"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

New England

>> Monday, May 18, 2009

The studentia are busy bees. It was a short, but hard earned transit from the Chesapeake Bay. I will let the navigation experts fill you in on the details. Right now we are in the charming Mystic public library working on final projects and papers. Classes are wrapping up with focuses including the New England fishing industries of the past and present; marine resources, the Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship, and preparation for the U.S. Coast Guard Launch Operator’s License Exam.

The Harvey Gamage is docked right in the middle of the Mystic Seaport’s waterfront, acclaimed as the “nation’s leading maritime museum.” Thus, it has been quite easy to step off the boat and explore more of our American maritime history visiting historic ships such as the Charles W. Morgan, Joseph Conrad and L.A. Dunton; visiting the re-created 19th century coastal village; and special exhibits like the Mapping of the Pacific Coast. Our students even had a go at rowing the whaleboats through the Mystic fog. Not as easy as it looks.

A favorable breeze from the south west is the forecast for tomorrow, so if all goes well we will be bound for Stellwagen’s Bank to look for humpback whales. We’ll let you know our findings.

-Christine Honan (Head Educator)


Spring time in the mid-Atlantic

>> Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A list of some things related to our latest adventures in Charleston and the Chesapeake:

-Scavenger hunts in downtown Charleston
-Kayaking with alligators and swallow tailed kites in Wampaw Swamp
-Visiting a captive breeding center for endangered red wolves
-Touring the Charleston aquarium and the turtle rehabilitation center
-Ship’s maintenance with student help
-Lots of library time researching for independent projects
-Spring thunderstorms underway
-Sailing in warm spring breezes in the Chesapeake
-Sailing on a skipjack…do you know what a skipjack is?
-Discovering more unique dugout canoes
-FEASTING on blue crabs

Life is good on our voyage north.


Captain's Log Archive

Charleston, SC May 2009
Cumberland Island, GA one of my all time favorite spots. Plus Spirit of Massachusetts is in and we can see old shipmates and new friends the students get off in Fernandina beach for the all important icecream and some wandering in town between classes. Cumberland is magic as always walking down paths overgrown with live oaks and armadillos running around. We shared an evening of fun with the students of Spirit and a pilot from Fernandina who talked to our prospective merchant mariners about academy life .All to soon we are underway again bound for Charleston sc always a welcome stop students were off and running yesterday on a scavenger hunt and today they are working with the crew doing ships maintenance mostly painting as everybody knows a marine professional is just a boat painter .
Next we are bound around Cape Hatteras which we always approach with caution still many times I have been taught a lesson in caution and the power of the sea. So we will wait until the wind is just right and make our dash around and into the Chesapeake bay I’m so excited!
Fair winds Capt. Flansburg

Fernandina Beach, FL April 25th, 2009

Welcome home! We said as students came back from Spring Break. Away for one week they came back well rested and ready to go. We ( the crew) spent the week doing ships maintenance we replaced the Radar with a new chart plotter/ radar, a new toy for the Mates , repaired the damaged bolt rope in the fores’l, built new linen cabinets for the forward compartments and many other small jobs we couldn’t do underway. We also took some time off.
But now our shipmates were back and we had two more. New friends from Grand Cayman Sarah and Fred folks we had met when we were there old friends of Christine’s who were joining just for the passage to Dry Tortugas. They had a lot to offer both being teachers and island conservationists (check out blueiguana.org to see some of the work they are involved with).
After some safety classes to remind the students they were back on a ship and waiting for a cold front to pass, Harvey Gamage was underway bound for the Dry Tortugas and Ft Jefferson with a light northerly wind to see us on our way. The trip down was quiet we did catch two more fish always welcome.
Mr. Simpson was at the con with Christo steering and we made our way in on a slow bell. The anchorage was small and crowded but we found a good spot with great holding even if the night before our arrival other boats had drug their anchors I was confident we wouldn’t.
This spot is remarkable for several facts as the last place the Battleship Maine took on coal before sailing to Havana and her place in history, also there is a Sooty Tern rookery witch was going full swing and a marine sanctuary with some living reef right here in the US! Students got off the ship for class, snorkeling, yoga, art and a BBQ run by our apprentice cook Anthony. Also Schooner Olympics where the three watches pit there sailing skills and knowledge against one another for bragging rights I was so impressed that even after break the students knew all the lines and knots without fail and the contest was the closest I have seen in a long while.
We were soon underway again bound for Fernandina Beach Fla. With a quick stop in Key West for provisioning. The winds were light but fair and the Gulf stream carried us along so we have made good time getting here. We will be seeing old friends aboard Spirit of Massachusetts as she is inbound from the Bahamas on a different trip we all look forward to seeing her and exploring Fernandina and Cumberland Island the whole east coast awaits !
Fair winds, Captain Flansburg.


