After a safety briefing, students were allowed to walk out to the head rig with crew members. While underway all sails and rigging need to be accessible to crew members. Therefore, crew members are trained to go out to furl or fix sails or lines. Ryan shares “After attaching our harnesses to the ship we were able to climb out onto the head rig. To the dismay of several students, however, we were not allowed to sleep there.” Heading out to the head rig provided the foremost view from the ship.
Before we traveled to the Virgin Islands, we assigned “Watch teams.” These Watch teams formed the foundation for the care of the ship. The motto of the week was “Ship, Shipmates, Self.” This means that each watch is responsible for several aspects of running the ship while underway. These include boat checks, bow watch, standing at the helm, raising sails (tacking or gybing), and many other tasks. Nick shared his thoughts during watch, “standing at the helm, I could feel a great sense of power and responsibility over the ship. This mass of wood and sailcloth would respond to my touch, but I had to have a gentle and steady hand. I would need to be careful, to not push the ship off course and cost us precious time. In the same moment, I felt exhilarated. I could feel all the classic cliches about sunny sailing coming to mind, and I loved it. I only was able to be at the helm once, and it will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
During times underway and while at anchor sails needed to be kept neat and tidy. Here Ben shares his thoughts on this task, “I am folding the inner jib sail. Meaning I’m making it neat, so it will last longer. I was harnessed in and it was so exciting to be in front of the ship like that. Hanging above the water was thrilling and it was fun learning how difficult little tasks can be just because of their placement throughout the ship. ”
Our last activity before leaving the Harvey Gamage was “up and over,” where students were given the opportunity to climb the ratlines to the mast. The top of the mast is about 100 feet from the water line, which provides access to important sail rigging and beautiful views of the St Thomas anchorage around Frenchtown. Sam says of the experience, “I had fun climbing the rigging of the ship. It was extremely scary but worth the view at the top.” Eli felt that “climbing up the mast was an experience most unique. As you climbed higher you could feel the sway of the waves more intensely. The reward of the sight from the top of the mast was like watching the world from a birds eye view, standing on a small cross bar with nothing obstructing your view.”