"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

Santo Domingo, DR

>> Monday, March 28, 2011

Our apologies for the late update, but we have been very busy here in Santo Domingo, as there is a lot to see and do here in the capital. Upon our arrival we knew we were in for a treat, as the German Navy training vessel Gorch Fock was docked right next to us. After we were tied up to the quay and settled in, we headed over for a quick tour of the 266 foot barque. For perspective, the very top of our main topmast would just reach their lowest yardarm, and I could tell you a good many of us were hoping to get aloft in her. The officer of the day showed us around, from the helm, which can require up to 6 helmsmen and has a footbreak, to the galley and chartroom. Impressive doesn't quite cover it.

Then we were in to experience the capital. We walked the shops of El Conde, visited the Columbus Lighthouse, the National Aquarium, and the caves at the national park known as Los Tres Ojos. We strolled the Malecon along the seashore on a Sunday afternoon, when the entire city comes to stroll and be seen, especially this week when the DR Air Force was celebrating its 100th anniversary with an airshow. And we visited the plethora of historic sights the city has to offer: the oldest European cathedral, fortification, and hospital in the hemisphere (and the oldest paved road!), the city gates where the DR lost and then won its independence, and its many museums. We had a nice crew dinner out tonight, feasting on local cuisine before our long passage back to the USA!

We've all had a fantastic time taking in the Caribbean, but are so excited to sail north closer to home. All aboard are well!



From the Captain: Trinidad bound for Vieques

>> Wednesday, March 23, 2011

 Slow boat to the Spanish Virgin Islands

Ok... Trinidad: a mass of immigrant influences and a vibrant local culture. Best food in the Caribbean? Best carnival celebration? Most trying customs agents? Creepiest former leper Colony Island? Best bird watching?  Yes all this and more!

But you must leave at some point. So after waiting for 4 hours for the customs lady to stamp 2 documents we up anchor and prepared for the  sweet downhill 480 nm run to Puerto Rico and her surrounding islands normally taking about 4 days… um, not so fast there. Maybe the wind is not in your favor. Ok. North east wind? Check. Ok. Light northeast wind? check. Ok light northeast wind and sort of large confused swell from… where, exactly? Ok light northeast wind and sort of large confused swell from… where? and west bound current setting you toward say Jamaica? Check as well.
But even if it takes twice as long I don’t care. We are here to be at sea as well as on land. The students fall beautifully back into the routine and the work of sailing and they haul with a will. As of now they are navigating, one each watch; running out our DR using the time honored “dutchmans log”( a piece of jetsam tossed in at the bow and timed coming down the ships side) for our speed added with our course and time giving us a rough estimate or best guess as to our position.  While the crew works on their Celestial Navigation in preparation for teaching the students to do the same.
Theo now looks at stars and sees the constellations she always talks about in a new light. Milo uses his math to pinpoint our location without electronics.  Bahia learns the shipboard words for kitchen (Galley) floor (sole) rope (halyard ,sheet,gantline, falls etc.). Sam and Will maneuver the ship from “Hove-to” to under way using only his shipmates as the professional crew stand by. 
And by now they are tan. They are stronger. They have a certain keenness to their eyes, a kind of “sparkle.” They start to put it together: Sailing, learning,  growing up.
Fair winds, Captain Flansburg
P.S. Caught 2 Wahoo yesterday. I hope someday you will taste fish that are as good!


Old San Juan

>> Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Old San Juan is one of the oldest cities in the hemisphere, and also one of the most charming. Cobbled streets, local cuisine, and the convenience of the United States all wrapped in one. Our students have been busy trying to soak it all in--the sights, sounds, and food. I think they're trying to eat all the ice cream on the island.

We've visited colonial fortresses, squares, and churches, played on the sprawling greens, and browsed the shops and street food offerings. Today the students are spending the morning giving back to the ship, working on projects from painting to engineering. This afternoon they'll adventure around the city before we set sail for the Dominican Republic.

New photos are up, and many more on the way. All are well!



