"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

Photos from The passage to the Dominican Republic

>> Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Conner at the helm

Morgan at the helm during a squall, or as we like to call them, a fresh water shower!

Sophie stearing by the wind


Journal Thoughts

“Journal Thoughts” - Anonymous

Getting to know people is one of the benefits to being in such a small living space. You make friends with people you never knew before, in a way that is totally unique to this experience. In our watch group , we have many different personalities. We may never have spent time together if it wasn’t for this trip. We’ve all seen each other learn and make mistakes. We’ve seen each other at all hours of the day and night. It’s an experience unique to our group. We’ve had some rough patches, and times when we had to drop what we were doing and support one another. We have a type of “Breakfast Club” dynamic going on. We have been taken out of our comfort zones to complete this challenge together.
“Who will love you? Who will fight? Who will fall far behind?” – Skinny Love, Bon Iver

Bow watch is a good time to get perspective and self –reflect. It is the only time you’re alone, but you’re not lonely. It is interesting to think about where you were a year ago, and where you are right now. You’ve changed so much, but you don’t realize it while its happening. Even in the past few weeks there has been so much to learn; from basic knot tying to calling sails. Time is slipping by though, already we have less than a month left of our voyage. If all this change happened in the few short weeks we have been on Ocean, what will happen in the next few weeks? What about next year? If we’ve made it this far, the possibilities are endless.
“When everything is lonely I can be my own best friend. I’ll get a coffee and the paper, have my own conversations.”
- Brighteyes


Sea Time byJake Adick

“Sea Time” By Jake Adick

October 23, 2009
En Route to Samana, Dominican Republic

Time. A simple unit of measure, yet it is so much more to us on Ocean Classroom. To us, 10:00 pm does not exist, it’s 2200. To us the word minute does not just mean minutes in an hour, it also means minutes in a degree. A minute to us also means a single nautical mile on the latitude scale. Our day is not scheduled out in classes, what we are going to learn, and when we are going to do certain things. To us, all we know is when watch starts and ends, and that we have two classes at 1000 and 1400.
During watch anything can happen. You might have 30 minutes of idle time, or you might be out on the head rigging putting a miter furl on the jib tops’l. Still, to us, time is measured by the events taking place, not by what your wristwatch says. We have no need for it, the only thing we need to know is when we take the helm, stand bow watch, due a boat check and when it is “time” to rotate duties. Although being on time is immeasurably important, if you asked us what day it was, it is guaranteed the majority could not tell you.
At mountain classroom, before we left for Ocean, our literature teacher said “One day on land equals three days at sea.” Such a true statement. Our days are long, broken up by random hours of sleep, when you spend more then two days at sea everything meshes together. Right now I am approaching my eighth day at sea heading towards the Dominican Republic and I just learned today what day of the week it actually is. Truly, it is a strange feeling, it almost feels like life is simpler without the complexity of dates, times and long schedules. It lets you think more clearly and enjoy that once in a lifetime sunset while perched high aloft on the foremast.


Night Watch by Sam Brown

Sam Brown
Night Watch
10. 24. 09

As we have spent more and more time on the open ocean following the daily rhythm of life aboard Westward, any shipmate can easily identify their favorite part of the day. Personally, night watches are my favorite part of the twenty-four hour day. On one particular night watch, we were motor-sailing in calm conditions about thirteen miles off the coast of Grand Caicos Island. I stood on bow watch scanning the horizon enjoying the warm breeze run through my hair. Visibility was perfect. Far off, about one point on the starboard bow, I could see a minuscule white light. I waited a few minutes until I was sure it was a light and not a star, and reported it to my mate, Mr. Dimock. He confirmed the light and we went below into the dog house to look on the radar. I was right, a ship of some sort was out there, and holding a course towards us. We were going to have to wait until he got a little closer to make our next decision. Slowly, the tiny white light I had seen grew bigger, until it was many white lights and red and green navigation lights heading towards us. I am going to see if I can contact them on the radio. We went back into the doghouse and tuned the VHF radio to channel 16, the international distress and hailing channel. Mr. Dimock spoke into the microphone, identifying us, our latitude and longitude, as well as theirs. Right after finishing our message, a voice answered back in a thick Eastern European accent. The ship shrouded in darkness was a cruise ship, the Liberty. The captain was aware of us and passing us port to port with a CPA – or closets point of approach – of two miles. We thanked him and signed off the radio. Ten minutes later, we had the binoculars on deck peering at the floating city just two miles off our beam. The cruise ship was so lit up it temporarily covered up the stars. It was strange to have a community of forty people so distinctly separate from a floating city of a couple thousand people. Not before long, the cruise ship was behind us, a tiny speck of white on the black horizon. My watch was just about over, and I assumed bow watch again, peering out at the horizon. This watch is just another example of why I like night watches. Every watch is spontaneous and busy. The stars and moon, when not covered by the clouds, practically illuminate over the deck and sometimes it feels as if our watch is the only watch on the boat. The thrill of sailing at night is an experience I simply can’t capture in words. I look forward to night watch every day.


