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.
Our partners in risk management
It’s our view that risk management is a partnership between all parties and a process that should start before even enrolling in the program. Learn More...
International SOS® (Intl. SOS) is the world's leading medical and security risk services company. With over 11,000 employees, led by 5,200 medical professionals International SOS is in the business of saving and protecting lives from more than 1,000 locations in 90 countries.Learn More...
Ways that we mitigate risk
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.
Vessel Design, Classification & Certification
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 devices that include:
- Cellular phone
- Satellite phone
- Email via cellular or satellite
- VHF radio
- Single side band radio
- 2 x 406/121.5 MHz EPIRBs (emergency position indicating radio beacons)
- SPOT Tracker
Shoreside Medical Support
We work with International SOS to provide integrated medical support for the remote environments in which we travel. International SOS is a US-based company with an international footprint. Through a single point of contact, International SOS Membership extends us world-class medical advice, security services, and evacuation coordination anywhere in the world.
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.
What we expect from you
It’s our view that risk management is a partnership between all parties, and a process that should start before even enrolling in the program.
Prospective students, you know yourself best, so it’s important to learn as much as you can about the Sea|mester experience so you can make an informed decision as to whether our program is a good fit for you at this stage.
Through experience, we know that each student has his or her own personal comfort zone. Whether related to immersing themselves in a new social environment, trying new activities or even tasting new foods, we are all a little different. Our goal is to create a challenging yet physically and emotionally safe environment for our students, yet the Sea|mester experience is not necessarily for everyone.
All Sea|mester experiences are spent exclusively aboard a sailing vessel and the health and well-being of our students are top priorities. While most Voyages are only moderately physically challenging, all programs are designed to provide an intensely emotional and interpersonal experience. Students are sometimes asked to do things they may not believe they are capable of doing. Part of our risk management process is to develop confidence that these activities can be accomplished. This confidence is based on our collective 40 years of experience and the skills of our instructors along with the measured expectation that the student is fully committed to working hard, taking responsibility for him or her self to work effectively in the group to achieve the goals of the program. We expect the following from our students:
Appropriate Leadership Behavior
- Follow the conduct guidelines as laid out in the Student Code of Conduct Agreement
- Work effectively as a member of a team despite potentially stressful and difficult conditions. This may require problem-solving on an interpersonal or group level as well as a willingness to accept differences.
- Contribute to a safe learning environment—no inappropriate verbal or physical behavior toward others is tolerated for any reason.
- Be able to willingly and equally share responsibility with crew mates in daily group tasks. Each student may not do an equal share each day, but over a period of several days, each student should do a proportionate share. All students are learning the skills and being challenged by the conditions and activities; there can be no expectation that any other student will be able to continually assume a greater share of the work or that an instructor can continually focus a greater share of his/her energy and time on one student.
- Effectively communicate ideas and concerns on an individual and group level.
- Have the cognitive ability to learn necessary skills given normal time limitations of a Sea|mester experience.
Personal Safety & Good Judgement
- Be able to stay alert and to focus attention for up to several hours at a time while attending classes, or receiving instructions.
- If taking prescription medications, be able to maintain proper dosage by self-medicating without assistance from instructors or others (unless otherwise discussed with Sea|mester).
- Be able to effectively signal or notify instructors or other student crewmembers of personal distress, injury, or need for assistance.
- Recall and understand hazards and risks previously explained by instructors.
- Be able to independently identify and recognize obvious hazards, such as rough water, collision hazards, purposely capsizing sailing dinghies and other risks associated with the marine environment.
- Recognize and understand the hazards and risks posed by other crew members, which include, but are not limited to, fatigue, state of mind, and actions that may influence judgment and decision-making.
- Be able to effectively alert and warn others of potential or impending dangers such as broken equipment, shifting wind or sea states or other environmental hazards.
- Act responsibly around above-stated hazards to minimize risk even when not directly supervised.
Understand The Inherent Risks
Many of the risks that exist during a Sea|mester Voyage are inherent to international travel and the adventure activities in which we participate. Most can’t be eliminated without destroying the unique character of the program and the activities themselves. Take a moment to download a copy of both our Declaration of Risk and Liability Release as we believe that reviewing and discussing ways to mitigate personal risk as a family is important to do before committing to join an AQ program.
International SOS - Worldwide Reach, Human Touch.
Our Risk Managament Partner
We work with International SOS to provide integrated medical support for the remote environments throughout which we travel. International SOS is a US-based company with an international footprint. Through a single point of contact, International SOS Membership extends us world-class medical advice, security services, and evacuation coordination anywhere in the world.
Because we want to be prepared for every scenario, we facilitate International SOS membership for every Sea|mester student. A critical piece of this plan is that International SOS membership also provides 24/7 access to a robust network of doctors and security services both before and during the trip.
Who is International SOS?
International SOS is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, emotional support, and logistical expertise for international travelers. As part of Sea|mester’s ongoing commitment to the safety of our participants, we have partnered with International SOS to keep our participants healthy, safe, and secure during their time with us.
Traveling internationally comes with inherent risks. No matter the problem, International SOS will coordinate any medical, security, or evacuation needs when Sea|mester participants or staff require them. Their global assistance centers have vetted medical facilities all over the world and have access to resources to aid in an emergency. So if a Sea|mester participant requires evacuation from a sailing vessel in the Caribbean, loses their medication in the Amazon rainforest or needs to see a doctor in rural China – International SOS is there to support them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, anywhere in the world.
