: 32°10.7’N and Long: 064°52.1’W
Ship Heading: 225°
Ship Speed: 6.5 k
Log: 1570 nm
Weather: Today is sunny with a chance of some showers. We have a steady force 7 at our backs, and it is looking like a beautiful day to go sailing. Sail plan for afternoon watch is to stay clear of Challenger and Plantagenet Banks by sailing south. Then once we are clear of the banks at the South West corner of Bermuda we will begin to sail west to stay clear of Tammy.

Wow. Bermuda is a beautiful place. The water is so clear and the town and its architecture is so cool. But because of Hurricane Tammy and the weather window that has opened up, we have gotten underway again and are quickly running away from the storm. But to everyone’s delight, Elsa is back with us on the boat after not being able to join us since the beginning of the trip. B watch got up at 6:00 for a 6:20 breakfast to get us underway at 7:30. It was sad to leave Bermuda knowing we had had such a short time on shore and force 7 winds and big waves waiting for use outside of the protection of Bermuda harbor. But everyone understands we need to get going and are ready for the final leg of our voyage. As we made our way out of the harbor, we quickly began to feel the big waves and fast winds against the boat. Water was beginning to slash up onto the deck and we all knew what we had ahead. And of course, right as we are getting out of the harbor, the Proctor and SEA flags got stuck and Jeremy had to climb aloft to help free them. We begin sailing with the Main Staysl and the Fore Staysl up. We start making about 6.5 knots with just those sails which is crazy, and travel West around Bermuda. While we are making ground, I decide to go up on deck and read the Lord of the Rings. (Now father, if you do not know who is writing this yet you should now, but that is if Ma has not already scrolled to the bottom of the page to see if I am finally writing a blog.) The Morning watch was very chill and eventually lunch came around and it was LEFTOVERS. Solid lunch by Rachel and Seb. B watch then handed over the deck to C watch at 1300 till 1900. I then played Noah Young in a vicious game of spit which went on for about 45 minutes. The game went back and forth the whole time and Noah ended up coming out victorious. That took us all the way to class where Jeff talked to use about corals the geological history of Bermuda. And Captain gave us further information on what our JWO (Junior Watch Officer) watches will entail. After class, book club groups met and people took some naps. Because I have nigh watch, I am writing this blog in parts. So I have stated it at 17:00 and will pick up later during my watch.

I have finally found myself a window of time. To pick up where I left off, dinner was really good, it was rice bowls with meat and a very good sauce. My watch then took over and now I am on lab with Emma and Nick but since a storm hit and the waves have picked up we are not able to do anything, so we have been helping out on deck. I was actually just at the helm for about an hour and a half and Emma was at look out right next to me. It was fun, but in these conditions when the boat is getting thrown, it can be really difficult to keep it on course. And while I was at helm we saw a Moon bow. It’s like a white rainbow at night. Now those on deck have taken over and Emma and I have a break before we have to do a surface station at 2300. Overall watch has been good so far with some rain and the boat heeling over a lot.

Watch last night ended well. The Last two hours were very funny because I think everyone was starting to get a little delirious. After a good six hours of watch, B watch came to relieve us at 1:00. We had a short watch meeting and the next thing I knew I was passed out in my bed. After another great day.

This trip so far has truly been the experience of a lifetime. I am loving every moment from getting thrown across the boat because it is heeled over so far, to us walking around Lunenburg. The professional crew on this trip are all amazing and there is no other group of kids I would rather be experiencing this with. I have learned so much about myself and who I want to be and I am so excited to keep learning new things. These kinds of trips do not come around very often for many kids and we are such a fortunate group of people that this experience can be a reality in our lives.  But sadly this trip is coming to a close soon. I am going to miss the Corwith Cramer and everyone on it. But I will always remember this experience forever.

And to Mom, Dad, Annie, and most of all Maddy, I love and miss you all so much and can’t wait to see you. And, of course, let’s go Yankees.

Ian R ‘25 

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom 2023

Thursday, October, 26, 2023 | Another Beautiful Day in Heavy Weather 

Partially cloudy, Force 6-7 wind, Sailing under the staysails and the main on a starboard tack
Sargasso Sea

It's hard to encapsulate a day on the Cramer because everyone's day is always so different, but I will describe how my day went today and hope that will give you a good idea of what it was like living onboard for a day. My wakeup was at 06:00 for my 06:20 breakfast and 07:00 watch. I got out of bed and ate some biscuits made by the stews with some peanut butter. I went on deck at 06:50 for watch turnover. We are currently in our Junior Watch Officer phase and I was the first one.

I controlled the rotation on deck to make sure everyone did every role and wasn't in the same place for too long. I also briefed the captain on our plan for the day and learned a lot about how running a watch works. Towards the end of my time on JWO, I called a sailing maneuver called gybing. It was intimidating at first but I got the hang of it quickly and became more confident. Lily was the next JWO after me, so I gave her an update and she took control. She did a very good job running the rotation and also walked us through a gybe. It was cool to be able to learn from not only my officers, but my classmates as well. After watch we ate some delicious rice bowls for lunch. I did some journaling and was able to talk with friends and relax for a few minutes before class. The bell rang for ship's meeting at 14:15 and we were all on deck at 14:30. We did our science, weather, and navigation reports for the day. Because I was on morning watch, I presented the navigation report with Lily.

