Issue Contents :: Around Tappan Square:: Page [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 ]

Sailing through Class
by Katie Hubbard '05 and Yvonne Gay Fowler

Life on board the tall ship Corwith Cramer wasn't always smooth sailing. / Courtesy of Lila Carey '04

"The best teachers are those with incredibly rich backgrounds in many different areas," says senior Lila Carey, who views her semester-long journey on the Atlantic Ocean as preparation for a successful career in elementary education.

Carey and two other Oberlin students were among 23 SEA (Sea Education Association) students who worked aboard a tall ship and studied at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institu-tion in Cape Cod. They are among the 150 Oberlin students who enrich their educational experiences each semester by studying abroad, choosing from either a College-sponsored program––Oberlin-in-Italy, Oberlin-in-Europe, Studies in Spain, and Danenberg Oberlin-in-London––or from more than 65 Oberlin-affiliated programs.

During the shore component of the trip, Carey and her classmates shared a house; took classes in oceanography, maritime studies, and nautical science; and analyzed the Cape's beaches and marshes. There, they practiced celestial navigation and data collection techniques for later use aboard the 134-foot-long Corwith Cramer. Carey also designed a research project examining the horizontal distribution and migration of a certain fish in the Sargasso Sea.

"On October 15, we all arrived at the dock in Woods Hole and boarded the ship, not realizing the challenges ahead," Carey wrote in her journal. "We sailed from Woods Hole to east of the Bermuda islands, then south to Tobago, after which we didn't see land for 24 days." Over the ensuing weeks, Carey was responsible not only for carrying out her research, but also for becoming a competent crewmember–a task that proved challenging by 20-foot waves and 50-to-60 mph winds.

"We were all responsible for performing the duties necessary to run and maintain a tall ship and keep her in good running order," says Carey. "By the end of our six weeks at sea we were able to sail without help or instruction from the crew." Students stood watch; navigated; set, struck, and trimmed sail; steered; stood bow watch; and worked in the lab to collect and analyze data.

After three days in port in Tobago, the crew sailed up to Dominica, then around the British and U.S. Virgin Islands to St. Croix, where they made port and ended the trip.

"It felt amazing to realize how much we had accomplished over that short period of time. Although this semester away did not fit in with my major, it was something that has been an interest of mine for years," she says. "I fully intend to have as many adventures as possible before I settle into teaching."

Next Page >>