"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

Destination: Republica Dominicana

>> Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

We are alongside in Jacksonville, in stages of the final pre-departure preparations.

In the next hour, we will be casting off docklines bound for the Dominican Republic. This is a longer passage and the blog will not be updated again until the ship reaches Hispaniola, the island that is home to both the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

We are now bound for Samana instead of Santo Domingo. The students and educators will still be reaching the capital city, but will travel by land to get there. This will allow us to maximize our time and cultural experiences in the Caribbean.

Fair winds!
-Beth Spencer, Head Educator


Setting Out for Sea

>> Monday, October 29, 2012

Today, the 29th of October, we got word from our Captain, while we were huddled in what warm clothing we have left, that we are heading out tomorrow. What great news! The students and crew are landsick and ready to get out of Jacksonville. Sitting in Jacksonville, waiting out Hurricane Sandy, has not been bad.

Our crew and educators brainstormed and spend hours putting their heads together to create an amazing race. An amazing race is a sort of urban adventure race. Our race included all the students racing around the city of Jacksonville in teams trying to complete tasks and challenges. The race ended at around 6:00 PM with all teams finishing strong, smiles beaming from ear to ear, despite the cramping calves and sore feet.

The next morning, we were treated to visit to the First Coast YMCA. Those with energy lifted weights and ran. Those who needed some relaxation enjoyed the pool and sauna. The day wrapped up with laundry and a celebration of our most wonderful, magnificent, fabulous cook Lizzie's birthday.

And thus, the crazy weekend began. As we celebrated Lizzie, a loud sound system in front of the Hyatt (and therefore our vessel) began blasting music. This continued into the wee hours. As others have mentioned, this weekend was a big weekend for Jacksonville: the annual Gators-Bulldogs game, which took place on Saturday afternoon. The weekend was filled with fans asking questions about the boat, our lives, and asking if Jack Sparrow was our Captain. If any of us wondered what a fish in a fish bowl feels like, we now know.

The night of the game, the professional crew stood watching, giving us the gift of a full nine hours of sleep. I never thought a full night of sleep could made such a difference! Our time in Jacksonville has been packed with classes so that we can get ahead of schedule. By getting ahead academically, out limited time in the Caribbean can be about the culture and experience with less pressure of academics.

Along with the exciting news of setting sail tomorrow, we also learned that the HMS Bounty, a fully rigged ship and one of the largest tall ships on the East Coast, was out in Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, they had to abandon ship. The crew was airlifted from liferafts by the Coast Guard and Bounty now lies at the bottom of the ocean. While we had to work to maintain a positive attitude about being in the unscheduled port stop of Jacksonville, there are certainly no complaints now. We are thankful to be safe and sound, which is the most important thing we can ask for. We know that making the decision to head back to Florida instead of continuing on to the Caribbean before Sandy had even developed into a full hurricane was not easy for our Captain, but he did it and kept us all safe. We have a pretty amazing Captain!

As we prepare to get underway, we are all a combination of anxious and excited to return to open waters for our longest passage yet. Please wish us fair winds for the remaining few weeks!



The OCF Amazing Race

The humidity was already palpable, even at 9:30 in the morning. We were mid-muster and I could see the excitement on my classmates' faces and the competitive glint entering their eyes. Our head educator Beth's voice still captures our attention as she informed us of what our day would entail, the mischievous sparkle never leaving her eyes.

The crew and educators had designed a day-long activity that strongly resembled the Amazing Race, a reality television show broadcast on CBS in which participants do to various places competing by completing random and bizarre tasks. The nerves built as we received the list of items that we needed to bring with us: water bottles, our Literature Reader, a fathom of rope, Jacksonville maps, an OCF sticker, seine twine, cameras, and writing utensils. This list comprised what we would be carrying on our backs for the six to seven hours as we traveled in various loops around Jacksonville.

Our teams were announced--I was paired with Austin and Lilli. We frantically scrambled to procure the items that were previously rattled off, shouting orders to each other as we went. The heat and tiredness that plague my body were forgotten as I stuffed my backpack full with the necessary supplies. My team met back on deck, our anxiety rising as we struggled to find a team name and uniform-the first task of the day. Our first uniform with "tanks or cut-offs" we vetoed since it heavily resembled another team's choice. The feeling of defeat already filled me as we desperately spit out ideas, finally landing on "The Pumpkins" which consisted of us wearing some orange article of clothing. Our uniform passed and we received the first clue of the race.

