"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

A trip to the Boiling Lake

>> Tuesday, February 26, 2013

            We arrived in Dominica and the feeling of excitement was overwhelming us. As we came closer to shore we could make out small houses on the tops of the mountains. A massive white wall belonging to a cruise ship blocked the small city of Roseau. We made our way to where we would be anchoring and finally Roseau was completely visible. Although the city is a great place, it would have to wait for us to explore it. Our first journey on land would be going on a long hike to the boiling hike. This is one of Dominica’s toughest hikes. With spirits high we first embarked on a long, very exciting taxi ride. Finally we arrived at the beginning of the hike and our guides gave us natural war paint for our faces. As we started our hike, there were huge trees everywhere and the amount of green was amazing. There were trees that no one had ever seen before, with roots in all shapes and sizes. The ground was slippery and muddy. Our shoes were immediately covered in the thick mud. The trail wasn’t east and required some athletic jumping, which was difficult. The view of never ending stairs didn’t help morale, but the view at the top did. We hiked down into the valley of desolation. There was an overwhelming smell of sulfur and rotten eggs. Strangely enough, eggs were on the menu for a snack. Our guide, Sea Cat, had boiled some eggs in the naturally boiling water. They were really delicious and didn’t taste like sulfur. We continued onward to the boiling lake with the smell of sulfur passing every once and a while. We passed a few unusual rivers with shiny grey water. The color of the rocks highlighted the color of the rivers even more. We finally approached the boiling lake. We headed up the side of a small hill, turned a corner and ended up on a platform, a dead end. We had arrived at the boiling lake, although at the moment it was not visible because of a large cloud of smoke. Soon the wind would blow, revealing a large bowl of water boiling at the center. We had lunch, took some group photos, and reluctantly began the hike back. The return home seemed much easier and shorter, although it was still a challenge for us. Finishing was a relief but the whole experience was very rewarding.

Diego Purcell



Carib Culture


           Today we had a 0600 wake-up for a trip to see and experience Carib culture in Dominica. So far, it’s been my favorite port. Dominica has a nice city, a cool fruit market and the infamous boiling lake hike. We went ashore and climbed into our vans, which took us to numerous places. The first stop was a grapefruit farm. We loaded up on some fruit for the ship, and then continued on to a local beach to stretch our legs after a long drive. Then we went up a mountain to experience some Carib culture.
            As our van blasted Bob Marley music with very high base but great sound quality, we stopped at a small basket weaving shop and I got a few gifts for my family. We continued to drive through the area and sampled homemade cassava bread. Next we went to a local home to taste homemade chocolate. Finally, we went to a local pool for swim call.

Thomas Cornell


Titu Gorge and the Emerald Pool


            While visiting the island of Dominica, we had two awesome swimming experiences. On Wednesday February 20th, we hiked as a group to the boiling lake. It was an amazing hike that I am sure I will never forget. After our long day of hiking we were able to swim in the Titu Gorge. The gorge is a system of caves and waterfalls located at the boiling lake trailhead. The gorge was made famous after it was filmed in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It is shown when Jack Sparrow is in the giant ball escaping from the natives. While we were visiting, all of the local vendors made sure to tell us that this was the spot filmed in the movie.
            From the outside, the gorge looked like a normal river flowing between two rock ledges. As we got closer, we could see that the ledges continued and only left a four-foot wide passage up the river. As we swam against the current, the water became quite deep. The swim was less than 100 yards from the mouth of the cave to the first waterfall. One at a time, we each climbed up the four-foot waterfall to the holding pool above. The pool was small, maybe twelve feet long, and had a large current. This was where we saw the larger waterfall. It was maybe ten feet tall and three feet across, pumping out a considerable amount of water. We all stayed for a short time but quickly became cold in the chilly water. It was so much fun to jump off of the first waterfall and float downstream with the current. The swimming concluded an awesome day seeing some of Dominica’s natural treasures.
            On Thursday the 21st, we explored Dominica for a second day. We drove around the island in cramped 15 passenger taxis. We stopped several times but eventually made our way to the Carib territory. The day was filled with short stops aimed at learning about the culture and resources of the island. Again, we were lucky enough to end our day with a swim. This time we swam in the Emerald Pool. We had a ten-minute walk from the parking lot to the pool. The pool itself was thirty feet in diameter. There was a waterfall that fell forty feet into the pool, which was around five feet deep. It looked as if the space around the pool had been hollowed out. The water was a refreshing temperature, and we all had fun jumping off the rock outcroppings. Almost everyone went in to the water but a few decided to stay salty. The fact that the water in the pool was fresh made it all the more appealing to the rest of us. Dominica is an awesome island that had so much to offer.  The natural parks we visited were spectacular and made for great fieldtrips. It will be hard for our next stops to match up to the beautiful island of Dominica.

