Managing risk is our biggest responsibility and something we take seriously.
The Sea|mester experience is designed to be adventurous, so to say that there are no risks would be misleading. However, awareness of these inherent risks is the key to managing them. Our goal is to weave risk management throughout every activity, every day and we rely on our students to do the same, taking responsibility not only for their own safety but for the safety of their fellow crew mates.
Program Design & Structure
Our programs are built on the principles of experiential education, with leadership, nautical and ocean sciences at its core. Since the experience is designed to be ‘hands on’, our staff not only place a high emphasis on risk management themselves but rapidly pass these critical elements onto their team.
Throughout the voyage, students develop risk management skill and knowledge through a number of different methods. This learning is reinforced through practical application, as students demonstrate safe practices during everyday activities. Through repetition, simple precautions become second nature.
Staff Experience and Training
The quality and experience of our staff play an integral role in our risk management strategy. Every member of our team is multi-talented, combining the practical skills essential to the operation of a mobile live-aboard program with the more traditional university, graduate, and post-graduate degree education.
All are qualified professionals with experience teaching in their subject areas. Our staff includes U.S. Coast Guard licensed captains, IYT/MCA Master of Yachts 200 Ton Offshore and Ocean, PADI scuba instructors, marine scientists, oceanographers and medically trained personnel. Staff to student ratio is 1:4, providing close interaction and individual attention.
Both S/Y Argo and S/Y Ocean Star fly the red ensign. Their home port is Road Town in the British Virgin Islands, meaning that our vessels are part of the UK Ship Register and, therefore the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is one of the best performing flags in the major Port State Control regimes with a reputation for maintaining the highest international standards. For this reason, the majority of the world’s quality yachts fly the red ensign. Each yacht is inspected annually by a representative from the BVI Shipping Registry who, on behalf of the MCA, certifies that the vessel has been maintained to their classification standards.
The ability to communicate effectively, clearly and on a timely basis is essential in mitigating risk. Both our office and operational team are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the duration of a voyage.
We communicate via a number of different methods and each vessel is equipped with multiple communications devises that includes:
Email via cellular or satellite
Single side band radio
2 x 406/121.5 MHz EPIRBs (emergency position indicating radio beacons)
Shoreside Medical Support
We work with Remote Medical International (RMI) to provide integrated medical support for the remote environments throughout which we travel. RMI is a Seattle-based company with an international footprint. Through a single point of contact, RMI’s Topside Assistance program extends us world-class medical advice and resources to anywhere in the world.
Throughout the voyage, our staff and students can access RMI’s Global Coordination Center anytime by phone, email or secure video chat. RMI partners with the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates, who thoroughly understand the complexities of medical care in remote settings. Seven seconds in the average time that it takes to speak to a medical professional when calling RMI, which include actively practicing, board-certified emergency and specialist physicians.
Working with RMI we radically improve the quality of our onsite medical care.
Personal Flotation Devices
Every soul aboard is issued a SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) approved Type 1 PFD as well as an ocean rated, auto-inflate PFD and harness which they are required to wear while on deck in accordance with the Sea|mester policy. At the sole discretion of the Sailing Master, there are times when persons can be on deck without their PFD / harness combination. Typically this would be limited to calm seas, during daylight hours, when not under sail. PFD’s and harnesses will always be worn when making way at night or anytime by those working outside the lifelines or higher than deck level.
Sea|mester staff live full-time with their students and much of our success comes from the strong working friendships that form as a result. Staff and students are truly on an expedition together. At times and locations deemed appropriate and safe, students have free time to explore ashore in small groups, yet for the most part, our staff are with their team to lead, guide and experience the voyage together.