"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


>> Friday, February 25, 2011

A little over 200 nautical miles in less than two days, and we find ourselves anchored in Admiralty Bay in Bequia. Known for its whaling heritage, Bequia offers us a unique look at Caribbean history, tradition, and its transition to a tourism economy. We'll also visit the Old Hegg Sea Turtle Sanctuary and play some sports with local youth.

We arrived here after calling at Iles des Saintes, south of Guadeloupe. An overseas department of France, we took in some great food and a very different culture than much of the rest of the Eastern Caribbean. We also visited Fort Napoleon, which houses a great museum on maritime military history and the Battle of the Saints in particular, and snorkeled the reefs to the east of town. Baguettes, cheese, crepes, and gelato greeted us in the all too charming town on Terre de Haut--a wonderful piece of Europe in the Caribbean.

Before that we had a fantastic visit in Dominica, hiking to a boiling lake, eating lots of local fruits and delicacies, and celebrating the start of the carnival season.

All are well aboard and looking forward to Trinidad!


More Student Writing

>> Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Roti in Road Town
By Milo Stanley
February 18, 2011
One aspect of Caribbean culture that we have had plenty of opportunities to experience is its food. At Road Town, Tortola, the highest point of our stop was going to the Roti Palace, a tiny colorful shop accessible by a narrow stairway between two buildings. Jean, a wonderful grandmother and cook who moved from Trinidad to Tortola fifty years ago in search of work, runs the Roti Palace.  My curiosity soon earned me the job of rolling out the dough for the roti, which might be best described as curry wrapped in tortilla. I wasted no time in learning and questioning Jean about the process of making them. To make roti Jean’s way (the best way) do as follows. Parboil yellow split peas, so that they’re cooked but not mushy, and then grind them up in a blender with turmeric, cumin, garlic, pepper, and salt. Half a pound of split peas is good for twenty roti. Make dough of flour, water, baking powder, and salt and knead in the ground split peas. Put the dough into half inch patties, coating them in flour, then form them into balls a little smaller than the size of your fist and roll out like you would tortillas. Cook the roti shells by laying them on a hot oiled griddle and spooning on good doses of olive oil. When they’re done, they’ll be puffed up and golden in color. For the filling, use a meat or vegetable curry of your choosing. I can personally attest to the quality of goat roti. Spoon a dollop onto each shell and fold them up into nice, neat packages. Serve the roti with lettuce, tomato slices, brown rice, pigeon beans, and mango chutney. Even with three and a half months to go, I have a feeling that this one will stick in my mind a one of the best meals of the trip.

Salt Spray
By Brent Ward
February 17, 2011
A warm ray of sunshine beats down on my sun burnt face while the waves crash shoulder height on me. The salt sprays off of the waves and into my short hair. This might be much different from what is normal for me but it is still entirely reminiscent of what life has been like in my early years living by the ocean. Three years cannot take this feeling away; a million years could not. This feeling is something indescribable yet it is likened to the chance of pure happiness, with no worries or problems. The ocean is my home, the sand is my home, the waves are my home, and so is the beach. I hear a voice, “Five minutes!” Emerging from the water, drops of water fall off my skin and the sun dries the salt to my skin. The nostalgic feelings bring back my days in California and as my black cotton shirt goes back on, the happy feeling stays. This is what is important, this is what matters. This is true happiness, un-filtered and un-edited by outside sources. This feeling will be chased throughout my entire life.
P.S. Hi Mom.

