Daily Prompt: Toy Story- Sea Snark

Daily Prompt:Toy Story–Β What was your favorite plaything as a child? Do you see any connection between your life now, and your favorite childhood toy?

I’m not sure if my sea snark qualifies as a toy but playing with it (sailing) was my favorite thing to do while I was growing up (other than reading).

I used to take my little sailboat our almost every day, usually after school. Sometimes, I would even sail it TO school πŸ™‚

Made out of Styrofoam, it was indestructible. Unlike the Titanic, it was actually unsinkable πŸ™‚ We DID test that quite regularly πŸ˜‰

I had SO much fun with that little boat. πŸ™‚ I would go by myself. I would take out my friends. My brother would run circles around me with his outboard powered dingy, but I didn’t care. I always loved just sailing. Letting the wind drive me where I wanted to go. It was so engaging, so peaceful, so enjoyable. I STILL love sailing and go out every chance I can.

As a kid, I never would have imagined that I would wind up ‘sailing’ for a living (that’s what we call shipping out- ‘sailing’). I was on track to be a doctor back then. My grandparents were both pharmacists. My fathers mother was one of the first female pharmacists in the state of NY πŸ™‚ (I definitely take after her) πŸ˜‰ I made straight A’s in school and I did love studying all my subjects in class, especially math and science.

What happened was: I got sick and tired of taking the same classes over and over again in school. For example, I had been taking algebra since at least 5th grade. I always made straight A’s. I just couldn’t see the point of taking it AGAIN in 9th grade.

So, I started skipping those classes that I’d already taken. I was still making good grades. I could still keep up with the work. After all, I HAD already taken those classes (more than once). I’ll never understand why parents put up with the school systems dumbing down their kids so much!

Eventually, my family got tired of hearing about my transgressions from the school district. My grandmother decided I needed to go to a boarding school, to keep me from skipping πŸ˜‰ Well, I give her credit. She tried. She really did.

Along with my Aunt Helen, my grandmother and I went on a road trip from Freeport NY, up through Niagara Falls (loved the Maid of the Mist) into Canada. We came back down through the Detroit area (went to a concert there- grandma wore earplugs πŸ™‚ ). Visited family friends near Chicago. Stopped at a dozen fancy schools before we made it back to NY.

I have to admit, I was a total BITCH the entire trip. I didn’t want to go to any fancy-schmantzy rich kid boarding school! I would never fit in. I liked my life the way it was. I loved my town where I grew up and I could spend my days hanging out with my friends on the beach. Sailing, swimming, fishing, even sometimes jumping off the bridge to let the current carry me out to the Gulf so I could swim back in πŸ˜‰

Yeah, I was also hanging out at the amusement parlor and the pool halls, sometimes the bars πŸ˜‰ I was drinking and other things I wasn’t supposed to be doing.

It was really a lucky stroke of fate what happened when my grandmother got me back to her place in Freeport. She was so fed up with me after that search for an acceptable school for both me and her, she took me to the library and threw the book at me. Literally! She told me that it was a book listing ALL the accredited schools in the country and if I could find one in there that I liked, I could go there.

The book landed on a table in front of me. Opened to a page with a picture of a square-rigged ship in full sail. I was hooked! I grabbed that book and started reading that thing like my life depended on it (turned out it really did in a way).

The book gave details: the Oceanics School (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1310&dat=19720827&id=nN1VAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5eADAAAAIBAJ&pg=6581,6541976). Based in New York City, the school would charter these large traditional sailing ships for months long cruises with their students aboard. The ship sailed around the world and the students learned to operate the ship. They held classes on navigation, seamanship, oceanography, cultural studies and languages of all the countries the ship visited.

I was so excited. I told my grandmother “that’s it!”. That’s the one I want to go to!! She was aghast!! She told me “no way”. “No way are you going to ruin your life with those damn boats like your father did!!” Up til he bought his dream boat, the “Island Girl”, my father was an engineer. A ‘respectable’ professional career man. My grandmother would never forgive the Island Girl for my fathers decision to quit the corporate world.

When I got home and told my dad about the Oceanics school, he was almost as happy about it as I was. He said “you’re going”, and “while we’re at it, we’ll send your brother too”! “You can’t skip school when you’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean” πŸ˜‰ So, soon enough my brother and I were off to sail around the world. We had some absolutely fantastic adventures sailing the 3- masted schooner Ariadne from Athens to Martinique!

That trip changed my life. I returned without my brother to sail the Ariadne again from Martinique back across the Atlantic. I had some incredible experiences with some wonderful people. It DID change my life.

I will be forever grateful to the Gallaghers (especially Stephanie) who took a chance on me and then helped me SO much. Even after I graduated from the Oceanics, Stephanie was instrumental in getting me set up in the Ocean Marine Technology program in Texas that got me started on the way to earning my license.

Because of the chance to go to the Oceanics, I am STILL sailing. Almost 35 years later. Β πŸ™‚ I recently upgraded to Master Any Gross Tons and can sail pretty much any ship on the ocean. I still love the traditional sailing ships best but there just aren’t enough of them around to make a living on. Too bad 😦

So, yeah, you could say my favorite plaything when I was young is still my favorite plaything now. πŸ™‚

Here are a couple of great links. The first one is by Tim Harris of the ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl which he sailed on as a cadet with the Oceanics in the early 70s. The next one is of the same ship in a storm. The last is a link to the ship itself, in case you’re interested in sailing her πŸ˜‰




PS- the featured photo is one I took at the Maritime Day celebration in Galveston last month. The ship in the background is one of the ones I sailed as captain on (Ensco 8500 series). I started with the sea snarks and worked my way up to those!

PPS- I forgot to add that I posted this to Terri Webster Schrandt’s Leisure Link the other day. She has a cool blog, this is the first time I’ve seen the leisure link. I’ve seen these blog ‘parties’ before but still not sure I’ve got the hang of it. Check it out over there and join in. πŸ™‚


15 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Toy Story- Sea Snark

    • Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that one too. It sounds fantastic. I’m sure you must have some great stories from that one too. I think it’s a great way to see the world and a great way to get an education. I’d like to see it become more available. I know the one you went on is very expensive. Mine too, my brother got a scholarship so we got something like a 2 for the price of 1 deal or neither one of us could have gone.


  1. Jill, this is too cool! How fun for you! Your hobby and passion for boats became your “serious leisure.” Perhaps next Sunday, you would link this post to my The Leisure Link link-up. The party closed today at 6pm. Watch for a post next Sunday πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Lisa for your sweet comment. I just checked out your blog and I am a huge admirer of your ability to just go ahead and follow your dreams, no matter what. I’ll be following your adventures from here while I keep trying to find a way to make my own!
      I can picture the clear blue water and beautiful skies over there. Wishing I was there instead of here in Angola, but I still haven’t found a way to quit work. Hoping to find a different way to live soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello, I am glad to have found you through the Leisure Link! I love sailing too, and boats in general. I love that little sailboat in the first picture. We just moved to a lake and are wanting to buy a little sailboat- just big enough for us and a couple friends. I hope you will live your dream- that Ocean school sounds amazing. We have to live our own lives, not the life someone else wants for us. You will never be happy living your family’s dream! Michele

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, nice to ‘meet’ you! Check out the sea snarks, they’re great little boats.
      Yes, the Oceanics was a fantastic experience! I wish they were still around. i see some other sailing programs have started up, but they don’t last very long so not nearly the same experience.


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