"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

New Jersey!

>> Friday, April 29, 2011

After a week's worth of sailing, and some fine, and not so fine weather, we were eager to see the jersey shore loom out of the fog. We're anchored just off Atlantic Highlands, in the southern end of NY Harbor. To ensure we made our dates in NYC, we had to skip sailing through the Chesapeake Bay. We'll spend a few days in NJ, then work our way up to Governor's Island to meet up with the students at the Harbor School and to explore New York City.

We're also looking forward to Schooner Olympics over the next few days! All are well...



Velux 5 Ocean Race

>> Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our timing couldn't have been better... Today the first boat of the Velux 5 Ocean Race sailed triumphantly into Charleston Harbor from Montevideo, Uruguay. It is the fourth leg of the single-handed around the world race, and Brad Van Liew, a Charleston local and fellow schooner sailor, won the leg and is also in first place overall.

Not only did he sail into the harbor, but tied up alongside of Harvey Gamage for a half hour as he cleared customs. Needless to say our sailors were awestruck at first amid the press, but soon got to talking with Brad--he even gave the students a package of the dehydrated food he eats during his ocean passages! In exchange we gave Brad some of our supper, a calzone just out of the oven. "The best food I've eaten in a month!" was his reply...



Despite out iBoat track online position, we are in fact in Charleston, SC, currently hard at work in the library researching for our projects. We cleaned the boat this morning, and will be tromping around the city tomorrow, including a visit to the aquarium. We are all thankful for the gifts received in out package mail drop, and are looking forward to catching up with family at parents day on Thursday.

We'll be working on the iBoat track, as well... All are well!



Student Writing: Dolphins Underway

Author: Danielle Woodward

Location: On Route from Fernandina

I’m both excited for Charleston and not excited. I’m glad to be heading north, but this trip is quickly drawing forward and I’m not ready to end. Last night was awesome, though. I was standing near the rail on watch, talking to Wyatt, when first one wave, than another broke alongside us. Both were very strange, for they seemed to crest from beneath the water. I was about to say that they almost looked like fins when I realized something, two somethings in fact, were rolling along under the surface. I’d gotten so used to seeing the stars or moon reflected in the waves that I didn’t believe my eyes at first. But as they came up again, I let out, much to Wyatt’s amusement, the excited squeal of “Dolphins!” I followed them up to the bow where I noticed a silvery patch under the bowsprit. At first, I believed it to be merely a glowing patch of moonlight until it broke the surface. For several minutes I looked down onto two gorgeous Atlantic spotted dolphins as they hitched a ride on our bow waves, weaving back and forth, twisting on their sides, until finally they broke off to continue their own journey. It was incredible.


Cumberland Island

>> Monday, April 11, 2011

While Gamage stays in Fernandina for the week getting some much needed maintenance, our students will be on Cumberland Island working on a service project with the National Park Service. Cumberland, Georgia's largest barrier island, is one of the nation's most beautiful and unsung national Seashores. We'll be working on trail and exhibit maintenance while also studying the island's ecology and history. We'll also have some time to roam around her beaches looking for shells and fossilized shark's teeth and walk her trails hoping to sight feral horses, wild turkeys, pigs and armadillos. We'll board Gamage once again on Friday, and set sail soon after bound for Charleston, SC.


Student Writing: Transit from the Dominican Republic to Florida

>> Sunday, April 10, 2011

Author: Ashley Charles

Location: Transit from Dominican Republic to Florida

“Look, you can see Miami!” came the call from bow watch. I hastily stood up and surveyed the horizon. We had been at sea for eleven days and the thought of seeing land was almost alien. Catching a glimpse of clustered skyscrapers, I held my breath and pinched myself.

This was our longest transit throughout the semester, and everyone was feeling the effects of our “fluidly dynamic environment.” We had been through fierce wind, no wind, a squall that soaked me thoroughly, huge mahis, pilot whales, going backwards, and I still wanted to hang around the tropics for a bit.

Being part of that long pull to America (1500 miles!) gave me strengthened friendships and new knowledge. To offset the cliché I spent my spare time asleep, which benefited me greatly after getting up for watch at 4 am.