Ben Crosby


Reflections on Dominica

Dominica has treated us very well. So far it has been my favorite island. It has scenery I never want to forget, with dramatic mountains rising out from the sea draped with lush green rain forests that are filled with all sorts of exotic trees, plants and hidden water falls. We got to experience all of these things on our hike up to the boiling lake, which was led by two awesome guides, Sea Cat and Callo. Along the way, they informed us of the traditional and modern uses of plants and trees. As we climbed higher the views became more and more breathtaking, and we stopped again and again to take pictures. When we reached the summit, Sea Cat graced us with homemade passion fruit juice. As we continued our hike down the other side, we got to see Dominica’s ongoing geothermal activity. We all got “facials” by smearing sulfur mud on our faces. We also enjoyed lounging in the natural hot water springs. The main event of the hike was the boiling lake. I doubt I will ever see anything like it again. When we made it to the end of the trail, the finale was Titu Gorge, a refreshing natural spring for our sore muscles. It was a perfect way to end a long day of hiking.

Andrew Jonash


I'll race ya to Statia

>> Friday, February 22, 2013

After spending three days anchored in Oranjestad Bay, St. Eustatius (a dependency of the Netherlands), we are sailing towards Guadeloupe. Our time spent on Statia was both brief and incredible. During our stay on the island, we observed the many oil freighters that lumber into the harbor with their cargo. The massive ships dock at “Statia Terminals,” the oil storage and distribution center that Statia is perhaps best known for today. We also snorkeled on the reef in the bay, collecting data samples, which will tell us if the reef is healthy, or not. We explored town as well, walking past the famous “Fort Orange” which protected the island from invasion during European colonization. The most notable activity we did during our time on St. Eustatius was hiking “the Quill.
            The Quill, which means pit in Dutch, is a 601-meter tall dormant volcano, which dominates the Southern half of the island. The caldera of the Quill, having been inactive for many years, has filled in with dense jungle creating a kind of bowl, which cradles a unique ecosystem. The trailhead to the Quill trail is at the top of town. Therefore, you have to hike up through the village and neighborhoods to reach it. This first section of the hike was interesting because we got the chance to see how the St. Eustatius locals actually live. Many of the houses are made out of cement blocks and are painted with bright colors, and bordered by chain-link fences. They all face out toward the shimmering Caribbean Sea.
            Our hike from the neighborhood to the volcano’s rim was packed with wildlife. The amount of flora and fauna on the Quill is immense. We saw several snakes, hanging plants, which grow in the air attached to the trees, many chickens and an abundance of hermit crabs. These crabs are born in the sea, climb on land, ascend the mountain, and then during a full moon they roll back down to the sea, completing their life cycle.
            When at last we reached the summit, the vista was spectacular. Not only could we see the town of Oranjestad, Statia terminals, and the islands small landing strip, but also we saw the Harvey Gamage at anchor in the bay. For me, the reality of Ocean Classroom set in while staring down at the dot in the harbor, which is our home for the next three and a half months. Our time in St. Eustatius got me even more excited for the rest of the trip and I hope that the rest of the stops along the way will be as awesome and interesting as Statia was.