Student Writing: Shipboard Life

Author: Jon Dean

Location: Trinidad

This is one of the epiphanies I will have while on my journey. Last week, after and exhausting day of carnival, all I wanted to do was sleep. When the captain asked me to find a piece of wood, saw it to the correct width, length and height, find the right nails and glue it to a bookshelf in the salon I wasn’t exactly excited. I became frustrated while rummaging through the lazartte, hoping and expecting praise or a reward when I finished. After cutting the piece and while I was plaining the board down to the correct height, I forgot my frustration, and became more motivated as I started to get into my project. I took pride in what I was crafting and wanted to make it nice rather than just setting it down. Finally, after two hours of work the piece was nailed and glued. Cap came over and said, “Yeah, it’s alright,” when I asked him to critique my work. At this point recognition did not matter to me. I was satisfied with what I had created and was only concerned with that rather than just praise, which is what I was looking for in the beginning.


Student Writing about Bioluminescence Bay in Vieques

>> Monday, March 21, 2011

Author: Ashley Charles

Location: Vieques, Puerto Rico

“Ashley, It’s time to get up.” Crumbling, I sat up and checked my watch. 03:45 am sharp. Perfect, I thought, another jarring blow to my sleep schedule. We had been awakened at such a time to observed bioluminescence in their natural habitat, which meant tromping through a dark trail to get to a small bay. I was less that thrilled about this, and whizzed through the silent waters in Sherman.

After a terrifying walk through the overbrush ( I won’t swear it, but something was in the trees), we came to a clearing. Hushed into a defining quiet, we took in the shadows of trees lining the bay. When given the cue to swim out, we ran, shouting and screaming as the tiny creatures illuminated our path. The water transformed us into magicians, light following every move. I raised my arm out of the water, mesmerized by the pinpricks of light flickering in and out.

We came up, shivering, creatures sparkling in our hair, on our faces, in our hearts. Twilight was just beginning as we ambled back to the beach, full of wonder and laughter.


Student Writing about Carnival in Trinidad

Author: Benjamin Voisine – Adelis

Location: Trinidad

The music, the costumes, the dancing and the food you could possibly eat. These things might have different significance for different people, but each of them will tell you that they mean one thing... party. And that’s what carnival was, a time for people to come together. Trinidad was a fantastic place and was made even more so by my carnival experience. Our first day we went to Kiddie Carnival. I’d never seen anything like it. Thousands of kids were chipping (rhythmic walk/ dance) down the street in incredibly colorful and elaborate costumes. I’m surprised anyone in Trinidad can hear at all; even at Kiddie Carnival, giant speaker trucks drove along the parade route blasting soca music at an earsplitting volume. At some points I was afraid I’d have a heart attack because the bass was rocking my entire body and beating rhythms into my chest. The adult carnival a few days later was like Kiddie Carnival on steroids. Everything was bigger, louder, and probably more elaborate. The music was a blast, but probably my favorite part of the day was in the morning when we order phoulourie from a street vendor. Phoulourie are deep fried balls of dough made from chickpea flour. WE ate them with manor and tamarind sauces. I’d say it was among the top ten best tasting things I’ve had in my life, which is saying something because I’ve had some fantastic food in my life. Overall it was a fantastic cultural experience and I hope to go back.

Author: Ben Hudyard

Location: Trinidad:

Music so loud you can feel the vibrations throughout your entire body. Masqueraders chipping and dancing down the streets in a huge parade, and trucks bouncing up and down the streets in a huge parade, and trucks bouncing up and down with entire steel bands playing wildly in back. Six or seven soca songs blasting loudly down every street, dancers giving you pieces of their bright elaborate costumes and pulling you up to dance. Moka jumbies running around and dancing on tall stilts. Vendors selling delicious local food and cold coconut milk strait from the coconut on every street corner. People dancing, having fun, and going crazy everywhere. Trinidad Carnival 2011.

