The day began with clouds creeping in. We gathered outside of the UWM Riverside dorm to load our gear and ourselves into vans for the short trip down to the harbor. The air was heavy with humidity and anticipation.
Finally, the S/V Denis Sullivan came into view moored in front of Milwaukee’s Discovery Center. Three masts. Green paint. Crew gathered by the railing. Such a beautiful sight. We are 11 educators, 4 Sea Grant staff, 2 National Marine Sanctuaries people (a marine archaeologist and a videographer). I can’t believe anyone was as excited as I. I could barely contain myself!
But we didn’t board. Our home for the week lay just out of reach. The crew worked on outfitting the boat for our cruise. They had just brought it into port the evening before. One thing you should know about these CGL education voyages is that you don’t sit idly for long. Cindy, Marte, and Cathy unloaded crates and curriculum for us. We collected water and plankton and water quality data (after troubleshooting the hydro lab). We even used our homemade plankton samplers!
After what felt like an eternity we portaged all our gear down to the ship and boarded. We found our bunks–not quite like “personal coffins” after all and got ready to go. We waited expectantly for motion. And waited and waited. I’m telling you the anticipation was excruciating. Finally…lines were cast off.
The captain eased her away from the dock. A cheer went up in me. And we went about a hundred yards to a fueling dock. At about this time we got really disappointing news. One of the two engines had been damaged the day before! After a full month touring Canadian ports to help celebrate that nation’s 150th anniversary! What would happen?
Well, if the weather turns bad we might stay in port. We might not go fast enough to make our itinerary. We may stay the nights in port. We’ll see. Captain Tiffany is determined to make the itinerary. Part of the point of this cruise is to promote a new National Marine Sanctuary running from Milwaukee up past Manitowoc. This is an important goal for the ship, the crew, and the CGL program.
We did some more science. Got some ship board training. Learned about shipwrecks and about the history of the Denis Sullivan reconstruction. We even ate lunch. Even the highly digestible meal couldn’t quench my worry. Would we leave today? Would we wait for parts? Would we sail?
At 4:30 we cast off again. We helped the crew with lines. Learned to coil and store various lines. Then, I saw a crew member un-reef a sail. Then another and another. The next thing I knew I was hauling on a halyard and hoisting a sail. By the time we were done all 6 sails were up. We were sailing. All the waiting was worthwhile. With a song in my heart we healed over and scooted up the lake towards Port Washington, our destination for tonight.
Lots more training followed as well as an excellent supper. At around 8 pm we dropped the sails and coasted into harbor.