"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

Good Vibes & Vitamin D

>> Wednesday, September 26, 2012

“There is nothing I can say that will prepare you for Ocean Classroom,” we were told by the ever enthusiastic Dave Pilla, over six months ago. At the time, none of us could grasp the truth of his words, for this promised adventure seemed but a faraway dream.
Seven days ago, twenty-two eager faces boarded the Harvey Gamage. Our hearts fluttered with nervous anticipation as we peered up through the rigging at the green and white Ocean Classroom flag waving in the bone chilling salty sea air. A wave of shocking reality hit us; we were at last standing on the rocking vessel that we would call home for the next two and a half months of our lives.
Due to foul weather, we were prevented from setting sail that afternoon and we remained docked in Gloucester, Massachusetts for the remainder of Tuesday evening. We kept our positive attitudes throughout our night watches, dreary and wet though it was, and the general buzz aboard the ship was of our excitement to finally get going.
Wednesday morning, we filed our of our bunks below deck and were welcomed by a cloudless azure sky. By noon, we were preparing to depart and get underway to Mystic, Connecticut. The sun shined brilliantly throughout the afternoon, reflecting off the water and creating an endless blanket of sparkling facets of light. Despite generous applications of sunscreen, our cheeks and noses soon became varying shades of pink and red.
Still, spirits were high and we went about hauling on lines and standing at the helm or lookout with enthusiasm. We retired to our bunks at 2200 and immediately drifted off to peaceful slumber. The rocking of the boat kept us comfortable throughout the night.
My watch was woken up at 4:00 AM to begin our four-hour shift. Watching the sunrise after a perfectly clear and starry night only intensified the surreal sensation of being about the Harvey Gamage.
This perfect tranquility was soon rudely interrupted by a nauseosity that resonated in the pit of my stomach. The remainder of my morning, along with several other members of the crew, was spent leaning over the rail of the ship, so sick we could barely function. We were resentful of the endless rolling waves and wondered what in the world we had gotten ourselves into. The day seemed full of negative energy and chains of complaints. We were cold. We were exhausted. We were dirty.
And still we sailed on.
We were naive in our expectations of being underway and learned quickly that this trip would not always be "smooth sailing." The misery nearly all of us felt came unexpectedly and without preparation. It was on this day that we truly understood Dave Pilla's works, which now seemed more of a warning.
At last, bu mid-afternoon the sea began to calm and my seasickness faded away. Several of us pulled out homework and Crazy-Creeks to settle on deck and let the friendly sun kiss our faces. Others stood in circles sharing amusing stories and riddles; the air was filled with laughter and contagious positivity.
In my one week as a sailor aboard the Harvey Gamage, I have learned that the weather can alter my entire perspective of any given day. When it is overcast and air is frigidly cold, I can think of nothing but my desire to be anywhere but here. Everything and everyone makes me angry. I am resentful of the people who wake me for watching the middle of the night and of the educators who assign so much work. But, when the warmth of the sun crawls into my tired bones, the constant state of business on deck is intensely satisfying. We set about our daily work willingly and happily. When the sun shines, we are content to spend the day hauling on lines, checking the boat, scrubbing, washing, studying, and repeating the cycle all over again multiple times. Chores are carried out with alacrity and craftsmanship; we take pride in our beautiful home. It is gorgeous days like this when we look out at the gleaming and wondrous sea and are reminded of our great desire for adventure. I can only speak for myself, but after just one week, the Harvey Gamage and her crew have stolen my heart.


Sailing: Past meets Present

Hello readers! This is Lilli here to report on the Harvey Gamage and her amazing crew. We are currently docked in Mystic, Connecticut. It has been a busy, hard week to get here. We have been through a lot, from rough seas and seasickness to ordering pizza in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Now that we are in Mystic, our experience continues.

We reached the Mystic River on September 22nd, but could not dock until there was space for us. We anchored for the night and spent a day doing homework, having class, taking deck showers, and just enjoying the beautiful sunshine. Some of us spent time learning the lines of the ship and knots needed to be cleared to go out on the netting at the bow of the boat, known as the headrig.

Once there was space for all 33 of us and Harvey Gamage, we docked at Mystic Seaport. The first steps on land after a week at sea were strange. I caught myself rocking because the land is not.  Mystic is a historic shipbuilding town, so we have spent a lot of time wandering through and learning about the buildings, the tasks workers performed, and all that went into building a ship; and let me tell you, there is a lot that goes into building a ship and having is ready for sea.

After the learning, we enjoyed an amazing barbecue dinner at the home of a student. The food was amazing, like all the food thus far on our voyage!

Today, all of the students joined an educator aboard the whale ship, the Charles W. Morgan. There, we were read an excerpt from Chase's narrative of the sinking of the Essex. It was interesting to link what we had read for summer reading to an actual whaling vessel and a first person account of the sinking. We will also be visiting the planetarium to learn about stars before playing all hands Capture the Flag  in the Seaport tonight.

Fair Winds to everyone who has read my report,


Ocean Classroom Fall 2012 Embarks

>> Wednesday, September 19, 2012

After months of preparation, the Fall 2012 Ocean Classroom student crew arrived at Proctor Academy. We had a busy two days near and occasionally on the Proctor campus, during which educators and students got to know one another.  Initial classes in Maritime Literature, Marine Science, and Maritime History were held, giving students the chance to get ahead in homework assignments before joining the vessel.
Yesterday, we left Proctor and joined Harvey Gamage, our vessel and home for the next two months.  Students were given a thorough welcome and introduction to the ship from the professional crew before taking some time to settle into their new home. After a reception with families and friends, we settled into the watch schedule that will set the rhythm for the semester.
The ship's company is divided into three watches, each comprising a Mate, deckhand, educator, and one-third of the student crew. At any given point, one watch is "on" or responsible for the ship, safety, and any necessary work. Every two to four hours the watch changes, divvying up the ship's work evenly between all watches every three days.
As this was our first day aboard, there was much to learn about how to be responsible for the ship and the tasks we needed to complete. This includes boat checks, dishes, and morning chores.  As we gain in experience, these jobs will become habits that we are able to complete efficiently with little or no instruction.
The student crew is approaching their new world and responsibilities with zest. All are actively jumping up to assit one another and professional crew with tasks. They are picking up the lingo of the ship, no small feat given the hundreds of years of language created aboard traditional vessels.  This afternoon we will cast off docklines and head for sea, adding wind, waves, lines, and sails into the things they are learning. We are all excited.


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