Author: Will Burke

Location: Trinidad

My sight was blurred with the vibrant colors of mas camps going by, their neon feathers and sparkling makeup attributing to the already high quality of their costumes. The music trucks rolling past hindered my hearing, each one laden with more speakers and more decibels that some people experience in a lifetime. Their workers, lacking earplugs, must have already been deaf. The pounding in my chest was nothing short of rhythmic, causing my body to move in a steady chip. And with each step came a breath of warm, equatorial air. The smells came from all directions, staggering themselves in waves so that my curiosity and longing for food would remain somewhat checked. There were scents of pholourie, roti and doubles. There were even venders pedaling around ice cream and snow cones. Needless to say, there was something to be smelt for everyone in Port of Spain. As all this was going on around me, speaking would have been rendered useless and inaudible by the thunderous trucks spaced only one hundred yards apart blasting “walk, walk, walk, walk, walk”. The day spent at Carnival was momentous. I had never seen a group of people so inspire and enlightened by a cultural celebration. Everyone seemed to be in full, teeth revealing smiles that permeated to everyone around them. Throughout the whole event, I saw no looters steeling items, no suspicious figures lurking in alleyway, and everyone let go of their worries and had a good time. This is what the world needs more of: Happy people, good food, thunderous music and an understanding that when people are happy the world is a better place, a realization previously obscured to my eyes.


Student Writing about Caroni Swamp in Trinidad

Author: Danielle Woodward

Location: Trinidad

When you say "swamp," most people think of knee deep mud and slime with creepy-crawlies oozing to and fro. But the Caroni Swamp in Trinidad is a far cry from that image. It is a maze of canals filled wit murky, brackish water and surrounded by tangled mangroves. The first few canals are man-made, but as you venture further in, they become natural. We explored deep into this amazing place by boat, and got to look at some gorgeous creatures you don't normally associate with swamps.
When we arrived, we found a haphazard mess of broad, flat-bottomed boats corded around the dock. At first glance, the vessels didn't look very sturdy and it seemed doubtful that they were very safe. Nevertheless, we piled into one along with quite a few other visitors. The boat was steady as could be. When we were loaded, the motor fired up to a dull roar, and we began to weave our way toward the heart of the swamp
On either side of the canal, red and black mangroves created a chaotic mass of roots. The red mangroves have prop roots and drop roots. The former arc smoothly into the water, looking like the support for the trunk. The latter fall straight, like vines, into the dark water. On both, tree crabs--angular little critters with protruding eyes and splashes of red--scuttled up and away from the sound of our engine. The black mangroves have pneumatophores, roots that rise directly upwards several inches into the air. The more we pushed on, the more red mangroves we saw. Soon, we were surrounded by a red mangrove forest. All around, and far into the shadows, the trunks could be seen with their webs of prop roots going in every direction.
We saw several brown tree boas during the journey to the heart of the Caroni Swamp. With their beautiful angular constrictor heads, graceful coils, and speckled brown and white bodies curled into forks of the mangrove branches, they presented an absolutely beautiful sight.
After an hour of traversing the natural canals, we emerged into a gorgeous lagoon. It was the largest we'd come to so far with room for several mangrove islands in the water. Innumerable birds were flocking towards the biggest of these thickets.
According to our guide, this was the roost for hundreds of scarlet ibis and egrets. The egrets were the common, long-legged, white wading birds so often seen hunting fish on the banks of water bodies. The rare scarlet ibis were blazing red wading birds with long, thin bills tilted slightly downwards. As we watched, scores of these ruby colored birds flew in, each a separate, gleaming gem against the now setting sun. In the distance, we could see mountains outlined in orange as that ball of fire slid down toward the horizon.
We sat there for half an hour at least, watching the ibis stream in. Some came alone, others in groups. The adults were breath-takingly beautiful as they soared home. As they neared their perches, they would suddenly dip and spin in the air, looking as though they had lost all control of their flight. But, at the last second, they'd suddenly pull up, with incredible agility, to alight on the branch of their choice.
On of the other tour boats started up suddenly and all of the birds exploded out of the mangroves in a stunning scarlet tide The separate masses flew in opposite directions around the island, converging in the middle before coming back to their roosts. It was a truly awe-inspiring sight.
We soon had to head back, for the sun was rapidly disappearing behind the mountains. But that place, with its dark, mysterious waters, brilliant scarlet ibis, and majestically distant mountains, has imprinted itself forever in my memory.


A bit more on Asa Wright...