Alex Paige


The Docile Dinosaur

>> Thursday, February 21, 2013

On February 14th we (all the students, the educators, and a few adventurous crew members) set out onto Saint Eustatius to hike the Quill. The Quill is a dormant volcano- it looks like a mountain that someone took an ice cream scooper to the top of. The hike was beautiful, but a little too hot for my liking (I guess that's what I get for taking a trip to the Caribbean). The trail wound back and forth up the lucscious mountainside and was littered with exotic wildlife. At least every few minutes, I spotted another dry land hermit crab. They are peculiar little buggers about the size of a golfball and all red and purple. I also saw a red bellied racer snake and some unidentified local insects all blue with orange tentacles. The most astounding animal I encountered, however, was a rooster. He was at the very top of the mountain, a good 45 minute walk. He was certainly not the least bit shy, and seemed friendly enough. That is, until we pulled out our lunches. The instant he saw our food, he channeled his inner dinosaur and turned into the most tenacious food thief I have ever seen. He could give my dog lessons. In his attempts to steal our delicious PB-n-J sandwiches, he went so far as to hop onto Cameron's lap and try to peck the sandwich out of his hand (Happy Birthday Cameron!). Soon, however, we developed a strategy to repel his assaults; any time he came near, we would show him the underside of our feet in his face. This carried on for a few minutes with him approaching each of us in turn to find a weak link, until Mira arrived. Mira, who had been admiring the wonders of the rain forest had lagged a little behind, but when she arrived she approached our feathered terrorizer and without hestitation scooped him up in her arms. In a matter of seconds, she turned the fearless theif into a docile lap-pet. Then, calmly as ever, she ate her lunch with the lttle bugger tucked under one arm.

Joe Newlin


A trip to the Baths

>> Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A trip to the Baths

Rock walls press close in the space around me. The huge grey giants balance tediously on one another and look like they are about to give way at any second. Above, cracks of sunlight sneak in, putting a spotlight on the smooth, hard walls of rocks. I run through the maze of foot-wide passages between rocks bigger than houses. My feet splash in the inch of water that covers the sandy floor. This magical world that should only appear on the set of a movie is the Baths.

Anchored in the bay of Virgin Gorda, the Schooner Harvey Gamage is now a place that 21 new students call home. We are all rapidly learning the language, concept and lifestyle of sailing. We went ashore to explore this part of the British Virgin Islands as a field trip for science class. It was so awesome! The huge healthy reef at the Baths provided an excellent snorkeling opportunity. Dazzling fish of every color of the rainbow swam by, tickling my feet. Solitary groupers sulked in the shadows of the reef, refusing to look any snorkeler in the eye. Schools of minnows crowded the surface of the water, ready to leap out and evade any predators. When it was time to leave the paradise island, everyone loaded back up on board and we sailed into the sunset, anxiously awaiting our next adventure.

Anna Spring


A Letter Home

Dear interested readers and parents, 

I have never dreamed of something so beautiful in my life. 
Every place we go is different in its own way. I never want to leave each amazing place but I am excited to see what the next place has to offer. Living on this ship is proving to be harder than I had expected, but it is worth it because of all the things that we see, the places we go and the life long friends that we meet along the way. It is only the first week, and I have already 
seen and experienced things that I never thought I could. I don't think that I would have had the chance to do this if it wasn't for this ship. I love the trip so far and I love the kids that are experiencing it with me. I can't wait to see what will lie on the next horizon or moutaintop. Mom and Dad, I love you, and will write to you soon.

