My first “sailing” day on the Denis Sullivan started early, we were awoken in our bunks just after five in the morning. We’d had the opportunity to participate in a short sail the night before and were lucky enough to spend the night on the ship before departing. We emerged from the hold to find a grey drizzly morning, wet but not overwhelming. We motored out of the bay as the wind was not sufficient to travel with the sails.
Our first order of business was a safety orientation on the ship. The crew was great as they explained what we needed to do in the case of any emergency. The biggest emergency I faced on the first day was a little bit of motion sickness! Our sail the night before had lulled me into a false sense of security, if a cruise around the bay didn’t affect me I’d be fine for a week, right? Luckily a dose of Dramamine and a bit of essential oil behind the ears was enough to bring me back to normal.
Part of the orientation on the vessel was showing teachers how to run boat check and complete boat chores. We evaluated water levels in the holds, tracked our course, and monitored engine performance. I was able to spend an hour at the helm, I think anyone tracking our progress during that hour may have seen a bit of a zig-zag pattern but I don’t think I steered us too far off course!
Since we are here to learn from Sea Grant staff and other teachers about Great Lakes ecology our afternoon was spent hearing about how mentor teachers (those who have participated in a Great Lakes research experience in the past) have implemented Great Lakes information into their classes. We also learned about Great Lakes archaeology and shipwrecks. Each afternoon during our sail we will hear more about how others use the Great Lakes as a springboard for content, and how we can apply those lessons in our local area.
By the end of the day the weather had cleared and we had favorable winds so the order was given to raise the sails. It was quite an experience to assist the crew as the many sails were raised and made fast. I learned (and forgot!) the names of many different lines and maneuvers, I’m sure I’ll have them all down by the time our journey ends in Duluth.