It seems ages ago we left Trinidad, but before we move on in our blog, here's a bit more about our visit to the Asa Wright Nature Centre:
The Centre is located in the Arima valley high in the mountains of Trinidad. It was once a cocoa, coffee, and citrus plantation, owned and operated by a couple from 1936 until after the Second World War, when they abandoned it to return to the United States. Newcombe and Asa Wright bought the land, ran the plantation, and hosted scientists who came from all over the world to observe and study the Oilbird population that resides in a cave on the grounds. Oilbirds are the only nocturnal, fruit-eating bird on the planet, flying as far as 75 miles under the cover of night to forage the surrounding forests. They are so named because the young birds grow to be 50% heavier than adults, and were captured and rendered down for their oil by indigenous people and early settlers. The only known easily accessible colony is located at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. These rare birds, as well as the vast array of wildlife in the Arima Valley, inspired a group of Trinidadians and foreigners alike to come together to form the Asa Wright Nature Centre in 1967. Their efforts have preserved this diverse ecosystem, and the Centre has been a prime spot for ecotourists, with a beautiful hotel and a unique opportunity to study and appreciate the beauty of Trinidad's tropical rainforest.
The car ride into the mountains was long, grueling, and even nauseating for a couple of the crew and educators. For the students, it was an opportunity for a snooze. They were all fast asleep instantly, it seemed. A sun shower welcomed us to the Centre, and we were led indoors through a beautiful parlor and out to a veranda overlooking the grounds. We immediately took notice of how many different birds inhabited the lush forest. The colors and patterns flitting and flashing before our eyes were breathtaking. For the first half hour or so, we could do little more than sit in awe while we picnicked on the veranda.
After lunch, the students spent a solid hour observing, sketching, and learning about the birds of Trinidad and Tobago. A few examples of their hard work are proudly presented here (From top to bottom, work by: Sarah Nelson; Wyatt Richard; Cree Lehrman; Ben Voisine-Addis; Milo Stanley; Ashley Charles).


Birds of Trinidad and Tobago

>> Saturday, March 19, 2011

Milo Stanley

March 15, 2011

Birds of Trinidad and Tobago

Though the highlight of our story in Trinidad was going to Carnival, we also had the opportunity to do some bird watching before hand.

On the Sunday before Carnival, we filled our backpacks with birding glasses, field journals, and the essential Harvey Gamage pack lunch, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We crammed in two vans to start our trip up into the mountains of Trinidad. The poor, winding roads gave the van a motion almost as sickening as that of the Gamage pounding to weather in a force four breeze, but despite it, I managed to sleep through most of the interesting scenery. The Asa Wright Bird Sanctuary, located on the site of old plantations, is an eco-tourism resort with many trails leading through a lush and diverse rainforest unfortunately accessible to hotel guests only.
The balcony overlooking the rainforest was open to the public, however, and we spread out onto it, lining the rail like a crowd of seasick sailors. The birds were amazing. They were everywhere, flying over the forest, hiding in the bushes, hopping around two fat lizards sunning themselves on the veranda below, dining at the feeders mounted by hotel staff (lucky birds) below, and posing for the giant-lensed cameras toted by hotel guests. There were tiny humming birds hovering among the flowers, giant black birds with yellow tail feathers flying over the tree tops, and brilliant green honey creepers diving in front of the balcony in bright flashes of blue green. The whole view near and far was covered with specks of color. The whole thing, birdsong, color, the smell of the fresh rain, was incredibly grand, and something I felt lucky to experience.


Student Writing from Trinidad and Carnival

>> Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Author: Theo

March 6, 2011

Trinidad and Tobago light up night watch at our anchorage in Port of Spain. Hundreds of potential bearings splatter like paint in the face of the island that’s still thumping with music at 4:00 am. It’s calypso season and the Trinidadians are getting ready for Carnival, their Carnival. Carnival is happening all over the Caribbean, with celebrations that take first priority before lent. On watch, I listen from a distance, having read stories and spoken in class about what this celebration means to the people.

I wake up a few hours later, it’s Saturday, March 5, and while I’m going about morning chores, flags, and breakfast, thousands of kids are painting their face, throwing glitter over their bodies, and gathering in their groups to put on the costumes they’ve worked on all year, in preparation for the Kiddie Carnival costumes competition. This day, it will take over the island.

By 9am, the streets are flooded. Flatbed trucks roar the soca hit, “Everyting, Everyting, Everyting, Everyting, Trin-i-dad and To-be-go,” from giant speakers. Surrounding the trucks are a never ending stretch of kids chipping and winding their waists in a huge elaborate masquerade consisting of pirates, sailors, mermaids, princesses, geishas, skirts made of hoola hoops, and masks made of sequins. In awe, mesmerized and inspired by the beauty of the costumes and the energy of the people that pulse as one.