From Florida to Georgia to South Carolina

>> Saturday, May 2, 2009

No need to be bashful, nonstop action continues with our crew. Hustled off the boat as a U.S. Naval submarine approached the channel, we quickly disembarked Harvey Gamage and stormed the white sandy shores surrounding Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, FL.
“I enjoyed getting dropped off on the beach followed immediately by a detailed, interactive tour of how soldiers have lived in the fort,” Sari Weiss stated.
Built as one of the Third System of Fortifications designed to protect the U.S. coastline, today Fort Clinch is no loner considered of military value. However, our animated “living soldier” tour guide, Sergeant George, proudly shared the history of its construction and usage with our group. Pearce Flynn noted that he was “a crazy guy” and will never forget the Sergeant’s orders, “If we’re not talkin’, then we’re walkin’. ’” Good motivation to ask more questions.
We made our exit across the drawbridge and marched on a foot path meandering through the live oak forest on our way out of Fort Clinch State Park. It certainly was nice to stretch the legs and for Anthony Merrill, “It was fun taking a run through the woods. It kind of reminded me of home.”
By the afternoon we made it to the small historic downtown of Fernandina and dispersed in small numbers to local eateries for soft shell crab, ice cream, pulled pork, veggie wraps, and key lime pie. Josephine Miller commented that she “really liked the chance to break out in small groups and go out to lunch in town in shore clothes. I ate a veggie sandwich and it was so good.”
The following day we were anchored alongside Cumberland Island, GA next to our friends on the Spirit of Massachusetts. Quite an enjoyable Sunday afternoon- sailing Gecko, schooner trivia and reading, followed by an evening BBQ ashore with the Spirit crew. As Madeline Owen declared, “We immediately jumped in the trees and went armadillo hunting. I was proud.”
Cody Barry recalled that “It was interesting to talk with the students from Spirit who have had similar experiences.”
“At one point I was standing on the beach while the sun was setting and I was just blown away,” Mackenzie Gassett observed.
The dark night sky, accompanied by the thin sliver of the new moon, created “something magical walking back from the beach through the trees. It was so dark and the scent was so nice, “ Alyssa Reetz noted.
Annie Wilcox shared, “When we first walked back into the forests and we saw fireflies, I had never seen anything like that before and I was taken aback.”
Similarly, Christo Milholland felt that “The fireflies were one of the coolest things that I have ever seen because they were so sparkly.”
“Upon each step through the shady ground,” Lucas George wrote, “eerie Spanish moss reached down at me illuminated by fireflies.” An enchanting island indeed.
The following day we headed out on Hanna Jovine’s “favorite part” of our latest adventures, “the long walk and getting to see so much of the island.” We trekked about 15 miles around the barrier island’s diverse habitats including saltwater marsh, live oak and pine hardwood forests, sand dunes and beach.
Along the way, “It felt amazing to be so close to wild horses,” declared Sally Ngyuen.
Logan Welborn noticed that “It was the first time I had seen wild, or feral, horses not behind fences and running freely. It was so cool to sit down in the field so closely and watch them.”
In general, Emily Burke “loved the walk we went with the trees arching over us and Spanish moss draping down.”
Anton Landauer was lucky enough to see “an alligator pop out of the green marsh behind Plum Orchard. At first if looked like a log…it kept disappearing and emerging from the water.”
“I was excited to see an alligator and watch it keep snapping at us,” Jamaine Gooding explained.
As we headed south on the long stretch of hard packed sand, we encountered much marine life and debris in the wrack-line. Chandler Neale expressed that the “horseshoe crabs were awesome- so prehistoric looking.” There certainly was no shortage of natural encounters along our full day’s walk.
With a few sore feet, we were back on our voyage north, once again with little wind. However, mother nature kept us on our toes as we were escorted by Atlantic Spotted and Common Bottlenose dolphins as well as green, loggerhead and leatherback turtles. Along the passage Tristan Pavlik “saw a crazy fish jump out of the water about seven times and it was about three feet long. It was pretty cool.”
The students have been working noticeably on all of their school work as well. In fact, Mariclaire Joseph has been so dedicated to completing her artwork and presentation for the port report that she has yet to find the time to even give a personal statement about Cumberland Island. Currently, in Navigation Seamanship students just completed a quiz on local apparent noon and are beginning to tackle the nuts and bolts to take the U.S. Coast Guard test for a Launch Operator’s License. In literature students are in the midst of giving presentations on the myths associated with the constellations and are now starting the famous poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge. In Marine Science students are studying the diversity of life in the oceans. Investigations including looking at plankton with microscopes and (cross our fingers) observing whales feeding off the New England banks further along our voyage. While in Charleston, history studies will include the Civil War, American Slave plantations, and the impact of Caribbean immigration to the Southern United States.

-Christine Honan (Head Educator)


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