By far, the highlight of the transit was the squall. After hearing the rain drone on, I was about to drift off to sleep when a crack of thunder jolted me awake. I grabbed my foully jacket and hurried on deck. The rain was pelting sideways, and it felt like hard little beads punching my skin. The wind was an angry beast, whipping about my ears and face. It was pitch black, but every so often lightning would flash, brightly illuminating the deck.

Looking through my glasses was like trying to see through a dense fog. I shoved them in my pocket and ran to take in the staysail. Since the wind was so fierce, commands were being screamed to the wind repeatedly, in hopes it would catch our ears. We took in every sail and sea stowed them amidst the blinding rain. I was ordered back down below where I stood over the midships grate, drip drying. I could not get the smile off my face. Nothing would keep me away from such and exciting and challenging part of life; sailing.


Student Writing: Santo Domingo

Author: Theo Steinman

Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Standing bow watch I could see no land, but trash began floating by. I knew we were getting close. Haiti burns their trash, and the Dominican Republic (DR) dumps it in the Ocean, and unlike the US, its disposal is no mystery because it’s prevalent to our most basic senses. I’ve found people tend not to address a problem or change their ways until it becomes uncomfortable. The Dominican Republic and Haiti’s problem go unnoticed and ignored by countless Americans because of this tendency.

When I came up on deck Saturday morning at 3:30 am, the air was thick and smelled heavily of sweet fumes. The floating trash grew greater as we approached the Ozama River where the blue Caribbean Sea turned brown with a thick blanket of trash pollution. Soda bottles, diapers, dead fish who couldn’t survive, and waste all baked in the sun. As we worked furling the jibs, setting up the awning and so forth we breathed in filling our lungs with stench. We docked in the river with highways on either side, crossing overhead. After securing the boat, we went into the DR’s largest city, Santo Domingo, and walked down a strip with gift shops harboring Haitian and Dominican art including sculptures of a “no-face” doll, which represents the illusive identity of the country’s people. It was clear from the beauty, expressions and nature of the artwork that Haitians, Dominicans and all who live there value the ocean as an important part of their culture and history. The DR is in fact known for its beautiful beaches yet in Santo Domingo the beaches we saw were covered in trash.

As I threw the tin foil that protected my sandwich away in a trashcan I didn’t know what to make of it, knowing exactly where my trash would end up. I suppose the people of the DR and Haiti feel the same frustration.

Author: Ashley Charles

Location: Dominican Republic

Stepping out onto the streets of Santo Domingo, I felt I had been transported back to one of my favorite places, El Bronx, New York. Cars blasting merengue, shoes tied to power lines, powerful Spanish yelled from street to street. Kids slid up to us, asking for money, while the older ones peddled food and jewelry from rickety carts.

Some of my friends from Gamage felt uncomfortable with people shouting, “Americano” as they sped by, and with the stiff language barrier. I loved the fast paced movement. We tromped through Plaza de Colon, a long walkway flanked with high arches of the past, and gift shops of the present. Armed with B-grade maps, every step we took brought something new. Ruins of an old church, stone museums, proud statues surrounding us we drank from the cup of knowledge and wonder.

An older man stopped my group in the street and handed us a bag of bananas. Incredulous, we thanked him and continued on our way. The hospitality was quite welcome after a day of confused looks and hecklers with fake items. Heading back to Gamage, I took a look at the sprawling city and yearned for my own Santo Domingo.

Author: Milo Stanley

Location: Santo Domingo

One of the most interesting aspects of Santo Domingo is its abundance and variety of street vendors. Some of the most common of these are the shore shiners who can be found all along El Conde, the main walking street in Old Santo Domingo, and into the Plaza de Colon, located at the streets western end. Some are equipped with small set ups and several different kind of shoe polish, but most are ten year olds with a small bucket of polish, a broken handled paint brush, and a dirty rag. The latter type of shoe shiner tends to be rather aggressive and will try to shine anything, even flip flops, without regard to whether you are walking or standing still. A variety of other stands cater to tourists, selling fake machetes, cheap mass-produced art, and other souvenirs. One man I found, however, was selling very well made hand-crafter palm leaf hats for five dollars a piece.

Food vendors are in another class all together. Some still boiled corn, some specialized in fried foods, and many sell hot dogs strait off their wheeled grills. Popular refreshment is shaved ice sold from small carts with an array of flavoring stored in old plaster coca cola bottles.

After surveying all the stands, however, I only ended up spending five dollars. I’ve never been able to resist a nice hat.