We briskly walked over, our outlook gloomy as we observed the other groups racing ahead. We come to the first objective: measuring the uprights of Jacksonville's Main Street Bridge using our bodies to do so. With a measurement of forty feet, we strode on to the Friendship Fountain, where we got the next clue.

The competition was high as shown by our early lunch at 10:30, having already completed the tasks that were expected to take us until 11:30 or 12:00. Lunch was only earned after getting mall-goers to join us in a made-up cheer about the Florida Gators or Georgia Bulldogs. We accomplished this by roping in four Georgians who were over-enthused about the fact that they got to chant and bark in a bulldog-like fashion in front of our science teacher (who had shaved off his beard and mustache after the race began to confuse us). After our quick lunch, we trudged on, completing each task with a drive to win in the warm Florida day.

Our motivation was dessert with our very own Captain Flansburg at the Hyatt and, of course, bragging rights over the other students. For most of the students, it seemed that spending time with the Captain and eating in an actual restaurant with cold water was valued much higher than the actual dessert itself. Personally, I was motivated by the aspect of getting dressed up and spending time with the Captain.

This motivation that I felt in the morning did not last long, for the heat and tiredness that consumed me weighed me down along with the slice of cheesecake we had to consume in seconds at the top of the forty-two story Bank of America building.

Dashing down from the cheesecake, the next task was what other teams would nominate as the hardest at the end of the day, but for my team it was a five minute breeze thanks to my teammate, Lilli, who had previous knowledge and practice tying the running turks head. She tied it in record time, propelling us to the number one slot. This lead kept with us until much later in the race.

The clues took us on a trolley down to Riverside where we wandered around looking for an pizza place in order to find the price of their signature dish. After the Italian restaurant we walked with a new found determination over to the park where we were all tied together before walking back to the boat. This proved more difficult than one would initially think since at moments, especially when bikers were sharing the path, one of us would forget we were attached and attempt to go to the opposite side of the trail, creating a clothesline affect.

We made it back to the boat and immediately dove into out next challenge: getting a the monkey's fist of a heaving line into a life ring floating aft of the vessel. This task that seemed so simple took us around forty-five minutes to complete! Our positive moods quickly deteriorated as we feared our loss of the top slot. More groups caught up and began throwing their own heaving lines towards the life ring. Our downtrodden attitudes were erased with Austin's success in making it in and we strode on towards the oldest tree in Jacksonville.

At the tree, we encountered a "Road Block," where two crewmembers made us climb a tree to retrieve a pumpkin that we then had to carve into our favorite crewmember. We carved Captain Flansburg and took our carved pumpkin, mustache and all, onto the Skyrail towards our next destination.

We met the Captain outside the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts where we had to don mustaches and berets to recite "My Lost Youth." Luckily no accents were required. We completed our recitation and then sprinted back towards the ship where we completed a hand-crafted puzzle as our final assignment. Completed, the puzzle said, "The End!" A sign of release left all of us as we realized that the seven-hour Amazing Race was over and that we had won. The acknowledgement of our success from the crew and the fact that we had won brought smiles to our faces. We had won by 4.5 minutes and this fact allowed us to finally relax. It was only then that we realized how absolutely disgusting we were. We looked frazzled and sweat dampened our bodies and cloths. The deck showers we took were revitalizing, the feeling of being clean elevated our moods. We were clean and we had won, what more could there be?

After our dinner on deck, the first place and second place teams dressed up in our freshest cloths, which may not be anything special to someone who has not been on a boat for a month and a half. We set out with out arms linked, across the street to the Hyatt. We strode through the doors with our heads held high and our backs straight; proudly using the Captain's name for our dessert reservation.

Our time was willed with reminiscent details of our day of challenges, triumphs, and mess-ups. We laughed and made of of each other for the ice water and milk that we had ordered with seemingly too much enthusiasm, evident by the expression on the waiter's face.

I felt triumph-the feeling of pride radiated off of every single one of us as our faces glowed. I knew at that moment that these people and this experience; even if it was only halfway over, had changed all of us, had brought us closer and molded us into the over-excited and determined people who sat around me. I was proud to be here and proud to be sitting with and personally know every single one of the members at that table and of that crew.



