Proctor Academy's historic winter Ocean Classroom program joining Proctor students with students from the MET School of Providence, Rhode Island continues their adventure at sea. After two weeks of managing COVID-19 ashore, the Harvey Gamage returned to the open waters, with students aboard.
The life-changing experiences taking place during this semester at sea program extend well beyond learning of maritime history, navigation, biology, and seamanship skills. It is in the personal relationships, the learning - deeply - about each other and each other's backgrounds that the real learning is taking place for students on this program. Read student reflections on the past few weeks below.
Hank ‘22 / Proctor Academy
Sometimes the things that you dread the most, or are most nervous about, end up being the most fun. This was the case for me about five days ago. After spending almost a week sailing around Charleston Harbor and figuring out some final logistics for the trip, we finally untied the dock lines and headed out for the open ocean. It was nice to begin a new adventure, but the thought of four hour deck watches and the possibility of sea sickness stayed in the back of my mind. After clearing the last jetty we were finally there, the ocean, nothing blocking the swells from slamming into the boat. The weather was fair, a little cold, but great for sailing. We ate dinner, and then when 8 rolled around it was time for B watch to take control of the deck until 12am. It was very cold and windy. Most of us had just about all of our clothes on because we were anticipating “Florida Weather” and not this. As watch went on, the swells got bigger, about 5-6 feet, and almost half of our watch was seasick. Thankfully I discovered that I am not someone who gets seasick. As I had the helm, trying to stay on course and stay balanced as the boat rocked, I could see the stars and the moon reflecting off of the water. Beautiful scenery along with good conversation with my watch turned four hours that I was dreading into one of my favorite memories of this trip so far.
Lucy ‘22 / Proctor Academy
This weekend was filled with class excursions, beach trips, sunset reflections, and a lot of time to get to know Brunswick, Georgia! Starting our weekend with a Saturday trip to a turtle sanctuary, led to Sunday reflections on the pros and cons of human intervention in wildlife and the haunting past swept under the rug at Jekyll Island. After almost two weeks aboard the Harvey Gamage, we have explored lots of historic Southern towns and learned how to better critically think about America’s history - the good, bad, and ugly. With a couple weeks behind us we are all settling in, learning the ropes, and getting slightly more used to the rocky sleep schedule. Some time underway on the high sea gave us a new appreciation for sunsets, dolphins, and time to run around ashore! Looking forward to warmer weather in the Keys.
Mason ‘22 / Proctor Academy
My day started off with a wake up at 0340. I was lucky enough to sleep all the way through the night after watch last night from 1600-2000. Although last night’s watch had plenty of wind, we had slowed to 2 knots by the time B watch had the deck again. Turn of the watch consists of getting up on deck ten minutes before your watch takes the deck, and mustering with the off-going watch. During muster you tell the oncoming watch if there’s anything important they should know before taking the deck. Last night A watch told us that the wind had died, and that we were waiting for daylight before approaching the entrance to the channel. Captain said the channel was a tricky one to navigate, so it was best to wait for high tide. While on watch, responsibilities include doing hourly boat checks, standing lookout, or being at the helm. Boat checks are the biggest chore, and take about 20 minutes to complete. It’s super important to report weather and bilge levels so you can track progressions. Your watch group is the group you spend the most time with. Even over the past few weeks, watch groups have definitely gotten immensely closer and have gotten into good rhythms while on deck.
Connor ‘22 / Proctor Academy
Right now, we have Brunswick at our rudder and are thrilled for adventures to come. Our crew is incomplete, all the other trainees and everyone that were not infected with Covid had to drive to St. Augustine, Florida. So we headed down the coast to Cumberland Island. We were able to have a little beach bonfire, while chowing down sausages and s’mores. We saw the wildlife around us like the hundreds of wild horses and armadillos. We met with Professor Captain Jeffrey Bolster, the author of Black Jacks, who answered questions we had. Our transit to St. Augustine wasn’t as smooth as our previous sails. Upon arrival we saw our quarantined sailors at the end of the deck waiting for us to permit them aboard. We spent the night talking about what we had done apart over games of rummy and 5-card stud. We’re all excited to make more memories together.
Daisy / The MET School of Providence
There is never a dull day on this boat. I have some good days and some really bad days, but never a dull one. I’m either always learning or just always doing something, like right now, instead of napping I am writing this blog post. When I was offered this opportunity in an email all I can think about is how much of an amazing learning experience it is and how it’d be a privilege to be able to go to states I’ve never been to before, and it is. This boat has already brought me memories I know I’ll cherish forever and some bonds that I’ll always keep with me. There are some hard days of course, I miss my parents and friends all the time, the lines and terms seem impossible to learn, and sometimes I just really want to go home. But, this boat has taught me resilience and to try and make hard things fun. When I’m with my friends I forget about the stress and I kind of just live in the moment. Being on this boat is a privilege and a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am very grateful to be here.
Annika ‘22 / Proctor Academy
The day started with a wave of excitement filling the boat, as we woke up to the sound of Asher telling us we were going to spend the day in St. Augustine. We were quick to finish breakfast and completed morning chores in about half the time as normal. The group was shuttled to shore where we explored the next four hours. I had the best coffee in what felt like months, and sat down for a second breakfast while watching the bizarre people of Florida. We admired the mix of touristy, modern, shops centered around a bunch of historical Spanish buildings. The time flew by and we met back as a group and headed back for the boat for class. We had a guest speaker Jeffrey Bolster, a historian and professor at UNH who discussed the history of slavery with us. He delved into the underlying truth of the history, and challenges our perspectives of the matter. We had a little rest time and ate one of our favorite meals - grilled cheese and tomato soup - for dinner. It was a really chilly night but we threw on our best dressed after eating and gathered in the galley for coffee house night. Until 2100 we sang shantys, listened to songs and stories together, and all hung out.