"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

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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