Ocean Poem

Ocean Poem
By Lily Munsill, Piper Tompkins, Story Southworth, and Maddie Koenig
(This poem is about our passage from Fernandino to Samana, Dominican Republic).

Hoist up the anchor
Make ready the sails.
We’re leaving America
With the wind at our tail.

Really big seas.
Really big clouds.
Two week long voyage,
Let’s climb up the shrouds!

We’re standing aloft,
Our feet are shaking
But the beautiful view
Is so breath-taking.

We furl the course!
We strike the raffee!
We sew up the jib!
Get drenched in time for nav-sea.

We have daily chores
That take a half hour or more.
We brasso the quarterdeck
And scrub the soles.
We wash all our dishes
And freshen the bowls.

Ten dolphins off the bow!
Swimming as fast as can be.
There are sea turtles now!
And a whale that just breached!

I’m standing on bow watch.
Watching it all.
Are there ships coming?
I think there’s a squall!

Haul in your downhaul.
Tend the main sheet.
Ease the halyard.
Take it to the cleat.

The head sails are struck.
The lines are in place.
Your watch is over.
Wipe the salt from your face.

Hang up your foulies.
Wring out your clothes.
We’re all very salty
From our heads to our clothes.

Ocean is great!
We’re having a blast
During all our watches,
As well as in class.

We do get wet
And our bunks may be small
There’s some sea sickness
But it’s part of it all!

Our hair is blonder.
Our skin’s getting tan.
You can see all the work we do
Through the calluses on our hands.

This long passage
Feels like a year,
But it’s so amazing
And the water’s blue and clear.

Look at the sunset
The beautiful moon.
Let’s not fret,
We’ll be there soon.


Cumberland Island Reflections

“Early Morning” By Elliott Hays-Wehls
October 16, 2009
Pre-Sunrise, Cumberland Island, GA

My God, how beautiful the natural world is. I have been so lost in the world of man while on Ocean, I completely forgot the unmoving beauty and stillness that comes with nature. I believe today is Friday; which is fitting, seeing as on Fridays at Proctor I usually catch the sunrise from the water at Elbow Pond. At the moment I am watching that same sunrise, only from the warm Atlantic Ocean. We are not at the beach celebrating the tradition of the Polar Swim; no we are here for fun and education. We are being taught how to appreciate, in these moments of alone time; just how important our thoughts are. We are learning that what we think and how we act is who we are. Simple lessons of self and responsibility.
As a song by The Waifs says “Take it in, take it on in. Now is the time that will not come again. Take it in, take it on in. Now is the time that is here for the living.” I am going to do just that. As I watch the color of the magnificent clouds change from gray to blur to white, as the shade of the horizon brightens to majestic hues of gold and red.. All of this from the ever moving, ever beautiful ocean.

Cumberland Island
by Maggie Hull
October 16, 2009

This morning was a bit indescribable. Waking at 5:30 am, long before the awakening of the sun over the horizon, we prepared for a long day of exploring and experiencing this island. Silently walking through the dark jungle-like terrain, we ended on a long stretch of a fine white-sand beach, just as the sun began to rise over the ocean. The water soon turned orange, yellow, then a deep blue, and the fins of both dolphins and sharks emerged just feet past the break of the waves. Swimming out into the warm water, we all turned to find a full arc of rainbow stretching over the beach. The sky was every color possible from every surrounding direction- orange, yellow, bright blue, dark grey – the morning truly couldn’t have been better. Following the boardwalk back into the jungle, we now sit upon the branches of live oak trees awaiting the long day ahead of us.

