Sea Education Association Receives 2005 Rod Stephens Award

The Sea Education
Association
of Woods Hole, Massachusetts was selected
by The Cruising Club of America to receive the coveted Rod
Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship for 2005. The award was
presented at the Club's annual Awards Dinner in New York
on January 17, 2006. Making the presentation of the award
was CCA Commodore Edward S. Rowland of Hamilton, MA.

The
award is made to the Sea Education Association, Captain Steve
Tarrant, and the crew of the Corwith Cramer, a sailing school
ship, which came upon and rescued 51 people in the Caribbean
aboard a dismasted and disabled sailing boat. The 25 foot boat
carrying Haitian refugees toward Jamaica had been at sea for
five days without food and almost without water. The refugees,
which included 35 adults and 16 children as young as babies,
were brought aboard and taken to safety at Port Antonio, Jamaica.

The rescue occurred on March 9, 2005 when the 134' brigantine,
Corwith Cramer, manned by 22 college students and a crew of
eleven, found the distressed boat while in the fifth week of
a six week voyage that began in Key West of February 9, 2005
as part of the sea component of the Association's semester-long
program, SEA Semester. At the time, the students were deploying
oceanographic sampling equipment in clear weather with a moderate
wind blowing.

After making radio calls to the USCG and the Sea Education
Association (SEA) headquarters in Woods Hole, all involved
on the Corwith Cramer worked to understand the situation, evaluate
the condition of the refugees, assess the various risks to
all concerned and to develop a plan that all could support.
Captain Steve Tarrant ordered the Cramer's rescue boat be launched
and sent to the boat with water and a French speaking student,
Anita Kasch, to assess the situation. They determined that
they were Haitian refugees, were out of food and almost out
of water, but had no injuries or sickness aboard. They also
determined that they were fleeing Haiti and were seeking help
since their boat was totally disabled.

The USCG advised that there was no other vessel in the area
capable of making a rescue of the disabled craft. They requested
that the Cramer perform the rescue and offered to be a liaison
with the Jamaican Defense Forces. Various options for the rescue
were discussed along with safety and health issues. In the
end it was decided to bring all of the Haitians aboard, provide
them with easily digestible food and water, install a temporary
deck toilet, and provide them with shelter from the wind and
spray on deck. After the vessel was prepared, the boarding
went smoothly and the following day the refugees were turned
over to Jamaican authorities at Port Antonio.

Of
the rescue, Captain Steve Tarrant said, "The survivors
were extremely grateful and very cooperative during their rescue.
We were lucky to have been in the area and equipped to undertake
this mission."

John K. Bullard, CCA member and President of SEA, said "We
are thankful we could be of help in this situation and for
the efforts of our outstanding captain and crew. We are also
happy that our students had a chance to contribute to a successful
humanitarian mission."

Year Awarded

2005