"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

Final Blog Entry

>> Monday, November 21, 2011

At the halfway point of the trip, I wrote a story for the student crew. Just a short story, of a group of young people signed aboard a mighty wind-ship bound for adventure and a voyage of discovery. The purpose of the story was to encourage them to look deep within themselves and pull out all they’d learned thus far to prepare themselves for the challenge of the second half of the trip. It warned of complacency, of cockiness, and stressed vigilance.

The story was titled “Training Ship”, and it took a supernatural turn as the crew disappeared during a sudden blinding fog, forcing the students to meet the challenges cast before them without the regular input of the professional crew. There was a supporting cast of guardians that watched over them and prompted them through their challenges. The end accomplishment, however, was their own.

Don’t get me wrong. This is no epic work of literature. Its intent was to grab the students’ attention after several days in port and put their heads back into the voyage, while poking some fun at myself and the rest of the staff in the bargain. But I encountered the rough (only) draft yesterday while cleaning out my cabin, and it made me think.

We are a training ship. It is our purpose, our reason to be. The professional crew that join these voyages dedicate themselves with heart and soul. We tell the students that they are all crew of the Harvey Gamage, and that she’s as much theirs as ours. In the couple of days since their mass departure, this never rings more true.

The ship, even tied to a busy road, is eerily silent. I have to go on a search to find another soul. The smallest details and routines become once again huge when the ship’s company once again numbers less than 10. In the last two days, we’ve cleaned, inventoried, organized, graded, laundered, provisioned, and reflected.

All of the conversations involve a reference to a student, a port, an evolution aboard. We share the anecdotes that made us laugh, and those that made us furious. We discuss our raging successes, and dwell on those places we could have done it better. And the ship echoes with their absence. It will take us a few days to transition back to being out of program.

In the story, the crew disappear, and leave the students to adjust to their new status. Now, it is they who have departed us. It is we who have to adjust to life aboard in this in-between mode. The ship demands our attention. There will be another group boarding in just over a week. But, for now, we are still finishing the last voyage.

To the crew of the Harvey Gamage- Proctor Ocean Classroom 2011- the whole crew… THANK YOU! Thank you for a successful voyage. Thank you for challenging me as a teacher, a captain, and a shipmate to be better. I am proud and honored to be each of the three. Thank you for giving the voyage and the vessel everything you had. Thank you for caring so much that it brought out the sweat, the tears, and (unfortunately) a little blood. Thank you for the jokes, the smiles, the helping hands, the photos and the countless contributions you made to the journey. I know it isn’t over yet for me. May it linger a little longer for you as well. You made worthy the ship of her title “Training Ship”. That she has been, for us all. Fair winds, shipmates, and may you give your next journey the heart you brought to this one.

Captain Caroline Smith


El Gecko

>> Monday, November 14, 2011

Today after our second class, three adventurers Zoli, Denning, and Hunter decided it would be awesome if we took El Gecko out for a quick spin around the cove. The wind was just about right and it was pretty calm. Mr. Bailey said it would be ok, so we got ready and headed out. We stayed close to the Gamage at first, testing the waters and getting a feel for El Gecko. Once a steady gust of wind came, we were raging. We went a little bit out of the cove where the wind was stronger--we were cruzing when we saw Mr. McKenzie, Brooke, and Angela coming towards us in softy (the small boat) quickly. In a frantic moment we were trying to figure out what we could have done wrong. Mr. McKenzie started shouting, “EL GECKO! EL GECKO! GO BACK TO THE SHIP NOW!” We sat confused and scared drifting in the water. The shouting continued and we all had a sinking feeling that we were in trouble. Then Mr. McKenzie started laughing and they told us it was a joke and sped off. It was really funny. After the initial scare, we continued on our way. We felt bit shaken, but glad to not be in trouble. We laughed about it for the rest of our little journey. We cruised around, and El Gecko can cruise! We sailed over and checked out some charter boats and then headed back out to where there was more wind. After an hour of fun sailing around we came back for dinner. Today was a good day.