Cumberland Island
Madison Koenig
10 / 16/ 09

This morning was amazing. 5:30 am wakeups were less than satisfactory, and via our boat rides to the island, we were all on land by 6:30. We had a short walk in the dark, which was rather scary after learning that the island is inhabited by wild horses, armadillos, and alligators, not to mention lots of snakes and spiders. We walked to the start of the board walk as a group and then started a solo walk to the beach. On my walk I thought about Proctor, and how most kids at school were just about hitting the snooze button on their alarms hoping to squeeze in an extra 5 minutes of sleep, and I was walking on a boardwalk to the beach in Georgia. On the beach we watched the sun start to rise above the horizon and we ran into the waves. As we swam the sun rose and rain clouds started to move in. Sharks were spotted just on the other side of the break and we ran back to the sand. False alarm; just dolphins! The swim call was back on. From the water we watched a double rainbow form as the sun continued to rise on the horizon. It was the ultimate morning that made 5:30 am wakeups worth it. It is only 8 am, but already I have had more excitement here today than three days worth of excitement back at school. While everyone is in classes today, we will be preparing for a two week passage. We will do a section of the “death march”, a 26 mile trek around Cumberland Island. The walk might be miserable as we move along, but after a week or so at sea it will definitely have been worth it. I just keep reminding myself, this is school and there is no better way to learn about the world than seeing the world first hand.


Virtue by Bud Hallock

>> Saturday, October 17, 2009

For the Ocean is the Ocean
It has a way of virtue
Both wicked and rewarding
But it is the virtue that makes the
Land…for it has no virtue,
Just the adherence to common conformity
That yields its dullness
Despite a pyramid and a tower,
It cannot hold a way based light to the majestic
Power of the Ocean’s beauty of the
For it, and everything about it,
I love
From the pit of my heart to the essence of my feeling.
The Ocean is what, of what, I love.

Written by Bud Hallock


Sailing South by Story Southworth

I just came off of bow watch and it was a moment that will stay with me for a while. First of all it's really foggy and the clouds are covering up all the light so its pitch black out, like the real, dark night, black. The kind your eyes can’t adjust to. As I was standing up there I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of bow watch was on a night like this. I wouldn’t be able to see anything until it was very close.

But I kept up the constant searching, the night vigil, despite these thoughts, sweeping the horizon for lights but finding none.

I happened to glance down, and for a moment I had to squint my eyes, disoriented. Shapes were moving in and out of the waves, but they seemed to be on fire, and electrical glowstick fire. The water the bow sliced through also churned back “on fire”, but then disappeared, turning an inky black and melting back into the depths. I knew what the fire was – bioluminesence, and after a moment I was able to identify the shapes as dolphins, about 5 of them, playing in the bow waves, cutting weaving, the occasional fin breaking the surface. A dance I didn’t know the steps to.

What had originally caused me pause, I now realize, was how the bioluminesence affected the dolphin bodies. The seal, streamline shape of their bodies was highlighted, and they each left a trail of bubbles, comments on the inky black water. They belong in the world of the unreal.

I must of stood there, completely captivated, craning my neck down for a good twenty minutes, watching as they slowly dropped off the bow, one at a time, all to the port side. After they had gone, I was left there, surrounded by fog, watching the water catch fire, and then melt back into darkness, becoming another mile of water racing out behind us.


Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island is one of the crew’s favorite places on the planet. Although it has a history of human inhabitants, from pre-civil war plantations, to communities of hundreds of African Americans, to wealthy descendants of the Carnegies, the Georgia barrier island currently is a national park and wilderness preserve of maritime forests and marshes. We shuttled ashore at 6 am and walked silently through the dark, twisted forest of live oak trees to the Atlantic coast. White sand beaches stretch the 17 mile long length of the island. We sat on the beach in the cool blue pre-dawn glow, quiet with our thoughts, reflecting upon the hard work it has taken in over three weeks to come so far. As the orange dawn rose, we bathed in the cool breakers. On Ocean Classroom, we joke that there will be magical days when the students will see dolphins jumping over rainbows. As it turns out, we were in luck on this sweet morning! The early light illuminated a doubled arched rainbow over the island, and just past the breakers, dolphins surfaced for air. We all felt awe and excitement on our secluded beach, watching the sun rise under double rainbow arches, feet from dolphins! We spent the day hiking and exploring this magnificent wilderness. We visited the ruins of Dungeness, a burned down mansion once owned by the Carnegies and utilized as a center of social life at the turn of the century. The eerie remains of this once lively home reminded us that this is one of the unique places on the earth reclaimed by nature. Its stewards are now the wild horses, alligators, armadillos, and eagles. Cumberland is famous for its wild horses, and we observed some of these free animals feeding on the grassy fields surrounding the building. Armadillos crossed out paths while we hiked through the live oak forests. After a very long afternoon hike, we collapsed near the docks and had a sunset BBQ, savoring our last moments on land for potentially two weeks.




Kayden, the acting Ocean Classroom Director from Proctor Academy, met us in Charleston and spent four days with us. It was great to have Kayden join us for this time!

We also received our mail drop. Thank you to everyone who sent letters and mail.

The Scavenger Hunt in Charleston took students around this historic city. Students searched for things such as landmarks, sweet tea, ghost stories, and citadel cadets. It was the highlight of Charleston for many students.

Another highlight was our visit to the South Carolina Aquarium. In addition to studying the marine life off the local coast, we visited the Sea Turtle Rescue Hospital. It is the only kind of facility like this in the United States. We saw loggerhead and green turtles face to face. The hospital nurses injured turtles back to health and has released over eighty back into the wild so far. Most of the injuries are caused by boating accidents. One turtle in the hospital had its skull cut in half by a propeller. The skilled veterinarians at the hospital were able to repair it and the young turtle is well on its way to being re-released. We all fell in love with sea turtles!

We spent a rainy afternoon exploring Fort Sumter, where the first battle of the civil war occurred. It only rained, however, when we were indoors! Students learned about naval war strategies during the Civil War.

Students also worked on their midterm exams in Charleston. It’s hard to believe, but the Academic program is almost half way finished.

We will miss this friendly southern city. Thank you Charleston for all your hospitality.

The following is student Sam Brown's account of the Scavenger Hunt:

While the Westward was docked snuggly at Charleston Maritime Canter, students were given an opportunity to see the city of Charleston in a perfect way; a scavenger hunt. Paired in groups of three and given a lengthy checklist, Proctor students swarmed the city armed with digital cameras and sunscreen. Charleston has a unique permanent open air market that run several blocks long and had hundreds of local vendors, selling everything from civil war musket shells to hand made sweetgrass baskets. Charleston is a city with many superstitions, including an operating fire station occupied by two ghosts. One group of students got to see a bed in the fire station in which the ghost was sighted. Charleston’s junk food was also quite different that what you might find at Jakes in Andover. Boiled peanuts and sweet tea are local favorites. Charleston’s famous “rainbow row” is a cobblestone city block with three story tenements of every color of the rainbow. After two hours of exploration, students rushed back to Westward to tally points. Everyone has a great time and enjoyed eating out on the town later that week. The Proctor students had a great time in Charleston and are looking forward to the Caribbean.

Sam Brown on Bow Watch:


Captain´s Blog, Cumberland Island

>> Friday, October 16, 2009

At anchor, Cumberland Island, GA
This entry finds us several hundred miles down the Eastern Seaboard from the Chuckatuck Creek. Our passage and subsequent port stop in Charleston passed in a blur.The Carolina Capes (Hatteras, Lookout, and Fear) lived up to their reputation as we made our way South. We departed the Chesapeake with a fresh headwind, but were able to shape up nicely at ordered course full and by- we’re getting better at it- for Hatteras. Barely clear of the capes, Ali took a tumble down a ladder and sprained her ankle. Once we were sure it wasn’t fractured, we wrapped her up and stood her down. The weather continued to be squirrelly, and we went through a number of sail changes along the way. By the time we were abeam Hatteras, we were barreling along close hauled in a strengthening breeze. This became a strong headwind about the time we hit the Gulf Stream, which was running close to shore. The resulting sea and current made progress difficult and many hands return to the rail to commune with Neptune. The forecast promised a Northerly breeze in the next 12 hours, so we “hove to”, basically stopped the ship under sail to ease the motion, and waited it out. We lost about 30 miles to the ENE as we rode the mighty Gulf Stream, but gained a great deal of energy from the ship’s company. The breeze filled in as promised, and the ship’s routine returned to normal. Students give a daily progress report, updating all hands on our navigational progress, the weather forecast, fuel & water consumption, and any ship’s issues. We knew we were in for some light airs as a High Pressure system moved in, and tried to get as much sailing in as we could. Eventually, a little over a day out from Charleston, the breeze gave out and we gave in and started the engine. It was a sound we heard until dockside. I, for one, am looking forward to the more steady trade winds- even if they are head winds. During the passage, students refined their navigation skills as well as their ability to move through the ship and its operations with confidence and ability. They took on more responsibility for running routines, chores, and sail evolutions. They showed me that they are more than ready for the next phase of they voyage, where they step into the role of the Deckhands. In Charleston, the students scrubbed down the ship and were rewarded with a burgeoning mail call. I’ll let them fill you in on this welcoming and busy port. It was, as always, overloaded. The highlights: Sophie returned, Kayden visited, students talked to home for the first time, lots of exams and quizzes, field trips, provisioning, and errands. We got Ali’s ankle cleared by a doctor. There were visits from family, friends, alum, and onlookers. There were compliments all around from our hosts. Before departing, we officially shifted gears. The students are all in the same watches, but are standing with different mates and crew than they started with. It is the student voices we hear calling sail. They take point in running the logistics of the ship. This is a giant step in responsibility and leadership. I am confident that they will meet and exceed this challenge as they have done all along, but it won’t be easy.We anchored late yesterday afternoon, after a thirty hour passage. Mr. Greg Bailey joined the ship’s company as “supercargo”- to provide the extra license needed for our offshore transit. This is the “Mr. Bailey” who served last fall as mate on Spirit of Massachusetts, and is a welcome addition to our company. (Thanks to Vic of VIP taxi and the crew of the Lucy R. Ferguson for help with his luggage.) The students headed ashore before dawn to watch the sun come up. Cumberland Island is a favorite of our crew, and most are ashore as well. Tomorrow we shift to Fernandina Beach, FL (just a few miles away) to wrap up the final details before sailing for the Caribbean. Wind and weather depending, we’ll be outbound by sunset. The updates will include mostly position and conditions until we reach the Dominican Republic in a couple of weeks. The photos sent will be of darker skinned, lighter haired, salt encrusted young men and women. The video might show a swagger, and I promise any phone calls or e-mails will be in a language close to- but not quite- English. Wish us fair winds and safe passage.

16 October 2009


A Note from Zada Clark

A Note From My Journal”
by Zada Clark
Well, I am back from the horrible realm of seasickness {knock on wood}. It’s amazing how much everything improves once your body and mind feel good. The sun is shinning and we’re cruising along enroute to the Chesapeake Bay. Last night I had watch from 2000-0000 {8pm to midnight for you land folks}. The ocean was kind of eerie under the night sky, a misty blanket of fog spread over the mirror like sea. Standing by the bow I watched the ship slicing through the water creating foamy crests, which were tiny compared to the six feet of white water and spray we were experiencing earlier. Living on the sea, the ocean is both my enemy and my best friend. I love her, but she’s quite bipolar. One hour she’ll be moving and roaring, dotted with white water and surging with the most powerful force ever seen. She can calm down, become still and relaxed. This is when we get along the best. One of my favorite moments is bow watch. After heaving myself out of my bunk, bleary eyed and exhausted, it’s a relief to stand in one place and finally breathe. The ocean was finally all tucked in. A ripple would gently roll across, like a peaceful exhale of oxygen. There was no land last night as my eyes skimmed the horizon searching for the possible dangers of oncoming boats. Just miles and miles of sea, no end. The scene was undisturbed by neon lights and tall structures. I felt loneliness wash over me. Not a loneliness that makes you want to cry and be comforted by a friend. This loneliness carved an empty hole in my head that I couldn’t seem to fill with the noise of cars or sirens or loud hammering music because there weren’t any. The only sound was the whoosh of the wind against the forestay sail. It was just me and my new friend, the vast ocean. It was a silence that left me able to think to myself. Even though I had to stay alert. I was able to delve into my head. Picking apart and taking files out I hadn’t seen in quite some time. I love this moment when I’m alone, spending time with myself. As I look at Story, who’s on bow watch right now. I can make out her blank face. Even with all the hustle and bustle on deck, she has her back to it, head to the horizon. Spending time inside her head.
Zada Clarke


