Days 1 and 2 on the S/V Denis Sullivan – Jim’s View (August 12-13, 2016)

August 13, 2016 | 3 Comments
Jim writing his blog.

Jim writing his blog.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Dennis Sullivan experience started long before we arrived in Milwaukee.  I was part of a group of educators who met at the Limnology Lab in Duluth on August 12  to car pool south. We had two SUVs and we quickly realized that there wasn’t going to be enough space for 10 passengers, personal gear, testing equipment, and teaching materials. Luckily, Cindy Hagley was able to get a soft storage carrier we could put on the top of our vehicle.  We divided the group, loaded up and started off to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to pick up two more team members. During the drive, it was a cross between catching up with educators we worked with in the past and getting to know new people. After picking up the remaining educators and loading the carrier on the top of the SUV, we were off again. As we got closer to Milwaukee it was obvious that the weather wasn’t going to hold. The thought of wet clothes crept into my mind and it wasn’t a pleasant thought. Eventually the rain started in and it wasn’t messing around. At one point, the windshield wipers caught on the cord holding the storage carrier and we were driving down the highway completely blind. Marte did an amazing job freeing the wipers and getting us across three lanes of traffic to safety. We quickly pulled together and fixed the cord situation and were off again. The adversity quickly showed me that we were going to have an amazing trip because it was awesome how everyone pulled together.

When we arrived at Discovery World, we all started looking to find the Sullivan, our home for the next week. I was in awe when I finally saw the ship with its masts standing bare waiting for us to board.

We were in for a special treat, there was a scheduled sunset cruise and our entire group was able to join. We had a quick spaghetti dinner and then the sails went up and we were off on our first voyage. The weather started to clear as we pulled out of the harbor and we all enjoyed the peaceful cruise watching the rolling waves and the Milwaukee skyline.

When we got back it was time for watch assignment and to get the gear loaded into the ship. After the ship was loaded, it was time for a walk down to Water Street to say goodbye to civilization for a week.  When we got back to the boat and below deck the dank air was oppressive. The only thing stronger was my exhaustion. So I gave into sleep knowing that in a few hours we would be up before the sun to start off on Lake Michigan.

First day of class on the S/V Denis Sullivan!

First day of class on the S/V Denis Sullivan!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I awoke long before anyone else. I disembarked the ship and walked around for over an hour. I was still tired, but too excited to sleep.  Eventually, I returned to my bunk and laid down until the crew started waking the rest of the educators.

Once everyone was up and going, we learned a lot about the ship. We were assigned identification numbers, given teams, went over safety procedures, and toured the entire ship. After the tour we had French toast and sausage. Yummy.   I was wiped out and turned in for a nice long nap. By the time I got up it was almost time for lunch and my first watch.  We started out watch with a more detailed tour of the tasks that need to happen each, and every, hour. I was surprised to see how much detail and documentation needed to be done every hour.

During my watch I got to take a break to partake in a lesson. We learned about water temperature and its relationship to density, seiches, water clarity, collecting plankton samples and using the Hydrolab to collect water quality data.  Wow! That was a lot for the first lesson of the trip!  I jumped back into my watch and collected the hourly data and then passed my responsibilities onto the next group and enjoyed another wonderful meal on the deck. After cleaning the galley, it was time to blog while watching the sunset over Lake Michigan. Beautiful. The end of a great day and time to get ready for my wake-up at 2:30 AM for my watch at 3:00.

Happy teachers!

Happy teachers!


  • Marte Kitson August 14, 2016 at 10:33 am · Reply

    Looking good, crew!

  • Quan Banh August 14, 2016 at 9:31 pm · Reply

    Awesome you guys. I am sure you guys will like this experience as I just just on The Lake Guardian weeks ago and learn so much. I will definitely keep an I out and apply for next year if there is an opportunity to go on the Sullivan.


    • Cynthia Hagley July 13, 2017 at 9:38 am · Reply

      Hi Quan:

      Glad to see you are checking in. Makes me really miss being out there. You too?

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