I slowly shuffle down the street, bumping against dancers all around me, and finally step into a small place selling roti. While eating my deliciously spiced potatoes, peppers, squash, and mangos wrapped in a warm flowers dough wrap, I witness my favorite part of the day. A band of costumed kids, some who must have been only six, dance by on stilts that towered over the tops of street vendors. This must take incredible balance and fitness. The kids show no hesitation and expectation of stunning people, they just rampage and singing lines and freestyling to the beat of Carnival.


Student Writing from Bequia

Author: Danielle Woodward

March 6, 2011


Sea turtles are beautiful animals. The swim so very gracefully through the oceans; they travel for years and are able to return to the beach of their birth. Unfortunately, these amazing reptiles are declining due to hunting. However, one man in the Caribbean has taken the initiative to try and save these unique creatures.

At first glance, Brother King is just an ordinary man. He has a medium height and build with a short grey beard and hair. He lives on the island of Bequia where sea turtles continue to be hunted. He, however, doesn’t kill them; he saves them. Brother King owns and runs the Old Hegg Sea Turtle Sanctuary. Here he raises hawksbill and green sea turtles from tiny babies until they’re big enough and strong enough to survive on their own. When hatching season comes about, he goes our onto the beach to collect all the young that he can. From there, they live at his compound until he thinks they’re ready for the wild. With hawksbill he cares for them for five years. Green sea turtles stay a year longer.

I can honestly say that Brother King is unlike any other human I’ve ever met. That he cared for these animals was wonderfully clear. He said that he had been prepared since the age of six to save sea turtles. At that time, he saw grown men cracking open sea turtle eggs and eating the insides raw. He decided to try it as well. He cracked and egg, swallowed it, and promptly began vomiting. It was then, he said, that he knew he wouldn’t always hunt sea turtles. As he grew older, and took his part in catching sea turtles, he decided to stop hunting and start helping.

Brother King is a great man and the Old Hegg Sea Turtle Sanctuary is a wonderful place. It’s almost ironic that a country that so freely kills sea turtles should have produced a man so intent on saving them. Whether the island and the animals realize it or not, they’re very lucky to have him.

Author: Milo Stanley

Date: March 6, 2011

Throughout our travels in the Caribbean, we have had the opportunity to experience much of the tradition, eating traditional food, attending traditional festivals, and witnessing traditional culture in general.

While we were in Bequia, one of the main points of our visit was to see the traditional whaling boats and learn more about Bequian whaling. Bequian whaling is a descendent of Yankee whaling. The main difference being the New Englanders operated from mother ships while the Bequians operated off the beach with lookouts on hills to watch for whales. The whaleboats themselves, longer, double ended, open boats, have been changed very little from their American ancestors and can be fitted with racing rigs for the very popular annual Easter Regatta held in Bequia.

Upon the sighting of a whale, the whaling crew will set off in its direction under sail or oar, the harpooner ready on the bow, a long tether leading aft from his harpoon to the loggerhead (a sturdy, round post in the back of the boat). The objective of the whalers is to sneak close enough to the whale to harpoon it with a special harpoon head that breaks off inside the whale and holds fast. After being pulled around, they will attempted to kill it by repeatedly stabbing it with a wooding killing lance, in an attempt to find the heart or lungs, or shooting it with a bomb gun, an unpleasant instrument whose workings I won’t go into. When the whales starts spouting blood, the whalers back off while the whale goes into its death throws. When it is finally dead, a motor vessel is called for to tow the whale back to a cutting station, where it is cut up, and its various products are divided amongst the whalers, and those who show up to help with the butchering.

Though bloody and dangerous, Bequian whaling is an honored tradition, and a source of pride for the country. The killing of a whale is a national holiday and Bequian schools are let out and business shut down for the event. Whales around Bequia are rare, but the whaling traditions are active and well.