Captain's Blog Chuckatuck Creek

From the banks of the Chuckatuck Creek, Eclipse, VA

At 1930 on Friday the 2nd, WESTWARD altered course towards the Cape Henry Pilot station at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. We’d had a spectacular romp of a sail leaving Mystic, making fast passage, followed by several hours of motoring in flat calm. Finally under sail again, we were bound for the Nansemond River- my home waters- and a couple of days of exploring salt marshes and inland fisheries.

The mate notified me that we were being hailed by the Virginia Pilots on the VHF radio. I was asked what our ETA was to our anchorage: “I’m on a phone call here, Cap, just wondering when you’ll be in…”. I responded that we’d be anchoring near midnight in the Nansemond River. “No problem Cap, you’ve got a couple of ships sailing from Norfolk, no other traffic”. The mate asked how they had known to hail us by name. The answer came quickly. The folks back home were eagerly anticipating our arrival. They’d called a friend in the Pilot’s Association, and asked them to see if we were in range.

This makes my fifth stop, and fourth Proctor trip, at home. My hometown turns out to make this field trip easy, fun, educational, and… delicious. Upon reaching cell phone range a couple of hours later, logistics were worked out. We anchored at midnight, stowed the ship, and turned to anchor watch. At 0900, two local boats belonging to friends and family were alongside to shuttle hands ashore. By 1000, students were launching canoes used for years by my mother’s Girl Scout troop from my parent’s dock.

There were classes on salt marsh ecology and the Chesapeake’s resources and environmental challenges, some led by Karla Smith, my mom- a retired teacher of 40 years who’s not lost her passion for education. This followed by a muddy romp through the marsh in question and quality time with a fresh water hose. To cap off a beautiful day, other friends and neighbors rolled out the welcome mat with a dinner feast. My father steamed a bushel of crabs, friends brought fresh baked goodies to round out the fried chicken, barbeque, salads, and other fare. Students, crew, friends, family, and neighbors visited and asked questions. At sunset, we loaded the boats and headed for home- our home- WESTWARD.

On Sunday, students went ashore again, and talked to Mr. Robbie Johnson and his son Ben (twin brother of the Pilot who had us hailed), local watermen who crab and oyster on the James River. They toured a soft shell crabbing operation, and had looked over a couple of Chesapeake Bay Deadrise boats- shoal draft fishing vessels specific to the region. Then, back to the ship.

This is a trip I look forward to being able to offer- but one that always hangs on that fine thread of wind, weather, schedule, and curriculum. It wasn’t without its hitches. A couple of medical issues took us to the Urgent Care/ Emergency Room- and a mystery illness sent Sophie Viandier home (to rejoin in Charleston once cured and cleared)- and delayed our departure by a day. Again, though, local support made these events as painless as possible.

So I write this entry as a THANK YOU. Thank you to the teachers for humoring a whim of the captain, to the students for being polite, respectful, and enthusiastic with their hosts. Most of all, THANK YOU Karla and Jimmy Smith (Mom & Dad), for hosting yet another ship’s company at your home. Thank you for your generosity with boats, cars, docks, dogs, equipment, T-shirts, information, and food. THANK YOU to Bill & Betsy Daughtry, Jean Hodges, Cathy Roberts, Robbie, Ben, and Jacob Johnson for the food, crabs, boat runs, and friendship. Finally, thank you to the communities of Crittenden, Eclipse, and Hobson for another warm welcome and for all of your support.

