Day 3: SV Denis Sullivan told by Carly

August 15, 2017

They tell me it’s day 2 on the ship. I’m not convinced. Considering how much we have seen, experienced, and learned already, how could it be that we have only been together on the Denis Sullivan for only 2 days?

Cory is calibrating our Hydrolab in order to test several chemical parameters in the lake.

Sailing a tall ship is quite an experience. I’m still trying to figure things out a bit. There are new rules that govern your way of life aboard a floating island. The crew have been abundantly patient with us–carefully explaining (an re-explaining) certain knots and sailing terminology. There is a magic about them–they seem to disappear for moments and suddenly hop back on deck–jumping into action to hoist sails or tie off lines. They are unbelievably efficient and thorough, a tribute to Captain Tiffany’s leadership skills.

One of the best parts of this journey so far has been¬†experiencing the expansiveness of Lake Michigan. Sure–you can see the specs and read about it’s size. At 307 miles long and 118 miles wide with an average depth of 280 ft and a maximum depth of 925 ft, you get the point that it is really big. But having only the Atlantic Ocean and the small lakes around southern Wisconsin to compare it to, I couldn’t exactly imagine the size. Before we set sail in Milwaukee we created a scaled down model of the Great Lakes to demonstrate their size, depth, volume, and fish density. But nothing really prepares you for the first time you look off the ship and see water for miles on end. Looking out into the open of Lake Michigan early this morning, I felt a tiny bit of how I imagine the first astronauts felt after seeing Earth for the first time. A great reminder that this ecosystem is both precious and commands great respect. That feeling, an urgency for protecting something beautiful, is one that all educators hope their students will experience someday. The value of travel through hands on research cannot be underestimated.

James is “showing us the ropes” as he pulls in the small boat.

Our day was filled with lessons and lectures relating to both the science and culture of sailing as well as the limnology of Lake Michigan. We gathered samples twice today–sampling for benthic invertebrates, water quality assessments, and phytoplankton each time. Although we haven’t had a chance to organize all of our critters just yet, we are starting to get the hang of sampling off of a tall ship. This part was really exciting for me as my students back in Madison regularly sample our (much smaller) lakes for similar parameters. I am already drawing some parallels of how we can extend our studies beyond our immediate community.

So much to write about but internet is a valuable resource. Growth highlights: Running the Hydrolab properly and hearing about exciting activities we can use to engage our students back home. Goofy highlights: Swimming in Lake Michigan for the first time and watching a colleague discover she had accidentally put salad dressing in her coffee instead of creamer.

As the sun sets in Sheboygan I am filled with gratitude for our captain, our crew, our ship, and our planet.

Scanning the seine for fish on the lake shore of Sheboygan with our ichthyologist, Titus.