Author: Cree Lehman

Location of Piece: Bequia

She steps onto the dock soaked with salt spray. They sky is stormy today and it has been raining on and off all morning. Even though it has been a rough morning, she cannot help but smile once on land. Being ashore always brings that same feeling, a feeling of comfort and happiness. Today is different though, even with a smalls miles on her lips, she still feels down and sad. The lump is still in her throat, the one she gets just before crying. This day has not started out the way she would have liked, happy and upbeat.

The group she is a part of gathers, talking about what the day’s events will be. Her mind wanders as she looks around the small town they have comes to. Everyone disperses and climbs into two open air taxis. Se scrambles to get into the taxi that is pumping Bob Marley. Music that has been recorded is now a luxury since she never hears it on the boat. By this time it is pouring rain. She ducks her head while keeping the tears at bay. The weather seems to be in tune with her emotions. With a jolt the taxi driver peels onto the main road taking her and all the rest away from this port of the island. She watches this foreign world with curious eyes. Eventually they stop to see the authentic whaling boats. Not much about whaling interests her, so she half listens while watching the waves crash on the beach. What a beautiful beach it is, especially when the rain is falling. Down to that beach they walked. They sand is soft beneath her toes and the water warm as it laps against her ankles. When permission is given to swim, the rain is coming down harder than ever. She sits under a porch at first. Then, all at once, strips down to her swimsuit and sprints to the water, diving head first into the green water and algae. Bliss. The ocean feels warm, encasing her body as the cool sting of rain hits her face. It isn’t so bad, swimming in the ocean while it rains, on an island far away in the Caribbean.


Student Writing From Dominica

Author: Bahia Gordillo

March 6, 2011

Location of Piece: Dominica

I think Dominica is the place that I have enjoyed the most since the beginning of this trip. We spent just a few days here, but I feel like I already know everything. The streets are nice, you see everyone walking in the middle and you feel secure. You always hear reggae music as background and loud voices, singing, talking or laughing. The food was very good. They had amazing bread and delicious fresh fruit smoothies. We ate a lot of tropical fruit. We had guava, grapefruit, plantain, and a lot more with unique names. They also have amazing vegetation. The trees were so big and birds were everywhere. We went to the boiling lake. I had never seen something like that. It was actually boiling and we even cooked eggs in it. We also had the chance to go swimming a couple of times. The first time was in warm natural water and then in cold running water. It’s funny to think that all those different temperatures of water are in the same place. Dominicans are really friendly people. Sea Cat, our guide, was proud of his country and kept telling us the good things so that we would come back again. In our last day there Carnival started. It was a big party in the street with people dancing everywhere. We could see young people and old once all together in a big celebration. Dominica is a very interesting country. I’m sure there is a lot more to learn about Dominica and I’m definitely coming back some day.

Author: Ben H

March 6, 2011

Location of Piece: Dominica

Dominica was sweet. We spent some time in Roseau, the capital city. We also visited the Carib territory, the land in which the native Caribbeans first and still do inhabit. Following that we had the opportunity to climb one of the nine volcanoes making up Dominica.

Roseau is a cool town. There’s a local market where people sell their produce. We brought an assortment of different foods that Lizzie needed for cooking. There were also bakeries that had delicious baked goods, and some local vendors set up along the side roads.

After a day in Roseau, we took a couple of vans up and through Carib territory. Our driver, who was known as Sea Cat, drove us up through the rainforest, stopping all along the way for us to pick up exotic fresh fruits. I couldn’t tell you half the names, but they were delicious! Sea Cat took us to a grapefruit and sugar cane plantation. We brought back a couple of sacks of grapefruit and completely restocked the ship. We also ate some sugar cane which was surprisingly good with limes. After we finished there, we continued on towards Carib territory. We made a couple more fruit stops, then a stop at a cocoa farm, where we grinded some beans, mixed the grinds with milk, and made fantastic chocolate. Finally we arrived in Carib territory, which was very neat. We tried some bread made by a couple of local men. They first took a cassava root and carved the bark off the side. They then grinded the inside of the root into Cassava flour with a grated wheel spun by a wooden paddle pulling down on a rope connected to a stick, spinning the wheel. After that, they would make patties out of the flour and cook them on a piece of cast iron resting over a wood fire, finally ending up with a very good piece of warm, soft cassava bread. I had the chance to have a conversation with a local Carib who explained to me his culture and history. He explained that his people were there before Columbus, and that Columbus had no right in claiming their land and killing their people. “Caribs were here first man,” he repeated in his Caribbean accent, “Caribs were here first. I really enjoyed hearing his local view of their history and culture.