Author: Will Burke

Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Sundays are special days all around the world, full of tradition and history. In some countries they are days of worship, in others times reserved to be spent with family. When we arrived in Santo Domingo, we planed out our weekend activities under the assumption that Sunday would be a relatively quiet day. For, on Sundays, El Conde, the city’s bustling street home to countless tourists shops and mouthwatering food stores, is closed. With this major attraction silenced for the day, our group made our way over to the windy coastal road called The Malecon, passing statues, monuments, and other pieces reflecting the country’s history. Upon our arrival, the massive amounts of people in the street were astonishing. It seemed as though half of the city was in attendance. As we squeezed through the crowds of people, our senses were stimulated. Pulsing music shook the group, blasting from rusty parked cars wired with thunderous sound systems, their door open so that all could hear. Street peddlers were everywhere, selling corn on the cob, still steaming out of the pots mounted on questionably adapted bicycles. As we scanned the crowed for a good place to meet later on, we observed the reason for the gathering. Fighter jets screamed overhead and we later found out that it was the 100th anniversary of the creation of the nation’s air force. Everyone was thrilled. Little girls holding hands jumped up and down on the course gravel on the side of the road. Their calloused bare feet unaffected by the loose rocks. By going into town that Sunday, we experienced a lot more than a quiet city and empty streets, depicting ho even on a day normally reserved for rest, the people of the Caribben can always find a reason to celebrate and a reason to smile.

Author: Brent Ward

Location: Santo Domingo

I wake up for the dawn anchor watch on a warm, humid morning in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A private security guard is seated off of our sailing vessel, holding a tarnished, twelve gage shotgun. He glances awkwardly at me and practically whispers, “Que Pasa?” He expects that I do not understand him, and for a second I almost want to ignore him. Curiosity gets the better of me and we engage in friendly conversation for a few minutes. The inevitable question arises when any sort of local is talking to any sort of tourist, “Donde tu vives?” My stomach plummets because of the way I know I will be judged as a United States citizen. I responded meagerly, “Vivo en los Estados Unidos.” The reaction is baffling, as his eyes glaze over and his train of thought visibly disappears. We sit in silence for a few moments until he exclaims, “Quiero vivir en los Estados Unidos y compro una casa grande con muchas chicas!” My mind finally puts two and two together. The light goes off in my head that this twenty-one year old, built Dominican would do anything in the world to switch places with me. However wrong his perception of life in the United States may be, his wants and desires are the same of any person who suffers through poverty and problems. I realized how lucky I am to live in the United States and how blessed I am to be who I am. Weird how someone else’ skewed perception can make me realize that about myself.

Danielle Woodward

Location: Dominican Republic

April 6, 2011

Caribbean history is steeped in sadness, for it is full of death. When Europeans came, they wiped out the native Taino people. In an attempt to escape the cruelty, the Tainos ran to hidden locations, place the Europeans had no knowledge of. While we were in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, we visited on of these secret hideaways called the Tres Ojos, or The Three Eyes. It is made up of numerous limestone sinkholes and cavernous caves with crystal blue lakes. Though utterly beautiful, the Tres Ojos bares the solemn weight of history throughout its recesses.

When I arrived I was stunned by the sheer wonder of the place. We descended down several flights of stones stairs into the darker regions of the caves. Above us, the ceiling was pitted and craggy, just ahead, we discovered one of the incredible pools that carved out the stone. The water was pristine blue, and fish and turtles could be seen moving leisurely through the clear liquid. Above, one or two bats were always fluttering from crevasses to crevasses; sometimes landing neatly upside down and other times making high-pitched squeaks. After admiring the location for several minutes, we moved on.

We took a raft, propelled by the driver pulling on a cable to ease us forward, across another small lake. The other side was a tunnel, leading out to a circular, greenish pond surrounded by rocky cliffs on all sides. Trees overhung the edges and grey moss dripped down to the surface of the water.

We stayed within the cave, the high ceiling provided shade as we took the time to dwell in our own thoughts. I sat myself down on the end of an old tilting dock that lay in the shadowed region of the sun-kissed pond. As the quiet and tranquility wrapped around us I could hear the laughter of the Tainos as they relaxed there before the arrival of the Europeans. The sounds of playful splashing and voices speaking in a lost language seemed to float through the cave. But, I couldn’t help imagining their fear, as the Tres Ojos became a refuge for terrified Tainos. The sorrow never seemed to leave.

