This post's title is a play on the fact that Ocean Classroom sailed into the Mystic River (CT) this morning (where I am visiting them,) and the Program Director--Dave Pilla--is known to be an accomplished rock singer whose rendition of Van Morrison's "Into The Mystic" is becoming legendary.
Ocean Classroom's schooner Harvey Gamage rode this morning's high tide over the harbor bar at eight hours this morning, and docked at Mystic Seaport Museum, one of fourteen educational stops on its way to Puerto Rico. I arrived at Mystic a few hours later, and was offered images off of science teacher Jason Childers' memory card which take us back to Wednesday in Gloucester, their port of embarkation. We begin with real-life interview of a proud fisherman aboard his trawler.
This was followed by an oceanography/biology study of rocky tidal pools, which students assure me was "awesome."
After spending two nights at anchor in Gloucester's outer harbor, our intrepid crew set off into light southerly winds Wednesday, with a port-of-call of Mystic, Connecticut set for Sunday (today). The fact that dock space at Mystic was firmly scheduled prompted use of the "iron mainsail" (diesel engine) to round Cape Cod.
So I drove to Mystic this morning, bought my pass to Mystic Seaport Museum (they gave me a break on the entry fee when I told them what I was doing, and mentioned the fact that their schooner L.A. Dunton was designed by my great-grandfather) and boarded the ship at thirteen hours, as they lunched on fish sticks and popcorn.
I went about the business of interviewing students. It turns out that they had a great sail into light chop last night, which caused two kids to puke overboard; (Andrew also hurled into a bag while in his bunk in the fo'c'sle, but the bag had two holes in it....a mistake he will not repeat.) I asked kids to rate their experience on a scale of one-to-ten, and everyone agreed on a ten. Mike, the First Mate, called a muster for B-Watch at the stern to coordinate lunch clean-up.
Here's what struck me: at Proctor, kids sometimes grumble about things like dish duty (advisee groups managing dishwasher processes for one day every six or seven weeks,) but on a ship where everyone is invested in a common goal, no one would ever dream of whining about duties; it is their privilege to make things work. Individuals sacrificing for the team is a joy.
Moriah declared, "Already, I feel that been here forever, and I don't want it to ever end."
My other insight is that kids are working their butts off on academic preparation. One team of students prepared a lecture/discussion on the history of Mystic, Connecticut, and the evolution of the Mystic Seaport Museum. This was followed by a talk on the history of the whaling industry by a Williams College professor. Tonight, they attend the viewing of a documentary film at the Seaport Museum.
This afternoon, the crew broke into watch groups and toured the Seaport Museum. There was time to hack.
The members of B-watch insisted that they are the luckiest kids in the world to have this experience. I don't know that anyone will dispute that contention.
The moment students recognized me on the dock, they demanded representation on the Corner.....
Eli cleaning pots and pans in the galley. No one complains about duties on Ocean Classroom.
Denning brings extra ice tea back to the cooler after lunch.
Ryan proudly showed me his bunk, immediately above Hunter's. The prayer flags are working. Everything smells of mildew.
Dan--part of the professional crew--climbs to execute a daily inspection of rigging aloft. Safety of the ship is job #1.
Jeremy recreates (or anticipates?) a harrowing moment at the helm...
A ukelele is a must on a boat!
On shore for the first time in five days--and looking forward to a fresh water shower--Ryan photographs an antique auto parade.
Tourists hover over the schooner. "Are you folks going for a sail?" Andrew: "Yes, we are."