Course code:



I - Introductory

Class size limit:


Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Upon occasion

For much of the past 5000 years the sea has played a major role in a broad variety of human cultures, histories, arts, and economies. Sea-faring peoples have developed a rich lore and technology that allows them to both survive and even thrive in an often hostile element. This course will mix practical, hands-on learning of aspects of seamanship with a survey of fiction and non-fiction that address maritime themes. During the early part of the term we will concentrate on aspects of small-boat handling, using the College’s inflatables, rowing boats, and the larger research vessels, Osprey and Laughing Gull. Students will learn how to launch and land small-craft from docks and beaches, basic rowing skills and use of an outboard motor. They will learn essential knots useful aboard ship and on the dock, how to lay out a course using a chart and compass, use of GPS and depth sounders, basic Rules of the Road, and elements of celestial navigation. During some lab periods we will go on short voyages in the general area of Frenchman Bay. As the term proceeds and weather worsens, we will turn to an increasingly greater literary component, reading accounts of famous voyages and local fishermen, discoveries, battles, legends and poetry. Possible texts include, but are not limited to: Working the Sea by Wendell Seavey, Master and Commander by Patrick O’ Brian, Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi, The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, In the Heart of The Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, Longitude by Dava Sobel, Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker, Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl, We Didn’t Mean to Go To Sea by Arthur Ransome as well as excerpts from The Greenlanders’ Saga, Moby Dick, The Old Man and the Sea, The Voyage of the Beagle, and Two Years Before the Mast. Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation, a number of short “quizzes” – which will include practical elements - and a term paper focusing on one aspect of working the sea.


Permission of Instructor.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.