Pet-ventures in Jacksonville

In two days it will be Halloween.  Originally we had been planning on celebrating the holiday in the Dominican Republic, but instead we are in lovely Jacksonville. Apart from the rowdy football fans visiting us in the middle of the night, it has not been that bad. We happened to arrive in the days preceding the big Gators versus Bulldogs game.

It was cool watching the whole city prepare days before the event that would only last a few hours. On game day, however, instead of going to watch the kick off on the Jumbotron outside the stadium, a few of us, accompanied by the ship's engineer Matt, decided to go to the local animal shelter instead.

We had not planned to, but after wrestling some alligators and contemplating train surfing to Montreal, we  discovered a sign pointing us in the direction of a pet adoption center. Overwhelmed by the temptation of puppies and kittens, we set out blindly in the streets of Jacksonville. Before entering the shelter, we devised a devious plan. We would say we were from a school, looking for a dog to live in our dorm, so perhaps we would be allowed to play with the dogs.

The plan turned out to be unneeded, however, as we were allowed to walk right in. The first thing I noticed about the shelter was that almost every dog there was a pit bull. The had so many that they had to start putting some down to make room for more. This saddened me because all of the dogs we met there were so nice and people still go to pet shops to spend hundreds of dollars on puppies.

Despite this, we all had a great time. After playing with the dogs and cats, we found a little restaurant, which was amazing. Overall, it was a wonderful day, providing a break from traveling in a large group and allowing me to enjoy different activities than some of my peers.



The Better Part...

>> Sunday, October 28, 2012

They say discretion is the better part of valor. And they say a ship in port is safe but that’s not what ships are for and fortune favors the bold. They say plenty of things.

When faced with decisions like staying in port for bad weather, I tend to stay in port. Not that the Harvey Gamage is unable to care for herself or the crew doesn’t have the experience to deal with it. It is just that going to sea is already fraught with dangers unknowable and unforeseeable so as a mariner you always try to “reduce the variables.”
How to do this? Train for emergencies, avoid foul weather, keep the ship and crew ready at all times…the list is endless.

I am glad to report that our stay in Jacksonville, while maybe not the most “salty” thing to and may not be what we had anticipated for our program, has resulted in zero damage to the ship and zero damage to the students.

Last year at this time I was caught in a tropical depression that was unexpected and spent several days working hard to keep the ship and crew safe. I didn’t enjoy it.
Proctor Ocean Classroom 2012 is learning all the skills required to deal with such things; hopefully they never will have to. In fact as all of you have probably heard, a lot of what they learn here will carry over into the future. Self-confidence, being conscious of the needs of others, the value of hard work and being trust worthy...this list is endless as well.

Being prepared for foul weather and emergencies at sea is being prepared for life.
Many books and stories have been written about disasters at sea and in life. What will your students' story look like?

Fair winds, Capt. Christopher Flansburg.


Self Maintenance

>> Friday, October 26, 2012

We were bound for warm weather and vibrant Caribbean culture. Two days out at sea and we heard of a tropical storm brewing near Jamaica. This tropical storm quickly turned into a strong hurricane, moving up towards were we would be sailing. Captain made the decision to be safe and sail back to Florida.

We arrived in Jacksonville, Florida on Monday, the twenty-first and have been here since. It was shocking coming into a big city like Jacksonville. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. The city is getting ready for the big Florida-Georgia football game. We are docked right next two a large hotel, which holds many rowdy fans. Dock watches are pretty interesting with all the pre-game extravaganzas and enthusiastic fans wandering around.

Today we got the chance to have a "self-maintenance day," this meant we went to the local YMCA to enjoy working out, swimming, and most importantly, showering! Once we were all clean, we trooped back to the boat to gather dirty laundry! After a long day, we were fortunate enough to catch a trolley back to the boat.

Once we were all back and settled down, we celebrated the birthday of our fabulous cook, Lizzie. As we savored our delicious red-velvet cake, we listened and watched the pre-game festivities onshore and listened to the music being broadcast from the hotel.

We are staying in Jacksonville until Hurricane Sandy has passed over us, then we are finally bound for the beautiful islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico to catch some Caribbean rays!



Poor Old Horse: A Month in Review

>> Wednesday, October 24, 2012

“Poor old horse!” We sing in a jumbled chorus, slightly off-key. We are all dressed in our Sunday best, or as “best” as possible, given the fact that we are living in such close quarters and many of us have not taken a shower in at least several days. But it does not matter; happily gathering to take twenty minutes out of our hectic 24-hour schedule, we celebrate the passage of our first month at sea.  The dead horse, made of two sheets of reusable paper bags stapled together, its mane made from pieces of twine, its eyes two black x’s, awaits its fate with apprehension.