Following that great day was another, hiking up a volcano through the rain forest. Sea Cat actually took us on that hike, showing and teaching us about tropical plants and trees. The volcano is dormant but not extinct, so there were all sorts of thermal activity. Sea Cat even had boiled some eggs for us in a boiling river. After about seven or eight mile hike, we reached the boiling lake, a huge lake bubbling and steaming. Standing on top of a fifty-foot cliff, looking down at the lake, you could feel the hot steam fly past you as the wind shifted. We hung out at the top for a while and had some fantastic local salt fish, plantains, and passion fruit juice. After lunch we began our treck back down the volcano. About a quarter of the way down, we stopped and soaked in a hot spring river, which was very relaxing. We then continued down, getting to the bottom a few hours later. Exhausted, hot and sweaty, we jumped into a deep cold, fresh water stream running through a deep rock gorge. This was very refreshing and much needed after a hike like that! Hiking a volcano was a great experience, our entire time in Dominica was fantastic, its definitely been my favorite stop so far, but I’m sure that will change as we explore new places.


Shipboard Life--Student Writing

>> Monday, March 7, 2011

Author: Emily Wallace
March 6, 2011

If you were to ask your average passer by what the role of movement plays in their day to day life, definitions would vary immensely.  Not a single one of those definitions would compare to that of a sailor.

I have always thought of life as a sort of lyrical dance, or movement.  I, my feelings, people, places, and things move.  After signing aboard the Harvey Gamage, my personal perception and definition of movement was stretched, skewed.  Executed through every emotion the human condition could allow or possibly conjure.

Each morning underway, I arise, or on some occasions (quite more often than not) I am propelled out of my rack.  My eyes open to find all of my belongings adrift.  Books flung from places unknown and I could swear I had stowed them adequately.  Getting dressed is a process land people take for granted, a process I once took for granted.  With each roll from starboard (right) to port (left) an arm and a leg make their way through a sleeve of a pant leg.  To another this process of getting dressed could seem as though I’ve never dressed before.  In some cases as if I were doing some sort of jig.  On a ship each movement is magnified.  Steps are added to the most simple of tasks.  A sailor’s movement requires a finesse that only develops with each passage.
Once dressed, I make my way up the ladder swiftly.  Still awakening from a dream state I stumble with each step eyes squinted attempting to find an object to ground me.  As if just preparing for the journey from bunk to deck didn’t ignite enough frustrations, simple tasks such as eating becomes a competitions between you and your food.  The contents of my mug meets my lips before they’ve even had a chance to separate.  Each motion of the fork to plate, back to my mouth leaves a potential for disaster.
Now one month in, my sea legs growing strong, I have begun to move with the sea.  I have begun to move through life in a fashion only known to those aboard a ship at sea.  Life in motion unyielding to your wants, perhaps needs opens your eyes, forcing you to realize each movement matters regardless of how minuscule it may be. 

Author:  Sam Moskowitz
March 6, 2011
Title: A Day in the Life of a Student
The typical day at anchor for a student starts with a wake up at 0700.  At about 0715 all students will “muster” midships (gather at the half way point between the bow and stern).  The head educator, Johnny, will lay out the plans for the day.  Then Captain Flansburg will give announcements.  After his morning talk, the watches will start their chores; deck wash, brass, and soles and bowls (which watch does what will depend on our watch rotation).  We usually finish with our chores by between 0745 and 0750.  At 0800, 8 bells are rung signaling the flags to go up after flags.  After flags, the three bells are rung to signal the on coming watch to eat breakfast.  After the first watch gets through the line, the other two watches can eat and then, last but not least, the crew goes through.  Depending on what we are doing that day, the educators will make up a packing list.  After everybody is packed and the small boats are launched, boat runs will start.  Often times, we will buy lunch on our outing.  But if we are scheduled to be at a place when where we will not be able to buy a lunch for ourselves, we will make ourselves a PB & J to go.  We usually get back to the boat around 1700 (5:00 pm).  Just enough time to discuss the day’s events and set up for dinner.  After dinner, we might have a class or a study hall until lights out, which is at 22:00.  At this time anchor watches commence until 0700 the next morning.  Then the cycle starts again.



Carnival is a fantastic time to be in Trinidad. Everyone, locals and tourists alike, are awash in excitement and anticipation for the next event of a busy and colorful season. Once arriving at our anchorage, we sampled Carnival at the Kid's Carnival parade on Saturday, and spent time in Port of Spain shopping, eating doubles and roti, and exploring a city on the verge of its biggest day of the year.

Soca, or soul calypso, provides the soundtrack of the Carnival season, and blares from the flatbed of 18-wheeled trucks loaded with speakers so powerful you feel the soundwaves reverberate through your chest. The songs are frenetic, addicting like good pop music always is, and very uniquely Trinidadian.

Before we head into Carnival proper on Tuesday, we'll have already explored much of the island, from urban Port of Spain to the switchbacks of the mountains and down to the coastline. At the Asa Wright bird sanctuary we familiarized ourselves with the crested oropendola, green and red-legged honey creepers, and white-necked Jacobin hummingbirds, and sampled bake and shark sandwiches at the popular Maracas Bay beach. This afternoon we'll charge through the mangrove swamp to watch the magnificent scarlet ibis, which once provided much of the color in Carnival costumes, roost for the night after feeding all day in neighboring Venezuela.

All are well aboard and look forward to Carnival and our longest passage of the trip yet, bound for the Greater Antilles.




>> Friday, March 4, 2011

On March 3, 2011 we transited from the mainland of Trinidad to the island of Chacachacare. The island is uninhabited but for two intrepid lighthouse keepers and the ghosts of the leper colony abandoned in 1984. We spent the afternoon exploring the ruins of the colony by ruffling through old supplies and exploring rustic building reclaimed by nature. After our expedition (recorded in photos below) we jumped in the water for a sparkling night swim in the bioluminescence of the bay.

Below: The crew exploring Chacachacare, the abandoned leper colony.

Below: Sam exploring at Chacachacare.

Below: Ashley and Will explore abandoned medical records.

Below: Jon, Ben, and Wyatt exploring the old hospital at Chacachacare.

Below: The Harvey Gamage anchored at Chacachacare

Below: Theo and Bahia exploring ruins.


Coconuts in Port Elizabeth, Bequia

Location: Port Elizabeth, Bequia

February 26, 2011

Author: Ashley Charles

As I made my way through the soft sand, I glanced up at the sky, gray and morose. It had been raining all day, but our group decided to stick it out. We have a saying back at my school, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Silently cursing myself for not bringing a rain jacket, I did not doubt it was true. To escape the downpour, we took refuge under an awning. Before I ducked under, I grabbed two small coconuts from the ground.

I began to juggle them, partly because I was bored, and partly because the rain wasn’t letting up. Captain Flansburg ambled over to view my lone spectacle, and politely asked for the coconuts. To my amazement, he juggled them with one hand, and then found a small nut so he could throw three. When he began to tell me how to do it, I started to laugh. Look at me, I thought, juggling coconuts on an island I can’t properly pronounce!

He handed me the coconuts and said to throw them a million times. Well, only 999,987 tries to go.


Into the Dragon's Mouth

>> Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our passage to Trinidad was fast and furious. The trades were compliant, and we sailed at good speed throughout the night toward our southern terminus. Sailing across the northern equatorial current and through the several small islands into Trinidad is one of the more spectacular harbor entrances we'll see, and the passage's name, the "Dragon's Mouth," is fitting. The change in water color, turned silty and green from the millions of gallons of outflow from the Orinoco River, announces our arrival.

Trinidad offers us so much to see and learn, especially in this Carnival season. We plan to visit Chacachacare, where the ruins of an old hospital create a spooky backdrop to the island's natural beauty, as well as the Asa Wright Bird Sanctuary and nature preserve, the Caroni Swamp to see scarlet ibis roost at dusk, and to play some football (soccer) and learn cricket on the popular beaches of Maracas Bay.

Trinidad's rich history, culture, and natural beauty are a fitting as a southernmost port stop. From here on in, we'll be bound north.

Stay tuned for more details and photos from our visit in Trinidad.


Total Pageviews

  © Free Blogger Templates Skyblue by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP