"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

Mystic Port Stop

>> Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mark Twain once said "If you don't like the weather in New England, wait a few minutes." We've been patiently waiting in Mystic, CT four extra days for our weather window. Strong winds from the South have prevented us from heading towards the Chesapeake. Luckily, Mystic Seaport is bursting with learning opportunities for green sailors. Mystic Seaport provides and unparalleled introduction to American maritime history. We toured America's last wooden whaling vessel, the Charles W. Morgan and studied whaling artifacts such as harpoons, try works, and scrimshaw. Seaport staff took us out rowing in the Mystic River on replicas of the row boats whalers used to hunt, lance, and harpoon the great whales. We visited the replica of the schooner Amistad and learned about the 1839 revolt of the captured Africans aboard the original vessel. Mystic Seaport has a unique collection of historic sailing vessels. The collection allows for the unique opportunity to compare and contrast different vessel types, rigs, and hull shapes. Additionally, we had a rare backroom tour of Mystic Seaport's small boat storage warehouse. We're surrounded by some of the most knowledgeable historians of maritime history. We're singing sea shanties with master shantymen at the seaport, and learning about 19th century sailors first hand from actors.

Mystic Seaport has also been a rich location to study marine sciences. Our science teacher, Haley, has been teaching the students all about the bioluminescent jelly fish in the Mystic River estuary. Williams College biology professor, Jim Carlton, one of the movers and shakers in the fight against the spread of dangerous invasive species, taught a course on the threat of species moving around the globe into new habitats. Professor Carlton has testified multiple times before congress on the issue and is director of the Williams - Mystic Maritime Studies Program. Students also had the opportunity to visit the Mystic Aquarium and see beluga whales first hand right after Haley's cetacean behaviors course.
Even in port, our home, Harvey Gamage, is our first priority. The students have been standing one hour watches at night and are now standing watch without a crew member. Their watch skills have developed tremendously. They have also learned all the names of all the lines on the boat and are ready to demonstrate their knowledge during our next transit. They are taking on much of the responsibilities of maintaining our vessel. Additionally, our stay in Mystic has been a fantastic time to introduce students to navigation. Students have practiced reading charts and plotting courses. They learned how sailors use the stars for navigation at the Mystic Seaport Planetarium. The students are building a strong skill base for our next sail. Having fun in Mystic, but looking forward to our next transit!

Head Educator


First impressions

First Impressions from Day 4 of Ocean Classroom

Cat Kinney:

Our first shower was anchored off of Fisher’s Island. Although it wasn’t the warmest day, we all dove in eagerly, cleaned and dove in again. Surprisingly we all felt a lot better after.

Frankie McCormick:

Ocean is much different than everyone expected. It’s more real than you think. It’s just you and the ship and your actions control whether you’re going to make it to port in time. People are learning the skills of teamwork this week. Although this is still a learning period this first week, it has been extremely fun.

Patrick Allen:

Ocean has been awesome so far! We had our first swim call the other day. The water felt so nice and so did getting clean.

Will Tower:

2, 6, Heave! Was the call as my shipmates and I pulled in unison. I looked up at the line we had to haul. 2 on the line and 6 on the tail. I looked and saw how we had all molded into a living, breathing, “sweating” machine.

Brooks Robbie:

Yeah, waking up at 4 am is fun. But not really. The only fun part about this is when someone comes to wake you up for watch, and you don’t get out you can watch them flip out! Standing watch is fairly boring but it is an experience that is drawing our group together. Losing sleep day by day. Peace!

Hillary Wight:

As the watch schedule is set up, when under way, one watch will inevitably have 12 hours on duty during a 24-hour period. They get the 0000 to 0400 watch, the 1200 to 1600 watch and then the 2000 to 0000 watch. As a member of C watch I got to experience this first hand. Tired doesn’t touch the exhaustion felt at the end of the day. As we lost more sleep, our awake time became almost like a dream. This is the kind of thing that brings a group together. Spending that much time working with one another on the water is like spending months together at school. With each watch we become closer, stronger and more knowledgeable.

Ali Lynch:

Before embarking on Ocean, one of my main concerns was the food. I had heard so many bad things about the food, like that there was no variety and that it was just awful. Our first meal aboard the Harvey Gamage was some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. Since then we have all been looking forward to the next meal and wondering what out Cook Lizzie is going to make next! Throughout this voyage I know that I no longer have to worry about what’s for dinner, lunch or breakfast. I am always reassured Lizzie is cooking up something fantastic.

Hannah More:

The trip so far is tough, but completely amazing. Out of all the things that we have been doing, the one that stands out the most is having night watches. Even though you are tired and sometimes cold, it is one of the most enchanting things I have ever done. Drifting along on the water with the wind on your face is so peaceful and relaxing. More so than I ever thought it would be. You feel like you are in your own world, away from everyone and everything else. You and your shipmates are all there is.