John Carter


A New World

A New World

Hi Mom, Dad and Gwyneth! I miss you guys, and also wanted to say hello to all the other parents and siblings. Your kids will be posting something at some point, don’t worry. They could only post three at a time…I really wanted to volunteer as one of the first because, like some others on the ship, all of this is very, very new to me. For starters, we are expected to completely forget about everything happening in the outside world, forget about our phones, ipods, disconnect from even our friends and family. As much as it is part of the experience, there literally isn’t any time for sentiment anyway. We have to adapt to this entirely new lifestyle. Aside from the occasional seasickness that most of us have gone through, we all have been taking this transition incredibly well; learning the lines and commands, staying up for hours in the middle of the night for watch and often during the occasional squall, when we all learned that even the Caribbean can get quite cold. Nevertheless, these hardships (and I speak for everyone here) cannot compare to the reward we all get of the incredible beauty of this ocean, the stars at night during our watches, and not only the islands, but their culture and history we learn about (and in some cases get to be a part of). It has only been a week and a half, and we have already gone snorkeling three times, learned about some of the history and culture of the Caribs, and even helped re-paint a handmade wood canoe that was sailed around the Caribbean islands to bring back a sense of pride, meaning and spirit of the near extinct Carib people. We have dissected a flying fish that “flew” on board and hit Sarah around midnight during A watches’ late night watch. I was sleeping but I’m sure it was quite funny. I learned about corals and fish that we have actually seen on our snorkeling trips, along with other stuff that is directly related to what we are doing and seeing. Honestly, all schools should be like this. I wish I could keep writing but we just got to port at St. Eustatius after a long three days at sea and I need to help bring down the sails. I can’t wait to see everyone in Charleston, at the same time I hope time goes by as slow as possible. Also, Dad, I need a new harmonica please! Mine got all salty and out of tune and I was just getting good too…sort of.

Elias Giangrande


>> Monday, February 11, 2013

In early February, twenty-one students joined Harvey Gamage crew and educators in St. Thomas where they begin their 4-month semester at sea. Check out the pictures of students and crew and be sure to follow their voyage on iBoat Track.Stay tuned for images of the crew aboard Virginia.

A Watch: Mr. Leathers, Chief Mate; Parker Gassett, Deckhand; Diane Sternburg - Literature/Head Educator; students: Ben, Cameron, Clayton, Alex, Sarah, Hila, & John

A Watch striking a silly pose

B Watch: Mr. Klodenski - 2nd Mate; Timba, Deckhand; Pamela Ugor, Educator, Caribbean & Maritime History; students: Luca, Diego, Andrew, Teagan, Myron, Chelsea & Cassidy

B Watch striking a silly pose
C Watch: Mr. Alvin, 3rd Mate; Blythe Brugger, Deckhand & 2008 Alumni; Phil Thompson, Educator, Marine Science; students: Joe, Thomas, Carter, Hayden, Mira, Elias & Anna
C Watch striking a silly pose

Esteemed Capt. Christopher Flansburg
Our fabulous cook, Pierre Cornell


The readiness is all (or a note on the "reduction of variables")

>> Sunday, February 3, 2013

The readiness is all  (or a note on the ”reduction of variables”)

   You fly down to the USVI to join an old friend, the Harvey Gamage. She is a Schooner, two masts, gaff rigged, built of wood and dreams. How many hundreds (thousands?) have crossed her decks? How many sea miles under her keel?  She sits there, seeming exactly the same as she always is, ready to go. But having been here before, you know that no matter who the last captain was, there will be many, many things to do.
   Several crew members who are new to OCF are busy training up and bringing online OCF policies, teachings, and philosophies.  There is also fuel, water, food (people fuel), and other supplies to buy. The educators work hard getting things organized. After all, it’s a high school and schools need books, science gear, paper, tools…
     How to get it all done? Well, first we never do it on our own. There’s the office (Thanks Office!), the other ships in the fleet, the local suppliers. Then it’s organized chaos.  The list never gets shorter.  There’s always something to improve, one more thing to buy, more paint, more food, more filters for the generator. Figuring all this out is what we refer to as “The reduction of variables,” so that everything that can be controlled is. What about those that we cannot control? Well, that is what we train for, the unexpected, so that when it happens, (and it will), we can deal with it in a serious professional manner.
   No matter how long you have to prepare, there will always be something “wrong,” something undone, something you cannot get, and something you forget.
   So finally the students arrive and the ship is as ready as you can make her. So you raise anchor and away you go. And the ship does her best and you do yours.  No one can ask for more or hope for more.
    That is what sailing is all about. Dealing with immediate consequences and learning from them.
This is of course why we are all here: to learn from the Sea, The Ship, and our Shipmates.

   Fair winds. Captain Flansburg


Total Pageviews

  © Free Blogger Templates Skyblue by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP