"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

Our Passage to Guanaja

>> Saturday, April 3, 2010

I believe all the sailors onboard the Gamage would unanimously agree, it was time to knock the dirt from our shoes, wash the scent of land from our skin and lay out to sea once again…when its time to go, its time to go.

It took a day or two to get back into the rhythm of the ship, once again grow accustom to our sea legs. Before too long, we fell comfortably back into our voyaging routine.
With the start of the transit the students took on greater responsibility as they transitioned into the Quartermaster phase of their Nav/Sea education. The deckhands have been stood down from watch as the students are now running the deck in their place.
There as been enormous activity during the last twelve days…

Navagation and Seamanship Classes ~ students have been reviewing for their up- coming midterm. They also picked up the sextant for the first time, Lesson # 1:How to Take a Noon Sight. It is wonderful to see them all standing at the rail with a sextant in hand, picture perfect mariners.

During Marine Science the students took a midterm reflecting their studies thus far on plate tectonics, earth structure, atmospheric circulation, ocean currents, waves, tides and water quality. They will now be {literally} diving into the topics surrounding marine ecology, beginning with coral reefs. Our next two ports of call, The Bay Islands of Honduras {Guanaja} and the waters near Placentia, Belize, offer some of the best snorkel sights in the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, in Maritime History the start of the transit was spent discussing Haitian/American politics and Haitian boat building for the immigrant trade. Unfortunately, we did not spot any of these magnificent Haitian vessels as we sailed around the north coast of Haiti. Students are also beginning research for their Maritime History projects. Each individual has chosen a topic of particular interest that they will research and design a presentation around. Some confirmed topics are: The Songs of the Sailors, Iron Clad Warships, The Lobster Industry, Tattoos, and Seafaring Cuisine. During our stay Guanaja the students will be learning about the Garifuna, a people derived from the unique cultural blend of Carib Indians, shipwrecked West Africans and Central Americans. They will also continue their non-Hollywood studies of piracy.

And last, but not least, during Maritime Literature students continued reading the novel The Farming of Bones by Edgwidge Danticat, a story surrounding the experiences of a Haitian woman during the 1937 Massacre that occurred in the Dominican Republic. Class discussions surrounded the symbolism that occurs throughout the novel as well as reflections of their experiences in the DR. These discussions have been insightful and provided significant writing material. Between discussions of the novel, students participated in a variety of writing exercises and have produced a variety of creative, humorous pieces. Students are now studying for their Lit midterm and polishing pieces for their final portfolio. As we sail north their focus will be on Travel Writing, beginning with readings by E.B. White and Joseph Conrad.

In other Gamage news…
Earlier today we introduced a new game to the students that is quite particular to sailors called ‘Chase the Buoy’. The rules are very simple, a life ring and flag is thrown over board and the students have to retrieve it using the schooner, WITH OUT the help of the crew. They may use the crew to help pull on lines, but we cannot answer questions. Of course the crew is close at hand to make sure no one hurts himself or herself, but essentially it is the students’ show. The first time it took them 52 minutes to catch the buoy, the second round… 42 minutes. They learned a lot playing this game… how important communication is, theory isn’t everything, don’t panic, the importance of repeating commands, and so on. Once we leave Guanaja the students will enter the Junior Watch Officer {JWO} phase. This is when things really come together as the students step into a leading role regarding the running of the ship. Typically, this phase begins with nervous and anxious students biting their nails and wringing their sweaty palms, but the progression is amazing! Within a week they stand as confident mate types on the quarterdeck, confidently calling sail evolutions as they organize the watch.

In other Gamage news… we have caught several more fish including Mahi Mahi and Tuna, all have been very tasty. Our fine deckhands, Devin and Jen, have been working on a variety of projects resulting in a very handsome ship. We will be celebrating the birthday of Ms. Judibrown Sample, with a proper “girls night” full of nail painting, movie watching and popcorn eating. And to celebrate Easter the students will receive the best gift of all, a morning to sleep in. This rare change of routine will be followed by snorkeling, lazy beach time, egg painting, a proper Easter meal of lamb chops and then our first night snorkel.
Today is April 2nd; we have been ten days at sea, busy with school and happy with life and looking forward to our next adventure.


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