After reports and announcements, we had some study hall time for class. This was a nice time to be able to catch up on work I was behind on because of our busy schedule. After class, we had a lemon cake for Riley's 18th birthday that we called the "Starboard Tack Cake" because it was slanted in the oven and baked crooked.  It was still delicious though. We all sang happy birthday and celebrated her milestone. Happy Birthday Riley!!! I went on deck for a while to get some fresh air and look at the waves. I was feeling good today but this is definitely the best cure for seasickness. It's truly a bonding experience to sit on the deck boxes with someone and look at the horizon. I took a nap before dinner, a vital part of life on a ship. I woke up for dinner and ate some amazing homemade mac and cheese with peas, such a great way to end the day. I helped clean up and hung out in the main salon until around 19:45. I'm staying up a little too late to be on dawn watch, but it's always so fun to have some laughs in the salon before going to sleep. Well, goodnight, I have dawn watch wakeups at 00:30 so I gotta get to sleep. P.S. Hi Mom, Dad, Callie, and Bob!!! I miss you all so much! See you soon enough. Love you! (Pet the animals for me).

Cade ‘25 

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom 2023

Friday, October, 27 2023 | Stu Stu Day in the Sargasso Sea

Ship Heading: 320°psc
Ship Speed: 6.5kn
Log: 1883nm
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan: Partial cloudy, wind force 5 out of NNE, sailing under all 5 lower sails Description of location: Sargasso Sea

Today was a rather irregular day aboard the Cramer for me because I was Asst. Asst. Steward, or in Cramer words, stu stu! Instead of standing watch today, I was cooking meals with our two stewards, an opportunity each student has once per voyage. I was stood down from my dawn watch (0100-0700), so I had a 0500 wake up to start on breakfast. Sleep in! This morning, I went pretty simple with oatmeal and cereal. Cereal was a hit because we had lucky charms, a rare Cramer delicacy. After breakfast was cleaned up, I read my book club book, Cod, on deck and took a nap. At 1000, I put out my mid-morning snack, plums, out on deck. Every morning around 0900-1100, we usually have our morning science station, which normally includes three deployments: a Secchi disc, a Neuston net tow, and a CTD with niskin bottles, as well as a surface station. After some more free time, Rachel and Sebastian (the stewards) and I started on lunch. For lunch we decided on tofu pad thai which had a delicious peanut sauce. After lunch I started on my afternoon snack, brownies!! We were done just in time for ships meeting/afternoon class. After our usual announcements and reports, we practiced our gybes and sail handling because we have just began our Junior Watch Officer phase of our voyage. During JWO phase, each student has 2 opportunities to take on a leadership role on deck; this includes calling all sail maneuvers and being responsible for everyone’s jobs and rotations. To help us understand the steps of gybing a little better, for class we gybed four times in a row. Each watch performed one gybe and each gybe was called by a student who had previously been a JWO. After class, we wrapped up with some brownies and I started on dinner. I made chicken and rice soup with rosemary focaccia on the side. In between dinner seatings, I went up on deck and enjoyed the sunset with friends. While my watch (C Watch) was preparing to take the deck for evening watch (1900-0100), I was again stood down because it was my steward day.

We have had some pretty consistent wind that had been in our favor since we left Bermuda two days ago, so we have been cruising at a steady rate for the last few days. The sea has also significantly settled, so the ride has been pretty pleasant compared to our leg from Lunenburg to Bermuda. I had a great day full of nice weather, science, sailing, and lots of cooking and I can’t believe the sea component is coming to a close. I hope these wonderful conditions last for the remainder of our voyage and I am excited for what’s left.

Lily ‘25 

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom 2023

Saturday, 28 October, 2023 | Good Morning 

Noon Position: 33°02.47’N  X  071°13.98’W
Ship Heading (degrees): 302°
Ship Speed: 4 knots
Log: 1963 nm
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan (from 1300 Watch Change): Warm weather and sailing until we no longer could and we had to motor. With force 4 winds coming from NEXN Description of location: Middle of the Atlantic

This morning Ian woke me up for breakfast at 6 am telling me that it was hot, that breakfast was in a little less than 20 minutes and that watch was in 50 minutes. I thanked him and then got dressed. After that I got out of my bunk just in time for breakfast. It was breakfast sandwiches, so good, I ate one with plenty of hot sauce and avocado and headed back to my bunk to finish getting ready. After I put on my harness I headed to the quarter deck to muster for turnover. We’re doing JWOs right now or Junior Watch Officer where two students (one for each half of watch) would have the deck and would give commands to the other students; they would mandate rotations and call out sail handling. I didn’t have to worry about it because I had already been JWO twice. On deck the A watch JWO did the turnover where they gave a debrief to the oncoming JWO (Teo) and spun the skirt on to them and gave the hat over. I actually was supposed to be on lab but I switched with Mattie because she hadn’t done morning science station often and then I switched with Noah on dish because he gets really sea sick in the galley. 

After turnover I headed down below to do the breakfast dishes I was in there for about two hours before Teo called me up to do some sail handling because we had to Gybe for science. After that Teo sent Liam to do dish to give me a break and Noah and I worked to the Navigation report for class that afternoon. We drew our track line stating in Woods Hole and ending at our present location. Than we got the log of all of the nautical miles we had traveled in the past 24 hours and the rhumb run, which is the nautical miles from directly where we started to where we were with no turns as the crow flies. Noah and I took a quick break for morning snack (grapefruit) and to check in on science (I didn’t win the secchi disc bet). Than Obie (our watch officer) gave us some reading to do so I read about how to steer with no compasses and only by the wind and swells and gave Noah the highlights to write on the whiteboard. After that I was put on helm for an hour before I went back to dish to start on the lunch dishes from the first seating. I had almost finished the dishes before I had to go back on deck for turnover. Paige was now JWO so she gave the debrief to C watch and they did the turnover spin. After that all of B watch met on the high side for a quick recap of watch and then we all went below deck for lunch. And that’s what a morning watch looks like for me.

Riley ‘25  

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom 2023

Check out more photos from Ocean Classroom 2023! 

  • Ocean Classroom
  • Off-Campus Program