Travel Epiphany
By Jon Dean
February 18, 2011
Today our group got up nice and early to get into two vans and drive all over the beautiful island of Dominica to experience its culture beyond what most tourists fresh off the cruise ships see. Our driver, Sea Cat, and Gordon were wonderful. They showed us some incredible things, stopping frequently along the way to show us a fruit or flower. The farther we went up into the hills the more rural it became. The roads became narrow and rough, passing cars with just inches in between. Abandoned shacks with scrap metal roofing became a common sight. We went to a fruit farm along the way and picked juicy, delectable grapefruits, bananas, limes, and sugarcane straight off the trees, as opposed to off the shelf at the supermarket like most of us are used to. The owners of the farm were incredibly friendly and grateful that we were buying their produce. I found it beautiful that these people could live so simply, but clearly are living rich lives full of love and happiness. It came as a shock how different life is on the “other side.” In addition to this we also went body surfing at a local beach break, and went swimming below a beautiful natural waterfall. This fresh water immersion was a big deal to most of us, for we haven’t has a fresh water shower in a couple of weeks now. After we returned to town, we walked into the bustling market, teeming with entrepreneurs vocalizing the worthiness of their products. We were given a checklist for the required boat rations we would need and completed it accordingly. After this was done, we were given an hour of free time in town; which I spent getting a fresh mango smoothie. Overall, today was an incredible day, jam-packed with Dominican cultural experiences. Such a day requires a good night of sleep; we have an eight-hour hike to the boiling lakes tomorrow! 

Tastey Treasures
By Sarah Nelson
February 18, 2011
Today, as we tinkered our way along the thin, precipitous roads of Dominica, we discovered treasure. Not those commonly sought after by the infamous pirate known as Black Beard when he was circumventing Dead Man’s Chest, but by those seeking the income of importing. The streets far from the fury of the markets of Roseau are lined with Caribbean delicacies. We devoured succulent prevalent tropical fruit, whose neon talons gripped onto our fists. We were introduced to the predicaments of ripping mango’s meat off their ample seeds, or the bewildering taste of guava fresh from the vine. We consumed grapefruits, picked by student hand from the tree itself, the size of coconuts, and coconuts the size of human heads. We tested the apparent hardships of mating chocolate from beans, transforming the consistency into that of a brownie mix. We scratched cinnamon bark off the tree, which resulted in a taste of spiced wood. The tastes were numerous, and our pallets, as well as our stomachs were well satisfied with each lick, munch, and sniff. It’s fascinating to think that magnificent fruits are everyday encounters for locals, and their juices and common staple.

Travel Writing
By Danielle Woodward
February 19, 2011
Dominica is a beautiful place for those who like isolated Caribbean islands. Roseau is the capital of this charming place, but the city is just like cities all over the world. The streets are narrow, with litter on the sides, the houses are far from perfect and the people can be loud. But there also the people like the produce and trinket stall owners who are friendly and always willing to help.
However, it isn’t the people or the buildings that separate Dominica from other similar places. It’s the boiling lake that makes it unique. The boiling lake was created from a volcanic crater that filled with water. The lava underneath now heats the water and causes the lake to boil. Sulfur is prominent in the air as you sit looking from a rocky landing over a cliff. Almost as amazing as the lake itself is the trail to the lake.
We hiked from 0730 to 1700 going to the lake and back. On the way, we passed through thick rain forests. The air was humid and cool; the tree trunks were huge and carpeted in soft green moss. The sounds of birds calling and insects chirping created soft background music. The trail wound through the growth; logs had been placed to make the ground less treacherous, though they had to opposite effect. The wood was covered in moss and mud, creating slippery footing.
After moving through the forest for two or so hours we began to climb in earnest. Before, the slope had been gentle; now, the “steps” began to get steeper. When we reached the top of the volcano, we came to a flat, open outlook. All around, we could see emerald green peaks rising to kiss the cloudy sky.
Once we’d had a good rest, we began to descend to the valley below. The ground became even more dangerous, for we had a steep slope on one side and loose mud under foot. But, with much slipping, sliding, and falling we made it.
The valley had numerous sulfur vents, so the small streams that ran through it could be very hot. It would have been easy to get hurt, had one of us fallen in. The going didn’t get any easier as we climbed over rocks and into the forest again to head for the lake.
Another two-hour hike and we arrived at the site. We stood on the outcropping gazing down into a swirling pool. Sulfur scented mist rose from below; the water was turbulent, especially in two areas. We took the time to eat lunch before starting the return trip. We hiked fourteen miles in all; it was grueling and hard but the sights and experiences were all worth it in the end.


