"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


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