About Us

The sum of the parts makes the semester experience

For over 40 years, we’ve consistently delivered outstanding educational experiences for young adults.

By combining hands-on education, formal academics with cooperative living and adventure travel throughout the world, we have successfully ignited the inherent leadership skills within thousands of students.

This is what we do, yet what really sets us apart is how we do it and the results that we achieve. To understand who we are and what drives us, you need to dig a little deeper into the sum of our parts.

Program Design, Values & Learning Outcomes

The Sea|mester experience is designed to provide engaging learning experiences that involve the whole person and have real outcomes in ways that are impossible to replicate in a traditional classroom or everyday living environment. Our program creates endless teachable moments, ones that can happen at any hour of the day or night. This is what makes the experience so profound, resulting in the tangible development of academic, vocational, and life skills in addition to knowledge and certifications that will last a lifetime.

For a more complete list of skills, certifications, competencies & values, click on the button below

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SM Not Distressed
Whale breaching from deck of Seamester vessel

Teachable moments

What is a teachable moment? For us, it’s learning the oceanographic processes responsible for the trade winds while sailing 5000 nautical miles using nothing but their energy. It’s coming on deck in the morning to find a small squid that has misjudged its leap out the water, then holding a dissection class to discover the pen and ink inside. It’s being hit in the face with a flying fish on bow watch, then examining its pectoral fins. It’s learning in class about coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and invertebrates, then scuba diving to set quadrats and a transect line to conduct a survey.

Living as part of a close-knit team means that some of the most important lessons are learned beyond the academics; lessons in personal responsibility, teamwork, and hard work that are in every way just as important as what is learned in class. Our instructors and staff are cognizant of that and they are just as passionate about imparting those lessons. They take their responsibilities as role models and mentors as seriously as they take the subjects they teach.

Sea|mester is designed to challenge students to realize that, in many ways, it is the journey that matters most, not the destination.

Sea|mester was born of three men’s passion for the sea and their desire to share that passion with others.

As a young man, Jim Stoll developed a passion for sailing. He turned the usually quiet summer season at his family’s marina into a thriving summer sailing school for teenagers.

In 1970, Jim expanded the concept, taking his school to the water full-time. Jim sailed the Atlantic waters aboard 156′ Te Vega and 175′ Te Quest, enrolling 86 teenagers every year in a high school program of study and travel.

Twelve years later, with children of his own, Jim moved back ashore to develop motivational programs for young adults. In the mid-eighties he once again headed to the water.

In 1995, Jim was joined by Mike Meighan and Travis Yates. As a recent oceanography and marine biology graduate, Mike dreamed of creating a truly interactive educational experience. Using the principles of experiential education, Mike developed Sea|mester in 1998 and acquired the 88-foot school ship, S/Y Ocean Star, in 1999.

With the steady growth of Sea|mester came the need for an additional vessel. Summer 2006 saw the completion of S/Y Argo, Sea|mester’s 112-foot school ship. Since her launch, she has circumnavigated the globe multiple times, offering thousands of Sea|mester students the chance to cross oceans while furthering their educational and personal goals. A major milestone was reached in 2020 when Argo’s sister ship, S/Y Vela was launched from the same shipyard in Thailand.

The Sea|mester mission is to provide life-changing educational adventures at sea through which participants ultimately discover that it is the journey, rather than the destination, that matters most.

Mike Meighan, Founder & Director

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