We depart for Charleston via the Carolina Capes with 33 souls on board, an unsettled forecast and high spirits. We look forward to the passage, to Charleston, and to Sophie’s return. Look forward to- in the words of the National Weather Service- “more to follow”.
6 October 2009


>> Thursday, October 15, 2009

An Aloft Experience - By Derric Tankersley

It was right after breakfast and I wasn't doing much on deck. I was actually singing my personal remake of a Soulja Boy song, its called "Just Chillen". Then Mr.Fleming, our first mate, came to me and said "Get a harness." Excited for what I thought was going to be a trip out to the bow sprit to untie the jib. I was very wrong. I was actually about to go aloft to untie the course sail; which is very high up and attached to yard. When I realised what I was about to do a rush of nerves instantly came over me, and before I knew it we were going over safety regulations. My heart started pounding in my chest. Then my body began to shake as I approached the shrouds. I climbed right up the shrouds one step at a time following Ms.Anderson, our third mate; behind me was Mina who continued to talk to me so that I remained calm. Once we got to the top it was time to wrap myself on top of the yard supported by a single wire and strapped into another. There I frantically untied the ties of the course. When I finished with the ties I remained up there while Ms.Anderson fixed some lines further down and I was able to take in the beautiful view. I could see everything. It was absolutly amazing. Finally, as fast as I had gotten up it was time to return down to the deck. Safely making it down I gladly took the first seat I saw available so I could relax myself. That was my first aloft expierience, and I loved every minute of it.


Captain's Log Archive

>> Sunday, October 4, 2009

Greetings from Mystic, CT, as we near the end of our first week as a ship’s company aboard the- fondly dubbed- “Mighty Windship WESTWARD”.  Thirty- four souls on board, plus West- our ship’s dog and Morale Officer.  All hands (and paws) are working hard to master the nuances of life aboard.


As always, for me, one of the biggest challenges is learning so many names.  My crew constantly show me up in this department, as they have a lot more one-on-one time with the students, especially this early on. 


The view from back aft on the Quarterdeck is one of carefully organized bustle and activity. Our new hands are rapidly learning a new language and culture- one that is old and time honored, and will shape the next several weeks of all of our lives.  Floors, ceilings, toilets, walls, the kitchen, outside, inside, stairs- all have different names or the words mean something different than what you’d expect.  There are about 50 lines to learn the names and functions of, and carefully structured “how to’s” for cleaning, dish-washing, climbing ladders, relieving the helm, and where its safe to walk and stand. Even the ship’s heads (toilets) are stick-shift versions instead of automatics. All of this information is important from the first day- and all comes second to the Emergency plans, equipment, and drills. 


And the sailing!  We got to set sail just off the dock in Boston- what we call “four lowers”- both for show and to put all hands in the proper mindset for a sailing voyage.  The next day was a coveted downwind sail under our squares to Gloucester- allowing great opportunities for students to get aloft and really experience traditional sailing.  After a great day ashore in Gloucester, the wind picked up with a passing cold front, and Friday found us bowling along to Provincetown under reefed main, staysl’s, and jib at 8 knots in 5-7 foot seas.  We had a little introduction to Mal-de-Mer, but a spectacular day.


I’m sure students were relieved that Saturday broke calm, forcing us to motor-sail across Cape Cod Bay to the Canal.  As we waited for the tide to go fair, the glassy seas gave us the opportunity to spy on a large sunfish, practice Man Overboard Drills, and then to have a swim call.  And Sunday rounded out our sailing and weather with a rainy, foggy, cold, and blustery motor sail to windward from Buzzard’s Bay to Mystic.  We arrived soggy and cold to the welcoming and familiar faces of the Seaport, and Jackson’s grandparents huddled under an umbrella watching our arrival. 


These hands probably don’t realize it, but they’re the most real exhibit in this museum.  While the students immediately turned to stowing the ship- furling down, squaring yards, setting flags, coiling down lines, rigging gangways and chafe gear, dock lines and fenders, West checked out nearby sticks and passers by.  They hit the dock with a little roll in their step as they turn to these still new tasks like weathered salts.  The next leg of the voyage will be about 400 nautical miles.  So far we’ve made about 150 miles.  I feel we’re all on our way to being prepared for sea.



27 Sept ‘09


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