We have been sailing around to different islands in the BVIs for a few days now and have visited some incredible places. We started in Road Town, Tortola which was a very nice town with lots of touristy gift shops. While we were anchoring, a huge cruise ship came at the same time and filled the town with tourists from the Carnival ship. The people working in the shops kept asking us if we were from the cruise ship. When we told them we were on a schooner and had been sailing for about months they were very impressed.

We left Tortola at about the same time the cruise ship did and I was lucky enough to be aloft while it came barreling passed our small sailing vessel. I saw camera flashes coming form all different parts of the boat. As I was sitting aloft, I began to think about how different this moment is for the people on the cruise and for us. The town was just a short port of call and visit for them, while for us it was a destination. We worked to get here, while everyone on that ship just paid and got a plane. As J-WOs we did everything to get us to Tortola -- the students did all the navigating, sail handing and planning. Back on the Carnival cruise liner, the people on that boat just sit and tan in the sun and wait for the next port of call. However, there is no sitting around and tanning on Gamage. If we are on deck we have to be ready to help manage the ship at any time... “On deck on duty.” This makes us earn everywhere we go to and makes us appreciate it more because of it also makes this trip better then any Caribbean vacation you could go on. That is the difference between a tourist and a traveler I guess (just like we have been studying in lit. class).

--Dan Watts



>> Thursday, November 10, 2011

Well, here we are in Tortola. Looking at this beautiful island it’s tough to realize that we will be gone so soon, yet it feels like we just started.

It’s November 9th and we are anchored at the Road Town Harbor in Tortola. We have been sailing the islands for a while now, and our last stop was St. Eustatius a few days ago. This is our first island stop in the BVI’s and we only have around 3 days of full sailing to go. And it’s hot. The BVI’s are going to be sweet, I’m really stoked for all the snorkeling and island hopping. And the islands are so beautiful too! We are pretty much always in view of islands now and they always have beautiful cliffs and majestic forests. I feel like every time I step on deck a new wonder is on the horizon.

The boat is a bustling place now that everyone is cramming for exams and final projects. There’s an interesting vibe going down on the boat because some people are really stressed out and others are really stoked for going aloft and out on the head rig.

Going aloft! It was absolutely beautiful! Charlie (the engineer) and I went up there and talked and just enjoyed the stunning view. You can just see for miles and miles around. It’s absolutely mind boggling to think that the ocean can just stretch and stretch for what seems forever around you. 360 degrees of pure blue ocean.

This trip is more than I could ask for. Every day brings something new and exciting, or a new obstacle to overcome. This is definitely a life changing experience for me, and I hope it’s the same for everyone on the trip.

It’s odd, this life has become the norm. What seemed hard and rigorous in the beginning now seems like regular daily routine. And in a week that’s all going to change again and life will go back to what it once was. What is so important and vital on the schooner will become insignificant in less than a week.

And here we are. I’m stoked for the days to come, and it will be great to get home.



Eli Clare 2nd Post

The past few days have certainly been a great change of pace for us on the Harvey Gamage. We spent a few days on the beautiful island named St. Eustacias, the very ideal of a tropical paradise in the Caribbean and a perfect get away for those of us who have spent the past couple of weeks dreaming of going ashore. On our first day ashore we were given the opportunity to go snorkeling near the shores around the islands and it was truly the best activity we could have chosen. After sweating away for the past few weeks, a dip in the Caribbean waters was exactly what the doctor ordered. After snorkeling we spent a relaxing few hours on a beach where we were invited to play a game of soccer with some locals.

