|From Ocean Navigator #127 |
The schooner Westward served the Sea Education Association for more than 30 years, logging some 500,000 miles. The outdated sailing-school vessel is currently for sale.
“Westward was a beautiful ship; she was home to so many SEA students and embodied the spirit of this organization,” said Stephanie Jones, alumni and parent relations coordinator. “Every time you go onboard, you get the same feeling. People often referred to the ship as €˜Mother Westward.’ The ship had that sort of effect on people.”
Westward also served Ocean Navigator as a floating classroom in the days before construction of the schooner Ocean Star, which was modeled after Westward in many ways.
Despite being built in Germany, Westward is U.S.-flagged. The organization was able to establish an exemption from the Jones Act – which prohibits foreign vessels from carrying the U.S. flag – by working with the Coast Guard to establish a new designation, that of the Sailing School Vessel (SSV), a designation that other non-profit organizations have since employed.
The SEA added a new ship to the fleet in 2002, launching the 135-foot steel brigantine Robert C. Seamans in Tacoma, Wash. (The SEA built Corwith Cramer, also a 135-foot brigantine, in Spain in 1987.) Robert C. Seamans replaced the aging Westward and has been lauded by SEA science staff members and deck crew as being a state-of-the-art strong ship that will lead the organization into the future. The vessel cost some $7 million to construct and features a full science lab, several generators, a watermaker for unlimited showers, a dedicated “coffee station,” and a full-electronics nav station that is integrated with the research lab. But Westward, with its limited water tanks, pipe berths, and small lab with dated equipment, will be remembered as the more sensual vessel, according to Jones. “I can think of no other way to describe the feeling so many people have about this ship, which over the years sheltered people for weeks on end, out of sight of land, safe from storms, than to say that she was home.”