Mahi Mahi

>> Monday, February 21, 2011

Our first fish of the trip did not disappoint. C watch had the deck, and Sam, noticing the line a-tugging, sang out "Fish on!" and all was suddenly awash in excitement and motion. The gaff was fetched, buckets of water collected, and fillet knives brought out on deck. All eyes strained aft, looking to see what was at the end of the line. Sam pulled, hand over hand, and with a flash of green-blue yelps of delight swam in the air. The brilliant colors of the mahi-mahi (or dolphin fish, dorado) are unlike anything else swimming in the ocean, and few fish taste as good.

Lizzie prepared the fish for supper less than three hours after it was caught. Needless to say, it was fantastic. Nice catch, Sam!


Sailing to St. Eustatius

>> Friday, February 18, 2011


11 February 2011

Anchored at St. Eustatius

Gazing glassy eyed at the rushing waves, I clipped on my harness and heaved over the side. I was en route to Tortola on board the schooner Harvey Gamage. The constant pitching and rolling of our boat shook my insides, and they struggled to get out. Ahead of me, my shipmates were sheeting in the jib. The tremendous noise the luffing of the sail made jolted me out of my stupor, and I was suddenly, frighteningly aware of my surroundings.

I, strengthened by the beating wing, hoisted myself up to help them. I laid on the line, and my pain was forgotten as we, in unison, cried, “Two, six, heave!” and steered our behemoth hostess towards land.


Roseau, Dominica

>> Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sailing south and a little


St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean

>> Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beating to weather is never the most efficient or comfortable way to sail. But to get where you need to go, you sometimes have to roll with the punches. The first major passage proved a challenging one, but our new student crew matched the challenges of seasickness, wet decks, rain squalls, and a constantly moving deck to arrive at St. Eustatius of the Dutch Caribbean.
Once here, we've delved into the rich colonial heritage and explored the island's unique link to American history, hiked into the mouth of the dormant volcano called the "Quill," where we studied the diverse ecosystem of the tropical evergreen rainforest that thrives in the dormant crater, and snorkeled the ruins of Lower Orangested, taken by the rising sea level and countless storms. We've also indulged in cold soda pop and ice cream, which taste even better after a few days at sea.

All aboard are well and looking forward to a much easier passage due south, bound for the French Islands and beyond. We wish all our families following a wonderful Valentine's Day; know that you are all missed and loved!



First Impressions

>> Monday, February 7, 2011

Our students' first writing assignment for literature class:

Ocean Classroom has been amazing though only a few days have passed since our arrival in St. Thomas.  We were taken out to the Harvey Gamage.  There we were greeted by two bottlenose dolphins.  Theirs was probably one of the most heartwarming displays I’ve ever seen.  They hung around the boat swimming right up to the hull at times.  When we moved to another bay close by they followed and remained for most of the night.  They finally moved on in the morning.  Then on the 6th we had another unforgettable experience.  We were anchored off Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands.  We went snorkeling on the reefs near the island and it was more beautiful than I can possibly describe.  Brightly colored fish were everywhere.  The water was perfect and so incredibly clear.  Between the colorful aquatic life and friendly dolphins, I know I wont forget this voyage.

The color of the Caribbean is something that strikes me more than anything else.  Besides the brilliant light blue of the water and the rich green of the hills, there are the colors of the houses.  Cheerful yellow, reds, purples, and blues are something that my eyes, color starved from the drab of the Maine waters, can drink in for hours.

These past four days have been very interesting.  Learning about the boat, about our duties, and about life on board is happening really fast.  The best part so far was taking in the dark the first night we were sailing in what I thought were big swells.  Thankfully I didn’t get seasick.  Time is going by quickly already and I’m having a good time.  I can’t wait for everything else I am going to experience.

