Proctor’s Winter Ocean Classroom program is in transit from St. Augustine, Florida to the Florida to Key West and the Dry Tortugas. The program brings twelve Proctor students together with seven students from the MET School in Providence, Rhode Island for a one of a kind immersion learning experience at sea. As the group continues their voyage, students reflect on the learning - both in their classes and in their daily life aboard Schooner Harvey Gamage. Read more from Rex below:
Hello, Ocean Classroom has been interesting. I’m Rex, and I’ve been voluntold to do a blog post about the boat that I’ve been excitedly learning about. We have many chores and responsibilities such as boat checks, logged hourly, which include checking areas of the boat that are vulnerable to ocean water trickling in. We are also required to check the condition of our six-cylinder John Deere engine, including its amps and volts levels. This is required of us to make sure the boat isn’t taking on water and see how the weather is changing. This responsibility is interesting in its own way because it is about survival not how we live which is different from many other chores on land.
Sailing has a special philosophy behind it, and so far, I’ve loved learning about it. The simple tasks of navigation like tacking and gybing are about turning the boat around the wind to keep moving in the direction we need to go. This simple task becomes much more complicated as we move into as big a ship as the Harvey Gamage is. The Harvey Gamage is a tall ship which means that it is a traditional sailing vessel. This traditional style of ship makes for many problems that we have learned to solve with time.
Life on the boat is not without surprises. My favorite of these surprises has been whales. In our favor, yesterday we were able to sight a pod of whales. The prettiest of them all was when a right whale majestically poked its tail out of the water right next to the ship. Whales are not the only animals that have been sighted on the Harvey Gamage, dolphins are another animal that was very abundant near our first port, and while similar to whales they are very unique and playful animals. Out of all the animals the ship has seen in these past two weeks my favorite of all is very small, micro in size, bioluminescent plankton that live in most oceans, they are interesting to me because they interact with being shaken or moved abruptly. This movement causes them to light up with a bright blue green light that brightens every wave break.
Another beautiful light source that brightens the night is the stars. Many Proctor students have seen bright stars out because we have some right on our lovely campus, however it is a whole other ball game on the Harvey Gamage. Every night the stars light up the entire sky, splattering it with beautiful spots of glistening light and a stunning view. Though the stars are pretty we have been learning some practical use of the stars. Many know what celestial navigation is but for the people who don’t, celestial navigation is the use of stars to find where you are in the world. An interesting fact that I learned about navigation this way is how easy it truly is. A simple start is the north star. As everybody knows, the world spins around an axis once every day. And on this axis, there is a north and south pole. Thankfully, a simple way to find north is right below the north star. It is located right above the axis meaning that it always is generally facing north.