The tradition of throwing the effigy of a dead horse is an old one. It dates back to the practice of shanghaiing sailors onto a boat against their better judgments. A crimp would drug the unlucky soon-to-be sailor using alcohol and opium. The sailor would wake up the next morning in the damp hold of a ship, with only the clothes he was wearing and a bad hangover, his first month of wages received in advance by the crimp. The sailor was essentially “buying a dead horse,” until, after a month of working for free, he and his peers would celebrate beginning to earn wages by throwing a replica of a dead horse overboard.

Obviously our situation is not as dire as that unhappy sailor’s, but it has not been quite a leisurely cruise either. On small pieces of paper, we each write what we would like to get rid of after the first month. The horse’s paper cheeks begin to bulge as a month’s worth of frustrations are stuffed down its mouth, its legs crinkle as it receives punches and kicks. I look down on my blank piece of paper and think.

I grin as I see the word “dolphins” written in green on someone else’s slip of paper. We have been seeing so many dolphins that whenever we hear them spouting on a calm evening in port or watch them gracefully surfing the waves along the bow, our initial reaction is “again?!?!”  I remember waking up sleepily for my  0000-0400 watch only to see everyone crouching over the rail. A dolphin was weaving in and out of the wake, leaving a trail a bioluminescent light, its fins outlined against the dark waters. How lucky we are to complain about seeing too many dolphins!

On another slip of paper I see the word “burrs” in capital letters. I remember I stay at Cumberland Island, where burrs would cling onto clothing, backpacks, the soles of flip flops…Understandably; we were not the most cautious. We crawled our way up the twisted branches of live oaks, handing upside down like clumsy excited sloths. We ran barefoot along the island’s white sands, maybe playing a game of pick-up soccer on the beach. We waded ankle-deep in the muddy shore, chasing and catching fiddler crabs. No wonder we got a little dirty, bringing back twigs, sand, mud, and of course, burrs.

I see a more personal note; someone has scribbled “fear of heights” on their slip of paper. We have recently started the race to becoming “aloft-cleared,” for which we have to pass a series of tests (how to tie knots, how to set or strike a sail, etc.), so that we can climb up the shrouds to the top of the masts without a crew member. I remember the thrill of seeing the boat grow smaller and smaller below me as I ascended, bringing one hand above the other then one foot above the other, breathing deeply. I clutch the shrouds more tightly as the boat rocks back, looking at the faces squinting up at me for reassurance. But any uneasiness disappears as I reach the top and marvel at the immensity of the ocean and the beauty of the small world that is our ship.

I look down again at my blank slip of paper and smiling, I write “family-style dinners.” We were recently tricked into a bread roll ambush on the pretext that we were having a family-style dinner and should all squish into the main salon. Muttering variations of “never again,” we resolved ourselves to the fact that “we were not a family.”

We watch as the dead horse is twirled over our heads and is thrown into the ocean. It floats along the surface and disappears out of sight as we race on to our next adventure. I know that though it has only been a month, we are a family, even if I will not admit to it. 



A Detour and Diversion

As those following our iBoat Tracker have noticed, we are no longer at sea, making waves for the Dominican Republic.

As those following the weather have noticed, there is a late season tropical low, Hurricane Sandy, making much larger waves in the same stretch of the Atlantic Ocean we would be in had we continued on our original path.

Instead, as we give Hurricane Sandy a wide berth, we are exploring the Jacksonville area, continuing classwork, and preparing for an epic Adventure Race tomorrow.

-Beth, Head Educator


Setting for Sea

>> Friday, October 19, 2012

Tonight marks the last night of our voyage that will be spent in the US. After a whirlwind of provisioning, maintenance, and tending to personal details, the Gamage and her crew are ready for sea.

After returning to the mainland from the dreamy place known as Cumberland Island National Seashore, the students spent a day doing maintenance on the ship before enjoying soda, pizza, and ice cream in the evening.

Today was spent ashore. The morning included the history midterm while the afternoon consisted of a group meeting to discuss goals for the second half of the trip, literature class, some free time, and our second opportunity to use telephones this trip. To mark our final night in the States, the evening is being spent watching Around Cape Horn while drinking hot apple cider.