What are the benefits of an International SOS Membership?
Before and throughout the trip, our staff and participants can access International SOS medical or security staff anytime by phone, email or through their app. International SOS thoroughly understand the complexities of medical care in remote settings and radically improves the quality of our onsite medical care.
How do I use my International SOS membership before travel?
International SOS prepares you before you travel by providing on-call access to experts that can help you become informed about the places you’ll be traveling. Specifically, your membership entitles you to medical information, security assistance, and any precautions you can take before going abroad. Here’s some of the information International SOS can advise you on before your program:
By phone or by email:
- Medical Information
- Vaccination Advice
- Security Information
- Transportation & Accomodation Considerations
- Cultural Considerations
- Visa and Passport Information and Assistance
- Specific information on countries and large cities
- Level and types of risks
- Local customs and political considerations
- Practical considerations like communications and currency
How do I use my International SOS membership while traveling?
Through Sea|mester Staff, participants will have access to all of the professional medical and security expertise that comes with an International SOS membership. If a participant has a medical concern they should check with their staff members who’ll determine the best course of action. When appropriate, they will contact International SOS doctors who will advise on treatment and refer to one of their previously vetted medical facilities if necessary.
While traveling Sea|mester groups will have access to:
- Medical and emergency advice including referrals to doctors and specialists all over the world.
- Coordination and verification of treatment with the treating practitioner.
- Guaranteed payment of medical expenses provided for in your health insurance contract.
- Email alert in the event of a health or security risk develops in a country.
- Assistance in the event a passport or other official document is lost or stolen.
- Referral to vetted security and medical service providers.
In the event of an emergency:
- Emergency medical evacuation/repatriation.
- Compassionate visit and family travel assistance.
- Hospital follow-up, control of healthcare expenses.
- Recommendations in the event of an emergency or critical event.
- Organization of the evacuation and repatriation by our teams of in-field expert, through to the final destination.
What does my international SOS membership cost?
Because we want to be prepared for every scenario, we facilitate International SOS membership for every Sea|mester participant. We will add the membership fee as a separate item on your tuition invoice, and prior to the program, we’ll send all of your International SOS membership details. While we understand that this is an additional fee, we believe our participants and their families will appreciate the value of International SOS’s services along with the peace of mind that this resource brings. The cost of the membership is:
- $35 per student for Journeys up to 14-days.
- $50 per student for 17 and 21-day Journeys.
Does International SOS membership cover medical expenses?
No, International SOS is not a medical insurance provider so will not pay for medical treatment expenses. International SOS is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, emotional support, and logistical expertise for international travelers so our partnership covers the cost of these services including up to $1,000,000 coverage for medical, sickness or security-related evacuation expenses and coordination fees.
That said, as part of their service, International SOS will guarantee payment to medical care providers in order to begin necessary treatment. They do this because many countries around the world have medical systems that require upfront payment before treatment, even in an emergency. International SOS will guarantee and pay up-front costs associated with their medical care to ensure you receive immediate treatment. Ultimately, the participant and/or their family are responsible for paying for medical treatment rendered. For this reason, all Sea|mester participants are required to have comprehensive medical insurance coverage prior to traveling overseas with us. While some domestic insurance policies provide coverage while overseas, many do not, and those that do often prohibit some of the more adventurous activities included in our programs. We suggest that you check with your insurance provider on what is and is not covered while traveling with us, then determine whether purchasing an additional short term international policy is a prudent decision.
Sea|mester students have the opportunity to protect their trip investment and fill any gaps in international medical insurance through a policy with Travelex. Along with tuition protection, this policy provides up to $50,000 in emergency medical & dental expenses. Since Sea|mester cannot purchase this plan on behalf of the participant, it must be purchased directly from Travelex. Go to www.seamester.com/trip-insurance/ to learn more about Abroad insurance.
What information do I need before calling International SOS?
Your International SOS membership is automatically activated once you are confirmed on any Sea|mester program. Once enrolled, you will receive your membership number along with a digital copy of the Sea|mester International SOS membership card with all the information you’ll need for assistance. The membership number is all that is required to access International SOS by phone, through the International SOS website, and/or mobile application. We highly recommend looking into the information available online and downloading the mobile application at http://app.internationalsos.com or your App store before calling an assistance center. Participants will receive a physical copy of their membership card to carry while they are on a Sea|mester program.
How does International SOS assist with evacuations?
International SOS is the world’s leading medical and security services company and all Sea|mester participants have access to their global response network. Through their 27 assistance centers, International SOS operates from over 850 sites in 70 countries with 1,400 physicians and 200 security specialists on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Not only does International SOS have the ability to coordinate and support evacuation services almost anywhere in the world but through Sea|mester, International SOS will pay up to $1,000,000 for emergency evacuation expenses as well. Whether for medical reasons, inclement weather, or security threats – International SOS can coordinate professional evacuation services at any point.
Who do I contact with questions about International SOS?
For clarification on what’s available through your International SOS membership, feel free to call into the Sea|mester office or email Info@seamester.com with any questions.