The day after we returned to shore and we began to hike the islands dormant volcano called the Quill. It is a strange thing to go from sailing a ship to hiking a mountain and I can honestly say that it was quite the adventure. After we staggered our way to the edge of the crater of the Quill we looked down upon a vibrant tropical forest growing throughout the entire interior of crater. Then after our morning hike, most of us decided to have a pleasant lunch at a popular local restaurant called Super Burger. I will recommend to anyone passing through the Island--stop and enjoy a delicious hamburger and milkshake at Super Burger. As my fellow students and I left to explore the town (with a complicated Dutch name), we proceed to buy from any gift shop and small shop in our path until the time came for us to come home to our home, Harvey Gamage.

--Eli Clare



Thinking back to Eagle Pond, it’s hard to believe that we’ve been on the Gamage for 6 weeks now. I find it difficult to remember days all together! Even the passages we’ve been on have merged into one long day. It’s certain moments or emotions that seem to shape my memories of the trip thus far. Looking around the ship at my shipmates, I can’t really digest exactly what we’re doing. We have accomplished so much together! I can’t believe that we’ve sailed without seeing land for 12 days, that we’ve been disconnected from ‘the real world’ for almost an entire term now, unable to talk our friends and families.

When we first stepped on the ship, most of us knew nothing about sailing. Things were so unfamiliar. First we learned our lines, then we got head rig cleared. Next we learned our knots and standing rigging, which got us aloft cleared. From there it got harder and more challenging! We entered the JWO phase (Junior Watch Officer), and are still learning how to juggle the impossible job of managing the ship.

Everyday we become more a part of the crew. When orders are called to, “set the main” we now get the task done with ease. Also, when things need to happen, it’s amazing how quickly and orderly we can all pull together. When we left St. Thomas, we hauled back the anchor, navigated, and pushed our own way out by ourselves (under Cap’s watchful eye of course).

As time continues on after ocean, most of us will forget our lines, how to tie a bowline, and plot a DR. But there are things that we will never forget, like what it felt like to be aboard, how accomplished and hardworking we can be, and what it means to be apart of a crew.~*Devon Reiger Webster I*~

Mom please make sure Hannah brings my laptop home J <3


We’ve started a new segment of our trip that probably means very little to non-Ocean people: J-WO. J-WO stands for Junior Watch Officer and is more than a little scary because it means that, during your watch, the J-WO, who could be you, is in charge of the ship. Even scarier is that, as a whole, the ship is fully in the charge of the students. We are planning everything from the time for deck wash to the long-term sail plan from here until the end of the trip. The ship is entirely in our hands and, personally, some days I wouldn’t mind handing it right back to Captain and the other professional crew. Last night on the graveyard shift, my favorite watch, I was J-WO. We were tracking squalls, buoys, and lighthouses, and trying to determine a course and a time of arrival for refueling in St. Thomas, all in the rain. But this was not the most stressful of watches, as our sails were down so we weren’t looking at sail trim, wind direction, or tacking. So many considerations go into one hour of sailing, and even with a seven-person team and a mate to back you up, J-WO isn’t exactly a calming experience. That said, who would give up the stress of J-WO to be taken off the ocean, out of the Caribbean, and brought back to a regular classroom to learn in a standard way? Even with the added pressures of J-WO, we are some of the luckiest people around because we are sailing today.