We are very excited about the upcoming transit. We are bound for Santo Domingo, Dominican Replublic, making this our longest passage yet. We anticipate it will last 10-14 days. We will have more updates for you once we arrive in the Dominican Republic!

-Beth, Head Educator


A Perfect Day

>> Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rising at 0500 after an hour long watch at 0100 is the hardest wake-up I have done. I am half-conscious, blindly shoving books, water, and clothes into my backpack. Boat runs to the dock begin at 0530 and a south wind sprays us until even our waterproof clothes are wet.

This is my first experience of Cumberland Island, a preserved barrier island off the Georgia-Florida line. Our goal is to travel to the opposite side of the island to watch the sunrise.

We walk silently in order to fully take in the island. We spread out on the beach about twenty minutes before sunrise; allowing us to collect our thoughts. This time is precious, since it seems as though we are always busy; from boat checks to classes to extremely sought after sleep.

After a morning of rest, we begin our educational day. We tour the Cumberland Island Dungeoness and surrounding properties. They are "perfectly" preserved in their decaying state.

We change gears when the tour concluded, transitioning to a walk through the various habitats on the island. Two hundred yards can cover a wetland, marsh, and sand dunes, all teeming with organisms. Eventually, we reach a beach, incomparable to anything we have visited so far. The sand is softer, the waves bigger, and the trash nonexistent when compared to Sandy Hook. We are given free time and almost everyone uses it to rinse a week's worth of grime off our bodies.

The final event of our day is a barbecue, cooked by the ever-talented Lizzie and Captain Flansburg. We are served hot dogs, burgers, and there are even hand-made veggie burgers. Dinner is quickly followed by dessert; toasting marshmallows over the still burning coals.

With a sudden influx of energy, the group starts an impromptu game of soccer. It is boys versus girls, heating up as feet are stepped on, slide tackles trip opposing players, sunset, and goals are scored. Yet, we continue to play well past our eyes being able to identify the difference between player and ball, playing so we never have to leave the soft, sandy beach.



A Glimpse of Gamage


Cumberland Island

Looking down the vacant Cumberland beaches, the light brown sand, lush green plants, and deep blue ea is all that is in sight. This island is unlike any other place I have been. Being a national seashore, the entire island is disconnected from any commercialism or industrialism. Instead, it is covered in endless, lush trees with long, Tarzan-like vines floating down. There are wild horses that roam the island, armadillos that hide in the green, gators that burrow in the swamps, and thousands of other species that inhabit this land.

Cumberland Island has now downtown, no grocery stores or restaurants, and few tourists. Similar to the feel of the Harvey Gamage, being here is like stepping back in time to a world before technology. After spending a week in Charleston, a bustling city, it is a welcome change.

In the first few weeks of Ocean Classroom, the thought of going to port, back to civilization and technology was what got us through the voyage. However, as the weeks have gone by, it has become the opposite. Instead of wanting to stay in touch with society in Charleston, we were all eager to set sail. What we had grown to love about Ocean Classroom is the serenity and beauty that we see everyday on board. Each port we have been to has been beautiful, however, unlike Cumberland, they remind us of the life we have waiting at home.

Instead, Cumberland Island reminds me of an amazing dream. As we were walking along the beach, Niki said, "Cumberland is like the backyard we wish we had, but we now have buildings and computers."

Today we get to swim and play on the fantasy-like island until returning to reality as we travel the eight miles to our last U.S. port stop: Fernandina Beach, Florida.



Extra Moments In Charleston

>> Sunday, October 14, 2012

Today was our sixth day docked in Charleston, South Carolina. We were planning to leave yesterday, however, the weather has not been on our side, so we are hopefully heading out early tomorrow. I am not too worried, because Charleston is a great port to be in!

There is so much to do here and we are always out and about. We have been able to explore the town and study its importance in the start of the Civil War. We took a trip to Charleston's largest container shipping terminal and enjoyed a private tour. We had free time to wander the shops and restaurants of King and Market Streets. And of course, we participated in the annual Charleston Scavenger Hunt, which involved us running around in small groups trying to find items like a Confederate flag, boiled peanuts, and a lock of hair from a Southern Belle.

