College of Science

Environmental Science MS

AMWS Alumnus Sails Across the Atlantic

Jake Cline, an alumnus of the Applied Marine and Watershed Science graduate program (now known as ENSCI), wrapped up 2019 by embarking on the adventure of a lifetime - sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.

We recently touched base with Jake to gain insight into this epic accomplishment. To learn more about this experience, check out Jake's interview below.

What sparked your interest in sailing the Atlantic?

I had wanted to do a sailing trip for years, due to a combination of my fascination with the sea and a desire to put myself way, way outside my comfort zone. A friend needed a crew member and I had recently finished at CSUMB, so I thought this would be a fitting, if unorthodox, way to celebrate.

How long was your journey?

31 days. We began on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, sailed 9 days south to the island nation of Cape Verde (900 miles), then traveled due west to the U.S. Virgin Islands (2300 miles). This is largely the same route that sailors have been taking for centuries, including the famed naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.

Did you learn anything new (skills, reflections, etc.) throughout this time at sea?

I learned the basics of setting the sails (i.e. which sail configuration to use based on the smallest changes in wind speed and direction). I learned how to work on an inboard diesel motor, how to catch fish with a hand line and how to cook on a stove while being tossed by the sea. I also read 8 books.

Were you able to apply any of the skills you acquired in graduate school to this experience?

I was able to assist my fellow crew by offering knowledge of atmospheric and oceanographic patterns. Knowledge of global coordinate systems helped me learn how to navigate electronically. It was also fun to identify different species of dolphins, turtles and seabirds. I would love to repeat the journey while collecting samples and doing some type of small research project along the way.

What was your favorite part about sailing the Atlantic?

Probably conquering the substantial amount of fear and trepidation I had before beginning the journey. I was proud to be able to execute an idea that sounded totally ludicrous at first. Piloting the vessel at night, alone, using only the stars was also something I'll never forget.

How does this experience connect with your career/personal goals?

Adventure and science are my two great motivators. While not directly connected to my career aspirations, the trip taught me more than I knew previously about self-reliance, perseverance, and where one's limits truly lie.

An incredible example of the extraordinary opportunities that await our graduates. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Jake! If you'd like to learn more about Jake's graduate thesis work, check out his thesis on CSUMB's Digital Commons.