Finals are arriving rapidly and I can’t help but remember the unsure girl that began this trip. All I could think was: What am I doing? Why am I here? But, as this trip progressed I learned why I had decided to embark on this journey. A few weeks ago we began embarking on our eleven-day voyage. I was completely unsure and unaware of what I was doing and if I was doing was correct. We had just begun our quartermaster phase, and would now be working closely with our watch officers. This was the next step to becoming a junior watch officer. I did not know if this was going to go over well, but I knew that whatever would happen, I would have to learn to handle it. After those two weeks passed we arrived in Samana, Dominican Republic. The ship was still in tact, we all had all of our appendages and none of us were unhappy to see land. We had made it across the Gulf Stream, down Florida and into a new land. All of us were, excited for our new adventure to continue, but also very nervous. Samana was such a captivating place that I was never really able to take in enough of it. It was also a way for me to get away from all of the commotion of ship life, and having to move unto the next step of junior watch-officer. But this beautiful distraction was only able to last me a couple of days because we soon sailed to our new destination of St. Eustasius. Statia was places were not many groups get to go. The two previous groups were not able to attend Statia, so being able to get there was a big deal for us. This also meant that the junior watch officer phase was beginning. Junior watch-officer is the phase in which, the deckhands are stood down, and it is just you, your watch and mate. A different person every watch, basically takes the job of the watch officer or mate, and you run the ship. While you are on watch you decide course changes, the setting or striking of sails, and look at the big picture of your voyage. When I was told, about this part of our trip I was the most nervous person ever. Thoughts of messing up or failing my watch were racing threw my mind, but I knew it was something I could not get away from. I would be J-WO and that was not going to change. I have now been J-WO twice and yes, it was scary and nerve racking having so much pressure on me. But I had the support of my watch members and people outside of my watch to help you with all of the decisions. The second time I was J-WO was, when sailing into St. Eustatia. It was such an amazing feeling knowing that we had finally made it there after five days of sailing, unfavorable winds if any at all, and a quick stop in St. Thomas. Then after that, it was off again, sailing North this time back towards the BVI’s and San Juan. We are currently in Tortola, and I can safely say that I am very happy in my decision to embark on this journey. Everyone on this boat has made it threw so much and I personally think that we are all mad happy to have come on this trip with each other. Ocean classroom is the second off campus program I have been on, and even though it is incomparable, to the one before it is an experience in its own glory and marvel.



Ship's Medic

>> Friday, November 4, 2011

Hello there, readers of this adventurous blog. I am Angela, a deckhand and the ship’s medical officer. I am going to write with reckless abandon. Here we go.

First of, dear friends and family of the souls on board this vessel, everyone is healthy and safe. However, as we pass into a new environment, our bodies are collectively adjusting to these southern latitudes. As we are exposed to tropic heat and the new microbiology of the area, intestines and sweat glands have shifted into overdrive. Slightly uncomfortable, but nothing a little time, rest, Gatorade and Gold Bond cannot fix.

You can taste the salty humidity of the Caribbean in every corner of the boat, in every crevice of our bodies. It has seeped in and taken over. Our sweaters are stowed in most unreachable parts of our bunks. Even the mention of the word “wool” makes me sweaty and comfortable.

In New England the trees have shaken their final leaves and pumpkins smile and glow, we are in the lush tropics where plants come in waxy, thick and green. The flora dazzles the eye with vivid colors, but the plant life lacks the delicacy found in the seasonal climates up north. You must be strong and covered in protective coating to survive.

And while I have been taking notes on a colorful display of heat rash and “traveller’s trot,” there is another change I have observed here on the Harvey Gamage.

The ship’s company is rising to the challenges of J-WO like a bird of paradise reaches for the white heat of the Caribbean sun. I have taken a step back as students have taken several steps forward. I no longer stand watches with students or make sure the dishes are done on time or ensure that the heads smell bleachy clean after soles and bowls. Instead, the students are self-tending (under the watchful eye of their mate.) They sail the ship and manage their watches. And when they tear the sails, the deckhands get out a palm, needle, and sail twine and fix them. I have made some stellar improvements in my stitching abilities in the last few days. I miss standing night watches and stargazing with my everyone, but watching them take on this challenging part of the trip has been well worth every stitch.

I cannot believe that the same students in Mystic who sat at midships struggling through clumbsy square knots are now running watches, calling sail maneuvers, making squall plans and plotting our course. We gave them 93 tons of schooner, and they carry the weight and responsibility with grace and style. Despite the heat rashes, unpleasant trips to the head, and foreboding mountains of homework ahead, these students are performing brilliantly. Everyone at home should be beaming with pride for your sailors out here on Ocean Classroom. This is one of the most warm, caring, and mature groups of students I have worked with.

Go team, go!
-- Angela


Cook's corner

A few words from Andy the cook.
Dinner was a leg of pork I bought at the Mercado in the DR. Cap mentioned when she saw it that they’re famous for their smoked pork chops in these parts, but my trusty guide Ricardo neglected to mention that when we were in town. Dar. The pork leg was actually delicious, but once I trimmed off the fat there wasn’t as much of it as I expected. Of course the fat was the reason it tasted so good. It can seem strange after our genetically altered defatted Stateside pork to get a piece of meat that still looks and tastes like an animal. It can be a little disquieting, watching a guy in at-shirt and cowboy hat dismember a pig with a machete in a little booth in between the pineapples and a pile of squid the size of dachshunds. I made sure to cook it for four hours, but I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it at all. Maybe Brooke will edit me.
With the pork we had a chayote squash and boiled peeled potatoes and a papaya the size of a football, meltingly tender and delicious. I saved some for mid-rats along with some bread I baked and our gastronomic mainstay, sunflower butter.
Tomorrow we’ll have mangoes and passion fruit and our last two sapotes. Sapotes look like russet potatoes from the outside but when you cut them open they’re the color of pumpkins. There’s a black seed in the middle and the flesh tastes of almond paste, bananas, and coconut and god knows what else. Eating them can be a thrilling experience. We’re getting, as the kids would say, some really “sick” fruit. I just wish it didn’t all get ripe at the same time. In fact one of the reasons we don’t get this stuff back home is it doesn’t last, or travel well. We had some green bananas that had just a whiff of nutmeg aroma. I don’t suppose I’ll ever see them again, unless I come back. When the fruit is gone we’ll be back to our frozen and canned fruits and vegetables till we get to Saint Eustatias.
I can hardly wait to sample their bananas.


Domincan and more

November 3, 2011: My first actual blog entry

For those of you who thought I previously posted a blog entry without my name on it, think again. Apparently, it was never submitted at all. I apologize for misleading some of my current readers over the phone. Back to the point: I’m having a great time! What follows is a brief summary of recent events.
Samaná has proven to be one of my favorite ports so far. After the captain and crew met with our local guides, Martín and Ricardo, along with several “officials” conducting a search of the boat, we settled into the relatively action-packed schedule of anchorages. The only restful moments we have at anchor are our one-hour anchor watches, which involve little activity relative to our four-hour underway watches. Early anchor watches were entertained by a constant thrum of music from the shore. The day after we arrived, we ate breakfast and lunch ashore with some locals, one of whom followed us to the produce market to help us supply provisions for the ship. Apparently, Pedro has spent the better part of his life in New York. His expertise with both English and Spanish proved tremendously helpful at the market. After our time in town, we hiked (or rode horses) to a mountain waterfall, where we enjoyed a brief period of swimming before returning to the base for lunch. The following day featured more swimming, a dinner ashore, a dance featuring traditional music from a local band, and a chance to say goodbye to our friend Pedro.
Our days have been action-packed ever since we left the D.R. on October 30. We have been sailing due east, against the mighty Caribbean trade winds. In addition to this inconvenience, we are taking much more responsibility for the ship as Junior Watch Officers. J-WOs assume all the responsibilities of a mate, from navigation and weather to sail handling and management of daily routines. Some of the J-WO’s stress is relieved through the assistance of a student quartermaster, who oversees minor details while his/her superior concentrates on the big picture. So far, all of us have served as a J-WO at least once and a quartermaster numerous times. Though we have seemingly taken command quite effectively, we are still hundreds of miles from St. Eustatius and running low on fuel. As such, we have been forced to make an unplanned detour to St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands, where we plan to refuel. If winds prove favorable enough to do without the motor, we will sail on to St. Eustatius from there. Most of us are hopeful that we will get there in time for a full day ashore.
Jacob Dombroski


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