All things considered, Charleston has been a great stop. Our next destination is Cumberland Island, Georgia. Midterms are about a week away, which means our Ocean Classroom experience is nearing the halfway point. It feels like the days have flown by and I am looking forward to the adventure this next month has in store for us!



The Holy City

Living within a hundred-thirty-two feet of 32 people gives one a secluded sensation. I could not tell you how it feels to step outside of society and then step back into it. To experience that feeling, you would need to do so yourself. Stepping outside of society forces you to think about deep feelings and what is really important in life.

While traveling hundreds of miles on a schooner keeps you working all hours of the day and night, the passage from Virginia to South Carolina was our longest voyage yet. We all went four days without seeing land and had another two days coasting along the shoreline. After the long journey we found ourselves pulling into Charleston Harbor.

It is a magnificent place, filled with hustle and bustle that is hard to comprehend after being away from the everyday life. Charleston has been the best stop yet, besides the fact that our inflatable boat "Softie" was stolen.

We have been exploring the city for almost a week now and have fallen in love with it. Charleston is our halfway point in this program, so we have a long way to go. We are setting sail later today for Cumberland Island in Georgia. This small island is a national park but is only a few miles from Fernandina, Florida. Then we leave the United States, headed for the Caribbean.



Life is But a Dream

>> Friday, October 12, 2012

Ocean Classroom has been the most difficult thing I have done. Between the late night watches, "soles and bowls" (bathroom and floor cleaning), and sailing through torrential downpours; it has not been on any measure, but I would not change a thing. While on this voyage to southern waters, I have had many moments where I find myself looking out, pondering about life and where I am presently. Theses moments, between sunrise to sunset, is all due to the hard work each member of the ship puts in.

I was told by a friend's father that the term "worth your salt" comes from the men at sea. In many cases, salt was such a high commodity, that men would get paid in salt what he his work was worth. I feel in many cases this correlates to my classmates and myself. We will only get out of the Ocean experience what we put into it; no more and no less. These great moments come with a hefty price; rough hands, sore muscles, and tank-top tans.

We are not even halfway through our voyage and have already gotten so much from this opportunity. Before I even set foot upon the Harvey Gamage, family and friends told me that the memories will last forever. I am just starting to fully understand what they were insinuating. I will never forget the things I do on Ocean Classroom because I may never have similar opportunities again. This experience makes me feel that "life is but a dream" thanks to the great people around me for this experience.



Changes of Faces and Places

>> Monday, October 8, 2012

It is a glorious sunny day. We are currently in our second day underway to Charleston, South Carolina. I have not gotten seasick in a solid weak. Success! Sunday the seventh will mark out third week. It is odd how fast time flies and also how slowly some days seem. I am finally starting to get into the routine. Change has made its mark. We all have calloused hands from hailing lines and blisters from our Tevas and Chacos. Everyone’s skin is either bronzed or lobster red.

I hear fewer and fewer complaints about getting up for midnight and dawn watches. Students jump to orders confidently. Though it has only been three weeks, I see subtle changes in all of us. New friendships have formed and old friendships have been tested.

We all miss home and our old routines but for now, we make the most out of these sunny days. On the ship, schedules are always changing. One of the biggest realizations I have had is to not worry about the past or yearn for the future but to savor the moment I am in now.  The sunset melting over the horizon, the pods of dolphins swarming the boat, the hysterical laughter in the forward cabin before bed all make every day worth coming aboard.



Night and Day

Night and day are two parts of our lives that are distinctly different on sea than on land. They almost blend together with no start and end to the day, as if the sun rising and setting are merely there to provide somewhat of a change. These past few weeks packed with work and fun have all seemed like the same day, all blending together.

Our schedules have changed from sleep at night to hours scattered throughout the night and day. It took some adjustment, getting used to waking up at 2:00 AM for the day. Although some of us continue to push that idea away; most have conformed to this lifestyle and it has become our routine to live a longer day than most teenagers. On the other hand, most teenagers have never experienced something like this.

On the Harvey Gamage, we are split into three different watches. One watch is on deck, ready to work at all times, even at night. All other watches are off, to sleep, eat, do homework, or just hang out. When not on watch, you sleep for a few hours and soon enough, it is your watch getting ready to get the foresail, dropping the anchor, or pumping the bilges; and this happens all day. Doing this at 3:00 PM is the same as doing it at 3:00 AM except for mere changes in warmth, visibility, and excitement is all that is accounted for.  The nights do vary though, ranging from five foot seas and ten knot winds, running around frantically to two knot winds struggling not to fall asleep.  The nights are filled with stories, bottlenose dolphins, sunsets, sunrises, bioluminescent plankton, and much much more. It is all the same though, day and night.