There is nowhere else I’d rather be right now.  I’m living days to the fullest; hence it feels like I’ve been here longer than a week.  This is already the greatest experience I’ve had in years.  By 8:00 today we accomplished and learned more than during an entire day at home.  Yesterday in the tropic waters off Tortola, we hiked to the summit of Norman Island.  There I realized I h knew how to conduct boat checks, fill pump logs, tie knots, and names sails; knowledge I drank up in the past few days of sailing.

Ben H:
So far the voyage has been awesome.  My shipmates are great and the crew is amazing.  The educators are fantastic and the captain is a really good guy.  There is a lot of hard work involved but this trip has already been one of a lifetime.  I’m very excited to continue the voyage and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity.

Out first night was humbling.  The boat was rolling and every time I went below I lost all control of my stomach.  I got no sleep but finally I was able to eat some saltines which helped immensely.  Even though I felt horrible and couldn’t sleep it was quite peaceful and soon I got used to the wave motion and simply sat on deck watching the swell roll past the boat.  The sunrise the next morning was unbelievable and staying up all night gave me time to reflect.  Everything out here has a purpose, even seasickness.

Solitude is nowhere on this boat.  In a away it is refreshing.  I enjoy talking to people and learning about them.  I almost learn more about myself from others than it I had solitude.  I am happy.

Ben VA:
The past few days have been tough.  I’m working muscles I normally don’t work, and I’m struggling to figure out what’s going on.  It’s a lot of work, but in the end I think it will be rewarding.  Sailing around the Caribbean can be a once in a lifetime experience.  We have to take good care of the ship.  It is fun being dirty though. 

We did a lot of fun things on the Harvey Gamage.  Yesterday we went snorkeling.  I had never seen that many kind of fish together at the same place.  It was amazing to see the life in the water.  Just after that we went hiking on Norman Island.  At the top of the mountain we had a very great view of the sea and watched a beautiful sunset with a rainbow just beside.

One week ago, I stood sturdy.  Feet moving flawlessly across the ground, my balance unmatched.  Yet when boarding the Harvey Gamage I was put in a peculiar situation having to concentrate at every moment to refrain from ending up on the sole.  As the days passed, my balance increased, allowing me to walk without inhibition.  It wasn’t until we arrived in Road Town and went ashore that I felt that same lack of balance.  This time, however, I was ashore.
The Harvey Gamage is many things.  The ship itself is big, majestic and beautiful.  Sailing through the sea on it is different, very different.  She rolls, rocks, and pitches in the waves.  It is sickening, literally.  While underway-on Gamage seasickness is typical and understandable.

Yesterday we climbed Spy Glass Hill on Norman Island, often thought of as the basis for the novel Treasure Island.  When we reached the peak at sunset, our sunburned faces and hand beginning to callous seemed at rest.  The views of Tortola, Dead Chest Island, and an assortment of Caribbean Islands were perched upon the teal crests of the ocean we now call home.  We had pure silence, certainly juxtaposition from our cozy racks.  Silence was never something I appreciated, and while sitting on those rocks I was overwhelmed by the simple sound of silence.

Coming into port at Tortola, tears welled up in my eyes.  It had been nearly ten years since I had set foot in the Caribbean.  The pastel colored houses and open squared reminded me so much of my home, St. Lucia.  I could not believe I was actually there!  That first step onto the pavement, I will never forget. 

Night watch was demanding, physically and mentally.  Standing up 12-4 sounds difficult until you do it: then it’s grueling.  However, I cannot think of a better feeling then being relieved from watch and resting my head on my pillow.  Within a couple of minutes I was in a deep sleep.

Freshly sun kissed skin, stiff tussled hair, dirt and grime between each wrinkle and crevasses of my skin.  There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.  Standing bow watch with the sun eating down on my back, sweat beads trickle down my forehead until each hour that passes30 or 40 new freckles appear – some in places I didn’t expect.  From my knees to my toes.  My fingers are beginning to blister at the base.  There’s nothing that compares to the smell of the salty ocean.