Locations like the Tres Ojos really make you think about the natives of the Caribbean and what they went through. It also makes you wonder what the Tainos were like as you wander through this place with so many pasts.

Author: Wyatt Richard

Location: Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is a civilian city with a main tourist avenue where many stores cater towards European and American visitors. Flashy eating establishments and loud pestering street vendors, selling everything from knock-off junk food to cheap jewelry seem to be everywhere. Intermingled with these tourist shops are old Spanish ruins many of which are some of the oldest in the area. There are the ruins of the first fort in the new world and the oldest continually used new world church as well as monuments to men like Christopher Columbus and Bartolome de Las Casas, the first Christian priest in the new world. It is quite amazing tat amid these modern shipping attractions and remnants of colonial rule there is a national park, the Tres Ojos, a maze of caves and translucent underground pools that once formed a hideout for Taino Indians attempting to escape Columbus’ harsh rule. It must have been horrible to sit and wait in these caves while possibly listening to the Spanish colonists killing their people by the dozens, awaiting their own doom. Sainto Domingo is a city with beautiful architecture and monuments to their painful past.


Student Writing: Puerto Rico

Author: Bahia Gordillo

Location: Culebra, Puerto Rico

After a long six-day passage, we finally arrived in Puerto Rico. On one of our shore visits, we went to Culebra, a little island with a few cars and people waking around in the streets. Our group walked to Flamenco Beach, which is one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world. The sand was really white, and felt like sugar. The water was so clear, that even in deep water we could see the bottom. I was having a lot of fun swimming and talking with my friends, but I began to miss my parents and I felt a little homesick. I decided to walk alone to where the food vendors were.

As I was sitting on a bench, playing with a stray black cat, something caught my attention. It was a song, a song I knew, “No hay nada mas dificil que vivir sin ti” by Mana, that my best friend had dedicated to me a few days before I left. Tears started to fill my eyes. My parents listen to a lot of songs by Mana, and it brought back some memories. I stopped playing with the cat and followed the sound. I came to a little shop selling Puerto Rican food. I stood there for a while, enjoying the music. After a couple of minutes, the guy working there asked me if I wanted to buy anything. I must have looked strange to him just standing there quietly.

I told him in Spanish that I just wanted to listen to the music. He smiled and said he also loved Mana, and had met him in person. The man allowed me to choose another song from his iPod to play on the big speakers. For almost an hour, I forgot where I was and what I was doing. It was the best feeling to remember my childhood and moments with my best friend and parents. That man didn’t know how much I appreciated what he did. Not only did he let me play my favorite songs, he gave me a pina colada to complete my wonderful day.


Student Writing: Chacachacare, Trinidad

Author: Sarah Nelson

Location: Chacachacare, Trinidad

The leprosy colony was hidden by the overgrown arms of the tropical trees on an island off Trinidad. As we explored, the floorboards creaked and cobwebs snapped. They were not accustomed to the weight after thirty years of abandonment. We approached the hospital, with the sun flooding through the dirt cracked window, illuminating the Promine bottles and medical papers that scattered the floor. The dusty medical books donned aged corners while their letters frowned. Newspaper clippings of leprosy doused the floor, littering a sense of reality over this once sanctioned village. List of patient’s names were scripted next to their current physical state. Few surnames were legible through puddles of gooey brown liquid. The quietness was overwhelming as the past was seeping in. The eeriness of a place once so lively with disintegrating humans was now a habitat for island pests and curious visitors. This experience showed me how our medical conditions have changed to a point where we do not shun people like outcasts. Tough not beaten nor involved with forced labor, these lepers were treated like slaves in the sense they were outsiders and freaks. As the floorboards creaked and paper read, I learned how eerie some of our history is, and how fascinating it is to explore it.



>> Saturday, April 9, 2011

After a week and a half at sea, we've finally dropped anchor in, as Richard Henry Dana called it, our "fair native land." We saw fair breezes and foul, squalls and calms. Our student crew has grown more s a crew on this passage, I believe, than in the rest of their time on board, and there's still plenty to see and learn!

We'll be blogging more over the next few days: photos, an update from Captain Flansburg, student writing, and updates on our service project on Cumberland Island. All are well aboard...



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