O is for Oceanics- #AtoZChallenge

O” is for the Oceanics. That was such a fantastic experience! I’m so thankful I had that opportunity at such a young age. It really did change my life.

The Oceanics was a really special school. It was run by Chick and Stephanie Gallagher out of their apartment in New York City. They somehow managed to round up small groups of students and a few teachers and send them off on round the world adventures aboard various chartered square-rigged sailing ships.

I see a few organizations today trying to do something similar. Not the same tho, not gone long enough, not the right kind of ships, not the same atmosphere. I’m sure they’re still great experiences for anyone who is able to attend. I don’t think there’s any better way to create a confident, competent, creative, cooperative human being than the way they did it at the Oceanics.

Spending months at sea working together to sail the ship from point A to point B. Learning every aspect of how to do the job properly, we earned a sense of a job well done and self esteem. It takes a lot of teamwork and trust in each other to sail a square-rigged ship. Running up the ratlines to furl the sails in a squall with the wind howling and the ship rolling needs to be an immediate response with all hands on deck. Ask the worlds navies why they still use sailing ships as training vessels, they understand.

The ship was just one aspect of the Oceanics. Captain Jespersen was our sail training master. We spent time with him every day learning the names and functions of all the rigging and sails aboard. We sailed the ship from Pireaus, Greece across the Atlantic to Martinique. We spent our time aboard in school, taking regular classes in math, science (oceanology), world history, cultural studies, local languages (Greek, Spanish, Russian), literature, etc. We also learned seamanship, navigation, and how to take care of the ship.

We all stood watch when we weren’t in class. The traditional 4 hours on, 8 hours off. Standing lookout and tending the helm. In between, we kept busy sanding, varnishing, washing the decks, painting, tending to the rigging, splicing line, even helping the cook peel potatoes.

My favorite time aboard was standing lookout on the bow. Watching the dolphins play in the bow waves on a bright sunny day. Seeing flying fish popping out of a wave, to spread their ‘wings’ to fly across the waves before dropping back into the water. Picking out the constellations in a starry, starry night sky. 🙂

I can’t express how truly awesome it was.

And then, when we got to port we could go ashore once we were off watch. Or we might all go ashore together for an adventure. We spent a few days on the Greek island of Agistri hunting octopus for dinner and playing soccer on the beach. I spent a few days with a family in La Gomera (Canary Islands) improving my Spanish and learning more about the locals.

We sailed the schooner Ariadne across the Atlantic to Martinique. On arrival we had a well deserved break on the beach. A few of us hitched our way up the island to hike up Mt Pele. I still remember the deliciously sweet pineapples we had to snack on.

Ariadne

Ariadne

We left the Ariadne in Martinique to fly into Caracas and our South American adventure began. We had been studying Spanish since we left Italy. Now was the time to put it to use. Our plan was to travel from Venezuela to Bolivia, we would figure out the details along the way. We got into some really cool, out of the way places. 🙂

Plenty of the places we wound up had never seen anyone like us before. My red hair stood out like a torch, the locals would surround me and ask to feel it. Young Joe with his bright blond hair was extremely popular with the ladies. People didn’t know what to make of us.

We might show up in a group of 6-10 students (ages 14-21) and 1-2 teachers trying to keep us focused on our studies but also allowing us to get out on our own. We had lots of independent projects. I did one on comparing fairy tales in different cultures and another one identifying plankton I caught in a net on the way over to the Caribbean while we were still on the ship.

We made our way from Caracas through Venezuela to Cucuta, Columbia. From Bogata we headed to Ecuador. Quito, Otavalos, and Guyaquil. We took a boat out to the Galapagos to check out the wildlife and swim with the sea lions and iguanas. We made our way to the jungle and the rivers feeding the Amazon. We traveled down the Rio Napo to visit the indigenous shamans and learn about the plants and animals, (I had to try the ayuhuasca).

In Peru we made our way from Lima to Cuzco (fantastic) and took the train to Macchu Picchu. That was back before it was overrun by tourists. We stayed at the Banos (hot springs) alongside the river and soaked in the hot springs at night after hiking back down the mountain. Another experience I’ll never forget. That place was magical, I could feel it.

We made our way across Lake Titicaca to La Paz, Bolivia to finish up the semester. We were all sad to leave. I didn’t want to go home.

I returned to meet the Ariadne in Martinique a month later. I had another semester to finish high school. We sailed the Ariadne from Martinique to her home port in Hamburg, Germany. Our crossing was fine sailing. We even stopped for a swim in the mid-Atlantic ocean. 🙂

I was sent ahead with a small group to prepare our next vessel in Denmark. The Irish brigantine “Phoenix” was our home for the rest of our voyage. We spent months sailing around the Baltic, around the top of Denmark, to Sweden, Finland, and even spent a couple of weeks exploring the USSR from Leningrad (St Petersburg).

Our graduation ceremony was on the pier side in Copenhagen.  After another semester of overseas adventures at sea and ashore. It got in my blood and I’m sure I’ll never get over it.

I sure wish I had a better camera back then. Take a look here for some photos collected by Brian who was along for the trip with me and Tom. (who met me in Nicaragua). You can see me in a couple of the photos (in the yellow foul weather jacket by the cannon). 😉

A to Z: Oceanics

I should have saved this post for today’s A to Z challenge, but instead I’ll tell you about my high school- the Oceanics. That was such a fantastic experience! I’m so thankful I had that opportunity at such a young age. It really did change my life.

The Oceanics was a really special school. It was run by Chick and Stephanie Gallagher out of their apartment in New York City. They somehow managed to round up small groups of students and a few teachers and send them off on round the world adventures aboard various chartered square-rigged sailing ships.

I see a few organizations today trying to do something similar. Not the same tho, not gone long enough, not the right kind of ships, not the same atmosphere. I’m sure they’re still great experiences for anyone who is able to attend. I don’t think there’s any better way to create a confident, competent, creative, cooperative human being than the way they did it at the Oceanics.

Spending months at sea working together to sail the ship from point A to point B. Learning every aspect of how to do the job properly, we earned a sense of a job well done and self esteem. It takes a lot of teamwork and trust in each other to sail a square-rigged ship. Running up the ratlines to furl the sails in a squall with the wind howling and the ship rolling needs to be an immediate response with all hands on deck. Ask the worlds navies why they still use sailing ships as training vessels, they understand.

The ship was just one aspect of the Oceanics. Captain Jespersen was our sail training master. We spent time with him every day learning the names and functions of all the rigging and sails aboard. We sailed the ship from Pireaus, Greece across the Atlantic to Martinique. We spent our time aboard in school, taking regular classes in math, science (oceanology), world history, cultural studies, local languages (Greek, Spanish, Russian), literature, etc. We also learned seamanship, navigation, and how to take care of the ship.

We all stood watch when we weren’t in class. The traditional 4 hours on, 8 hours off. Standing lookout and tending the helm. In between, we kept busy sanding, varnishing, washing the decks, painting, tending to the rigging, splicing line, even helping the cook peel potatoes.

My favorite time aboard was standing lookout on the bow. Watching the dolphins play in the bow waves on a bright sunny day. Seeing flying fish popping out of a wave, to spread their ‘wings’ to fly across the waves before dropping back into the water. Picking out the constellations in a starry, starry night sky. 🙂

I can’t express how truly awesome it was.

And then, when we got to port we could go ashore once we were off watch. Or we might all go ashore together for an adventure. We spent a few days on the Greek island of Agistri hunting octopus for dinner and playing soccer on the beach. I spent a few days with a family in La Gomera (Canary Islands) improving my Spanish and learning more about the locals.

We sailed the schooner Ariadne across the Atlantic to Martinique. On arrival we had a well deserved break on the beach. A few of us hitched our way up the island to hike up Mt Pele. I still remember the deliciously sweet pineapples we had to snack on.

Ariadne

Ariadne

We left the Ariadne in Martinique to fly into Caracas and our South American adventure began. We had been studying Spanish since we left Italy. Now was the time to put it to use. Our plan was to travel from Venezuela to Bolivia, we would figure out the details along the way. We got into some really cool, out of the way places. 🙂

Plenty of the places we wound up had never seen anyone like us before. My red hair stood out like a torch, the locals would surround me and ask to feel it. Young Joe with his bright blond hair was extremely popular with the ladies. People didn’t know what to make of us.

We might show up in a group of 6-10 students (ages 14-21) and 1-2 teachers trying to keep us focused on our studies but also allowing us to get out on our own. We had lots of independent projects. I did one on comparing fairy tales in different cultures and another one identifying plankton I caught in a net on the way over to the Caribbean while we were still on the ship.

We made our way from Caracas through Venezuela to Cucuta, Columbia. From Bogata we headed to Ecuador. Quito, Otavalos, and Guyaquil. We took a boat out to the Galapagos to check out the wildlife and swim with the sea lions and iguanas. We made our way to the jungle and the rivers feeding the Amazon. We traveled down the Rio Napo to visit the indigenous shamans and learn about the plants and animals, (I had to try the ayuhuasca).

In Peru we made our way from Lima to Cuzco (fantastic) and took the train to Macchu Picchu. That was back before it was overrun by tourists. We stayed at the Banos (hot springs) alongside the river and soaked in the hot springs at night after hiking back down the mountain. Another experience I’ll never forget. That place was magical, I could feel it.

We made our way across Lake Titicaca to La Paz, Bolivia to finish up the semester. We were all sad to leave. I didn’t want to go home.

I returned to meet the Ariadne in Martinique a month later. I had another semester to finish high school. Our graduation ceremony was on the pier side in Copenhagen.  Another semester of overseas adventures at sea and ashore. It got in my blood and I’m sure I’ll never get over it.

I sure wish I had a better camera back then. Take a look here for some photos collected by Brian who was along for the trip with me and T. (who met me in Nicaragua). You can see me in a couple of the photos (in the yellow foul weather jacket by the cannon). 😉

Sail Away

Like I said yesterday for the Daily Post’s prompt, I have more than 1 favorite quote. Quotes that inspire me. Quotes that I wish I could follow more closely. All of my favorite quotes have the same theme. They’re all related in some way or another to FREEDOM.

Yesterdays was about the freedom of a ship at sea. There’s nothing else like it. You’re out there in your own little world. You have to deal with your fellow shipmates, the ship itself, and the surrounding environment. It really is special.

Today, I’d like to share another favorite. I love this quote by Mark Twain (he used to be a riverboat pilot). It really speaks to me, more and more as I get older and more fearful. Also more aware of time passing by. I’ve been wanting to leave the US and travel the world ever since I went to school with the Oceanics when I was a teenager.

I’ve spent my entire life at sea, trying to have those same kinds of experiences again. But the world at sea has changed SO much since then. They’ve taken all the fun and enjoyment out of it. Now, it’s pretty much just another job.

I still love the time off it offers. It gave me plenty of opportunity to travel on my time off. I did, every chance I got. Whenever I had the money and I wasn’t spending my time off in ‘training’, I would take a trip somewhere.

I started investigating what it would take for me to move overseas and found out that I would not be able to do that until I was old enough to retire (or won the lottery).

I don’t have the resources it would take to start a business, which is actually a good option in a lot of places, but I could not find a single country that would allow me to move there and WORK to support myself for the time it would take to become a citizen. The only option left was to teach English.

So, I started looking into learning how to teach English. I was never really very serious about it. I was still able to work offshore and the pay differential is just HUGE. I was able to earn more in 1 day at sea than I would earn as a teacher in a month (or even 2 months)!

So, I continued working and traveling when I could on my time off. Too fearful to take the plunge and just GO. I would never have hesitated when I was younger. I knew then (and I know now) that I could find something to do that would allow me to travel and spend time in a place I liked. Back then, I would never have let worries about not having a work visa stop me from taking whatever opportunities offered.

I know there are people all over the world working under the table as bartenders, waiters, baby-sitters, time-share salesmen, etc. I know I could do a lot of those jobs too. But I’ve been letting my fears stop me from doing anything about my desire to get out of here!

I hate the idea of being forced to give up my chosen livelihood. I really still love working at sea, sailing for a living. I don’t want to give it up and never would have by choice.

So I guess it’s a good thing for me that the price of oil is so low that there is no hope of work for the foreseeable future. If there was, I would still be sitting here at home, spending most of my time applying for non-existent jobs and hoping for a phone call.

Since I finally admitted to myself that there IS no hope, I could finally force myself into signing up for the TEFL course and probably even spending some time afterwards in a foreign country.

I am still fearful, nervous and depressed, but I’m throwing off those lines anyway. 🙂

This is also a post for the Just Jot It January challenge. 🙂

Daily Prompt: Toy Story- Sea Snark

Daily Prompt:Toy Story– 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 🙂

Made out of Styrofoam, it was indestructible. Unlike the Titanic, it was actually unsinkable 🙂 We DID test that quite regularly 😉

I had SO much fun with that little boat. 🙂 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 🙂 (I definitely take after her) 😉 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 😉 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 🙂 ). 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 😉

Yeah, I was also hanging out at the amusement parlor and the pool halls, sometimes the bars 😉 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” 😉 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.  🙂 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. 🙂

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 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=iokDVlHybtE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_YWgRBmVtY

www.lehmkuhl.no

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. 🙂

111 Feet Up–Climbing the Main Mast of a Fully-Rigged Tall Ship … at 9 Knots

I got this post from Gcaptain a while ago and was going to post on my blog about it. Indian Rocks Bridge beat me to it, so I’ll just re-blog. 🙂

PS: Indian Rocks bridge (not the blogger, but the actual bridge) is located very close to where I lived when we first moved to FL. I spent a lot of time at the shipyard there working on our schooner the Island Girl.

On another note, the Oceanics School (where I went to high school) used the Sorlandet for their school ship after I graduated. SO sorry I missed it!

Indian Rocks Bridge

Here’s a video posted by Norway’s Stiftelsen Fullriggeren Sørlandet academy showing first-person view of a climb up the main mast of the world’s oldest full-rigged tall ship Sørlandet.…MORE

Photo:

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Travel Is The Best Teacher

More Affordable Than University, Travel Is The Best Teacher.

Here’s another great post from the Dollar Vigilante. They always have a lot of great information on their website. I’ve been a subscriber for a while now.

I really couldn’t agree more with his post. I’ve been a traveler since I was born. 🙂

My father used to work as an engineer (before he said the hell with it all and started fishing). 🙂

He used to take on contract jobs for all the big firms. Sperry, Northrup Grumman, Corning, etc. I remember living in Boston, Rochester, Syracuse, Phoenix, LA, El Paso. Lots of other places in between I don’t remember. I was born in Minneapolis. My brother was born in East Hampton (we were staying on grandpas boat).

For a while we all  lived in one of those old style cab over campers. Mom, dad, me, my little brother, the dog and the cat. We would live at a campground for a few months at most while dad did whatever job he was contracted to do.

We finally settled down in Florida. My dad took a job with Honeywell. Maybe because it was time for me to start school. I really don’t know for sure. My dad found the love of his life, (the schooner Island Girl), and my parents got divorced.

By then the travel bug was in my veins and I’ve been infected for life! I LOVE to travel!!

My grandmother did too. She was always off somewhere interesting and exciting and she would bring us little presents when she came to visit. Sometimes I was lucky enough to go with her.

I remember one time she took me skiing in Aspen Colorado. I was about 13. I had a blast! Another time she took me (along with her sisters) on a long road trip to pick out a boarding school for me. (I was a bad girl)

I refused them all. I just didn’t think I would fit in at any of them.

Good thing for me! I wound up going to school with the Oceanics out of New York City instead of any of those nice, fancy, expensive schools my grandmother wanted for me.

That experience changed my life forever. I wound up sailing around the world on large traditional sailing ships. I LOVED it!!I decided I wanted to be a ship captain, sail around the world and get paid for it. My grandmother never got over that I didn’t want to be a doctor anymore.

I wanted to keep sailing and traveling and never go home. I did wind up staying after for a while. I tried to find a job working my way back home on a ship. I was only 16 and didn’t have any seamans’ papers yet, so that didn’t work out very well. 😦

I wound up talking my way into a position on board an old Thames sailing barge in London. The CIV was the name of it.

I had a blast!! The guys on there were such a fun group. I was supposed to cook and keep the place clean while they got it ready to sail across the Atlantic to the US. I don’t know if they ever made it. I had to fly back to the US before they got it ready. 😦

I learned so much on that trip. MUCH more than I ever could have or would have learned in any kind of normal classroom environment.

We had class on the ship. We learned about things like navigation and seamanship. We learned them by DOING them. Most things we learned outside of class. For example, I learned how to work as part of a team. I learned to be a good shipmate and how everyone on board is there for a good reason and just as important as anyone else there.

We had to keep a journal (good practice). We also had a class called ‘cultural studies’. When we went ashore we learned about the countries and the people we visited. We learned the languages of the countries we were due to visit.

I learned how to communicate better, sometimes even non-verbally. I learned how to be flexible and more accepting of how things were instead of how I thought they should be.

I learned how other people dealt with the same kinds of things we do at home but in their own ways. I learned that my way (or my countrys’ way) was not always the best way.

I learned that most people are basically the same, wherever they live, they all want/need the same basic things… food, water, love, connection, a home, etc. We’re not all that different. 🙂

I learned there is such a great, big, wonderful world out there. I learned about myself that I never want to stop learning and exploring.

Travel is SUCH a great teacher, in so many ways. I encourage anyone and everyone to get out there and DO IT! 🙂

Daily Prompt: Toy Story- Sea Snark

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

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/daily-prompt-memento/

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 🙂

Made out of Styrofoam, it was indestructible. Unlike the Titanic, it was actually unsinkable 🙂 We DID test that quite regularly 😉

I had SO much fun with that little boat. 🙂 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 🙂 (I definitely take after her) 😉 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 😉 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 🙂 ). 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 😉

Yeah, I was also hanging out at the amusement parlor and the pool halls, sometimes the bars 😉 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” 😉 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.  🙂 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. 🙂

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 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=iokDVlHybtE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_YWgRBmVtY

www.lehmkuhl.no

Falado of Rhodes Sunk Yesterday in the Vicinity of Iceland

Iceland Review Online: Daily News from Iceland, Current Affairs, Business, Politics, Sports, Culture.

I found this on a discussion in the traditional sail professionals group on http://www.linkedin.com.  I am sad to see yet another tall ship go down. I love these old ships and I’m sorry to see the level of seamanship is nowhere near the traditional skill levels.

I was lucky enough to start out under sail-training with Captain Jespersen of Denmark who was a real traditional sailor. He was sail-training master of the Danish ship Danmark. He was a fantastic teacher. I’ll never forget the time I was sailing on the Ariadne (3- masted schooner- German flag) and the Phoenix (brigantine- Irish flag) as a student with the Oceanics School. I spent a total of about 8 months on those ships and those lessons have sunk into my bones. The lessons I learned then have come in handy many times over the years. Traditional sail takes a long time under “mentors” (or a good bosun!) to learn it properly. I don’t see people getting trained in any useful way today.

Yeah, the companies I work for send you to USCG/IMO (STCW) required BST (Basic Safety Training) now. You MUST go to this class now before you can go to sea on anything other than inland or under 100 GT. IMHO, that class is a total joke. They send you there and then you’re on your own. After all, you’ve been “trained” now. You already know everything you need to know. Yeah, riiiighht.