College students took to the sea this weekend as they embark on a two-week cruise to Bermuda.

Sixteen College of Charleston students majoring in marine biology and geology set sail Friday with geology professor Leslie Sautter, biology professor Gorka Sancho and geology professor Scott Harris. "This is a very unique opportunity for the students to do research for an extended period of time," Sancho said.

Sautter said the students will get a good idea what life at sea is like. "It will be an active research while at sea, so they want to get the most out of it," said Sautter, of the College of Charleston.

Their vessel is a large, steel-hulled Brigantine vessel known as the SSV Corwith Cramer. It was docked at the Maritime Center on Thursday for a public Open-Ship event.

"We want to expose people to the Sea Education Association and encourage students from high school, college and especially College of Charleston with this cruise," said Beth Doxsee, captain of the vessel.

The Sea Education Association (SEA), is a non-profit organization based in Woods Hole, Mass., focused on sailing education and deploying oceanographic gear. "We've been at it for 35 years, so we've had a lot of practice," Doxsee said. "Sail-training is what we do."

The entire project, which serves as a Maymester/study abroad experience for the students, lasts for more than five weeks. Part of the time students will be acquiring water data and various sea samples. The students will also spend 10 days at Cape Cod, where they will learn from different scientists.

"We will be meeting with scientists from the Marine Biological Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, United States Geological Survey and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution," Sancho said.

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium in Charleston provided a grant which covered 40 percent of the funds, while the college paid for the rest of the expenses. "The college basically paid for ship time," Sautter said. "It was a very generous donation for them to make this happen."

"It's an opportunity of a lifetime for sure," said Eric Sautter, a rising sophomore majoring in marine biology.