The humor that occurs at night is immense and very exciting. As we are all very over-tired, we end up making the best out of it, especially on wake-ups. Once a watch finishes their four-hour stint, they wake up the next watch. This always brings great laughs. Everyone is very unique in their reaction to being woken up. The classic is the sigh with mumbling in disbelief. Most people just turn over and mumble, but others respond with vulgar words. Others take some shaking to wake up and have the half asleep remark that they don’t remember, but is laughed about all day.  At some point, everyone responds with the remark, “Oo….ahh, please not right now!” Once they finish waddling across the deck, checking their balance with every crash of a wave to the hull, the monotonous look on their face fades away and they are ready to see what the night watch has to offer them. Then the watch that just got relieved heads off to bed for a few hours of precious sleep. And this process continued to repeat over and over; blending everything together.


Blinded by the Light

>> Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I gaze into the glowing globe of the compass before me, concentrating on my course. It was imprinted in my mind; course ordered 220. As I clutched the spokes of the helm, my number one priority was to steer the Harvey Gamage safely through the night waters of the Atlantic Ocean. My eyes soon climbed up the starboard side of the schooner I have called home for twelve days and fixed upon the mass of lights on the horizon. This particular mass of lights is commonly known as Atlantic City, New Jersey, however, in my mind it remained a source of entertainment. Our exact distance from civilization I do not know, but it seemed to be about a mile away.

My body sways side to side with the movement of the boat against the waves and my thigh pressed against a spoke of the wheel. The lights of the buildings and bridges mesmerized me and I had to collect myself to bring my eyes to my work. The compass had wandered ten degrees off of my ordered course, and read 210. I quickly took a couple turns of the wheel, trying to reach 220 before anyone noticed. In a minute or so, I seemed balanced enough to cease my gaze upon the compass for a moment. My distraction now was at the glare of the moon on the thrashing waves, which were calm compared to some of the seas at the beginning of our voyage. It seemed similar to the lights of the city; both were shimmering and ever-moving.

I noticed someone from my watch coming aft; where I was located, and knew I it was for my relief. We exchanged information. I took one last look at the beauty of the night before climbing below to receive my next job.


Science, Strolling, and Swimming in Sandy Hook

>> Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hello All! We are underway from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, headed south to Cape Charles, Virgina! We were in Sandy Hook for two short nights, anchored with a beautiful view of New York City. The George Washington Bridge stretched over the upper bay from New Jersey to New York. The city sparkled at night and majestically rose in the sunshine during the day. It was so close and yet so far away. The full moon shone with the bright lights of the city. The clouds parted around the moon like people parting for a queen. The mood on the Gamage was cheerful and joyous as  we strummed along on guitars and rang out in song. It was a marvelous time for a night out at sea.

In Sandy Hook, we got to go to an awesome lab run by NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]. We learned how they test and research fish and other organisms including plankton and clams. They showed us equipment, the huge tanks they keep their fish in, and the various labs for different experiments. It was extremely interesting and a very eye-opening educational experience.

Julia, Nikki, and Lilli pose with their work.
Also in Sandy Hook, we wobbled on our sea legs to a beach four miles away. That is an eight-mile round trip! We were not used to walking so much and some of us were even sore! It was nice to get moving again though. We went to a beach that had washed up trash all over it. We had a challenge to use the trash to create the most meaningful piece of artwork. There were huge ships made, people, and even a lobster dinner, however, I think my group and I had the best one of all. Nikki, Lilli, and I made an awesome dead fish with trash inside and being caught by a hook. It showed how our littering is killing marine life and that we are overfishing the seas. We definitely won even through they did not pick a winner.

After all that trash art, we got to go swimming in the very salty ocean off at Gateway National Recreation Area. It felt amazing and was a blast. I still have sand in my hair that I cannot seem to shake loose without a real shower. I guess we will all be sandy until our next freshwater opportunity!

The warm air is slowly creeping up on us as we head south, closer and closer to the Caribbean. I know we all cannot wait to take off our long underwear and warm hats. We are all still enjoying this so much and are learning the sails and sea. And these sails and sea are taking us to glorious Cape Charles, Virgina! 



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