The BVIs

After a day of orientation to the vessel and the shipboard routine at sea, our new student crew weighed anchor and set sail for the first of countless times over the next 4 months, bound east for the British Virgin Islands. Standing watch throughout the night, both the wonders and pitfalls of a sailing ship at sea greeted our students; shooting stars, squalls, seasickness, and the breaking of dawn illuminating the green islands just a few miles distant.

Once cleared into Road Town, Tortola, our students came ashore to learn about West Indian culture. But we didn't bring any books ashore, only our appetites. We walked the short distance from the quay to the Roti Palace, where Jean, its proprietor, cooked up her world famous roti, a distinctively Caribbean dish with roots in Trinidad and India. A roti "skin," or flatbread, infused with crushed roasted peas and spices, wraps around a curry of goat, chicken, beef, conch or vegetables, with her homemade mango chutney, cuchela (a spicy chutney of the scoth bonnet pepper) and pepper spice hot sauce. Indian cuisine was brought to the Caribbean in the mid 19th century, when Indian laborers were brought to the region to work in the fields after slavery was abolished. Over time they have infused a unique West Indian flavor into traditional Indian dishes, utilizing local ingredients and produce. Our visit with Jean is just the first of many culinary adventures.

A quick sail across the Sir Francis Drake channel brought us to Norman Island, where we explored its reefs and hiked the goat paths along the ridge line as rainbows followed us to the peak of Spyglass Hill.

All aboard are well and well fed thanks to our fantastic cook Lizzie Loomis, and will enjoy some delicious cake as we will celebrate Ben Huyard's 15th Birthday today!



From the Captain: The Portent of Dolphins

>> Friday, February 4, 2011

Well now it all starts again. Harvey Gamage is as ready as we are able to make her. The crew is prepared and excited.
                  Students arrive on another lovely day in "America's Paradise," St Thomas USVI. Just how does a crew get a ship ready for this kind of thing? Well, provisioning starts with Lizzie Loomis (the cook) ordering a huge amount of staple foods from a local restaurant supplier; peanut butter, pasta, vinegar, bacon, flour, 30 Dozen eggs, coffee, chicken, dish soap, cereal, oats, broccoli… imagine you have to put out 3 meals for 30 crew every day! You get the idea.
                  Meanwhile the ship’s crew paints, cleans, studies the curriculum, repairs, tries to purchase all the things the ship may need down island.  The 1st mate (Mr. Burke) and I walk around deck with lists and wonder what we have forgotten and will have to make do without later on. No problem, that is a Schooner sailor’s job.
                  The Educators J. Pettrillo, E. Southworth, and J.Allen, run around the island getting supplies of their own. They refine their curriculum, brief the ship’s crew on the students and on top of their own work they help get the ship ready.
                  I did say, Dolphins. At our anchorage under the lee of Hassle Island there were 2 dolphins swimming around the ship as we up anchor and make our way to the rendezvous with our students—they follow us, which seems a little strange but I like it. Then they stay around the ship, swimming lazy circles and never straying far. The students arrive in groups and singles over hours, yet still there are the dolphins. Now let me say that I have never seen dolphins stay around Lindberg bay for any great length of time.
                  After we get the new crew (students) settled we normally have a first swim call off the ship to get them salty and refresh them after a long day of travel.
                  The Dolphins stay around.
In fact they are within feet of us as we swim and share the bay with them. We get underway and move back to our anchorage, and they go with us. They stay through supper and cleanup and evening introductions slapping the water as if to say “hey we’re still here.”
                  This morning I haven’t seen them but I get the point. There are many sailors legends about dolphins; that they carry the souls of passed sailors, or rescue shipwrecked seamen, or point they way home…
                  You can think what you want. I see them as a very good omen for our voyage.
Fair winds, Captain Flansburg


Embarkation Day!

>> Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Over the next day our students will be trickling into St. Thomas and aboard the Harvey Gamage


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