It’s 2026 (8:26pm) and I’ve just returned from taking a stroll through the good ship. Since you couldn’t be here to stroll with me, I’ll give you a snapshot of an evening on the Cramer:
In the red-lit glow of the charthouse, Shel is desperately trying to finish writing the night orders, so that those who will stand an anchor watch tonight can find out when and she can, finally, go to bed. The charthouse, however, is the main route to deck, so she laughingly complains as she’s thwarted by a continuous stream of questions, idle chit-chat, and enthusiastic announcements from passing crew. The final straw is a parade of crew lugging hard cased instruments, a guitar, a fiddle, a ukulele, up the ladder, looking like they’re ready to hit the road.
Below in the Galley Kate and Yifeng are knocking out the last of the dinner dishes, luxuriating in a rare loosening of the rules prohibiting listening to “canned” music as they work. Out in the main saloon Jess is preparing to help Gwynne make sense of her latest reef data and play a round of cribbage with Josh, simultaneously. In their cabin Anne and Aida are crouching over a dismantled watch, attempting repairs while pondering what to craft for their recently assigned secret santa gift recipients. And in the aft cabin the lights are already dimmed; after a long day of running a ship and a semester long academic program, Rebecca and Heather need all the sleep they can get.
On deck the moon is nearly full and crew are taking full advantage of the extra light. Beans lounges (appropriately) on a bean bag chair on the quarterdeck, laughing uproariously as Evan cracks a joke. Nate perches on a starboard deckbox, chatting quietly with Alex and Mac. On the port side an impromptu dance club is in full swing, Victoria is teaching Caroline and Anna some Salsa moves, while Peter and Tanya attempt their own creative take on the waltz, all through intermittent cackles of laughter from Elle and Kaleena.
From here in the library, where I’m typing, I can still hear the pounding of feet on the deck above and bouts of laughter echoing down the companionway.
It’s evenings like these that remind me of why I do this work. Through the challenges of the last few years I’ve grappled often with the doubt that teaching young people to sail old tall ships and to love marine science, is enough. In a world that feels like it’s falling apart, shouldn’t I be doing more? Maybe the answer is yes, or maybe it’s that “should” is a dubious word, I don’t know. What I do know is that two weeks ago this crew came together as a disparate mix of strangers, coworkers, and classmates, and tonight I watched the ship and the sea work their magic. I watched this group becoming a crew, a community. No one human being can sail a ship by themselves, and no group of humans can sail a ship together and not be made constantly aware of that fact, constantly aware of our interdependency.
That’s it, that’s the magic. I think the world desperately needs that kind of magic, so I’ll keep sailing.
[Gaia Wilson, Mate in Training, B Watch]