Steph Bonewald:

We have been traveling from Gloucester, Massachusetts and have arrived in Mystic, Connecticut. We have been learning all the lines on deck, different types of knots, how to steer the helm and how to balance homework and boat time. Swimming in West Harbor on Fisher’s Island was amazing! We all are hoping to go again soon for the sake of our hygiene and appearance! All is well!

Anne Raffaelli:

So far my Ocean experience has been more than I expected it would be. I have personally learned the importance of safety and living in tight spaces on a boat. Luckily, not much damage was done (Bonked my head on a bulkhead) and I am still having lots of fun!

Klare Nevins:

While docked in Gloucester we were able to visit the Gloucester Fish Auction building. We got to participate in a mock auction like the real buyers do. It was really interesting to hear the side of the fisherman. From their point of view, there are too many regulations on fishing. Environmentalists are acting in extreme ways. Severely cutting down their fishing stocks. The first night sailing the ship was so crazy! Steering the boat, doing boat checks all of it is overwhelming but it is getting easier every day.

Megan Subsick:

The first week of Ocean Classroom is almost over, and we’ve been thrown into work on the Harvey Gamage. We have learned how to steer the helm, do boat checks and tie many knots. This week while exciting has also been exhausting with adjustments to sleep patterns, homework loads, watches and boat chores. We also arrived in Mystic, Connecticut after departing from Gloucester Wednesday night. In the next few days we will be setting sail again with more adventures ahead of us.

Ned Pressman:

After the first three days of sailing the hardest part has been the night watches. The cold wind, early in the mornings. The only reason I have been able to make it through the nights has been the comic relief supplied by C watch!

Maddie Malenfant:

Aboard the Harvey Gamage we participate in the constant hustle and bustle of everyday schooner life. Everyday, we learn more; get less sleep and heavier winds. Everyday we get closer and closer to fulfilling the role of being sailors.

Janelle Garcelon:

I tend to really enjoy my sleep, so it has been quite a challenge adjusting to the watch schedule. Being awake for four hours in the middle of the night is really hard especially if you haven’t gotten much sleep the night before. Our group is getting along really well and we tend to start laughing hysterically at anything that is even moderately funny. Everyone on our watch has really different laughs and it’s been really fun getting to know the people on my watch better. And besides, laughter is great stimulus to keep you awake at 0000 hour.

Ian O’Conner:

Ocean Classroom is so much fun! It’s a great experience and a great way to find yourself without the influence of the materialistic world and befriend people you would never talk to before. We had the first person throw up from seasickness today but I won’t tell who! I’ve learned so much from being on the boat for 5 days, from knots to learning the language of the sea. All is well!

Olivia Owens:

Not showering for almost a week was starting to get pretty grimy so being allowed to jump off the ship and swim was a nice treat. Even though we are all excited for warm Caribbean waters the Connecticut swimming was a bit colder but just as fun.

Tripp Jagolta:

So far we’ve been learning several new things including knots, sail names and how to steer the helm using a compass or binnacle. Today we had our first swim call. Wednesday we went through safety procedures and put on our bright red survival suits. In Mystic we explored the seaport and toured a 19th century village.

Hannah Webster:

So Tired!! All I want to do is sleep. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun work, I just can’t wait to get into warmer weather.


These days blend together. They are not defined by sleep, sun, moon or spirit. Days are separated merely by my journal. And all of us blend together as well. If one of us bears shame, it is deep and collective between us all. The few moments in which, us students, growing steadily more knowledgeable, find ourselves full of individual pride, feel less genuine and whole than those in which we pride ourselves collectively in our community and connection to the ship. Those moments are brief and few and are spread unevenly throughout our days yet consistently they are enough.

Garrett Pierce:

At the helm I feel free with clear lights of the moon reflecting on the water on the port side. To the starboard side, I see small bright colors that resemble towns and cities along the shore. Dead ahead my watch are constantly learning lines, knots and are standing alert at the bow on watch. We are all learning and will continue to learn things I never believed possible. I love night watch and my experience this far on Ocean Classroom.

Cameron Lucas:

My first bow watch was a very interesting time. There wasn’t much out on the water to spot so I stood at the bow just watching the horizon. It was quiet and I felt at peace sitting, moving with the boat crashing into the waves. I was able to think, not about homework or my next watch or the amount of sleep I was getting, but rather about myself, and life in general. It’s a moment I wouldn’t get in Costa Rica or Mountain Classroom, only in Ocean.


Rocky Intertidal Zone Lab in Gloucester


Rowing Whale Boats in Mystic Seaport, CT


Safety Drills


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