Skip To Main Content

Ocean Classroom: Maine, Sail Training, and Heading South

Scott Allenby

As with any ocean voyage, unexpected obstacles early in the term tested the crew's patience aboard the Harvey Gamage, however, the past two weeks of sailing, training, and educational experiences throughout the Gulf of Maine have quickly made up for lost time. As students learn to crew Gamage and begin to experience life at sea, their reflections in daily journal entries tell a powerful tale. 

Ocean Classroom Sailing in Maine Proctor Academy

October 1 | Preparing for Voyage - Owen ‘24 

As our time at the Oliver Hazard Perry came to an end, we were unclear on the state of the Harvey Gamage, and were informed by our educators that we would be spending the next week at Camp Wahelo in Maine while the Harvey Gamage received final repairs. While bummed that our trip was postponed yet again, we kept our heads high, ready to begin our next chapter. Upon arrival in Maine, we were greeted by the smiling face of our Captain. In that moment, I felt a sense of ease of mind, knowing that this wasn’t a smile that would disappear within a week, but was a smile that would guide my crewmates and me down the east coast. Over the course of that week at camp, we learned how to chart, read weather, do jobs, and tasks efficiency, and get closer as a crew in general. By the end of the week, I was feeling far more prepared than before and was eagerly awaiting word that our ship was ready. At that time, our Head of School Brian shared the great news that we were on our way! 

October 7 | Rockland and Sailing - Anna ‘23 

These last few weeks we have been sailing in and out of coves in Maine, anchoring at night while standing one hour anchor watches. The weather has been beautiful for sailing while watching the trees change color. While in Maine, everyone took our first bucket showers. The experience was cold and very funny, but so worth it! We warmed up after with tea and hot chocolate, before finishing our nights before anchor watch with multiple card games. The full moon was incredible and many cameras were taken out, but nothing could capture its in-person beauty. 

We stopped in Rockland to visit Back Cove Yachts where we learned about how each piece was made and how it was all put together to achieve the final product. On the way back from Back Cove Yachts, we stopped for snacks and dropped letters to our loved ones before walking back to the docks. From there, we all sat in the sun sharing snacks, waiting for the rescue boats to bring us back to the Gamage. While back on the boat, we took some time for ourselves to read, write, nap, play cards, or the guitar. Gathering back together to have dinner by watch, we ended the night mustering as a group and gazing at the two corona rings around the moon. 

October 10 | Vinalhaven and Sailing Around Maine - Zoie ‘24 

Vinalhaven was a beautiful, serene, tranquil cover of peace for myself and the group as a whole. We left Rockland, ME and motor-sailed to Vinalhaven to anchor and sleep for the night. When we arrived, we viewed a postcard-worthy harbor with fishing boats and lobster boats. We received a brief talk from Peter, one of our amazing deckhands and educators, about the history of Vinalhaven and his own personal experiences growing up going to this island with his family in the summer. We were then informed we would be going on land to experience the special place close up and personal. We were briefed that when we go on land, we are leaving no trace. I was in the first boat to leave the ship and voyage to land. Josh, our wonderful watch officer, second mate and bosun let me drive the rescue boat all the way to shore…

As we continued our walk in search of an off the beaten path trailhead, it did not take long for us to be engulfed by the nature and beauty of the island. Just across the road, we saw a massive group of deer. All sizes and what seems to be ages and mannerisms, they seemed to be quite comfortable here, unstartled by our presence. We paused to gawk in awe at the beautiful specimens so freely roaming their earth. We saw more deer living peacefully throughout our walk, but that first herd of deer was really breathtaking. We were so clearly in their territory, and we kept our feet anchored to the ground, and moving forward, grateful they let us share the island. 

When we arrived at the trailhead, we began our wait for the rest of the group. There is a lot of waiting on off-campus programs, especially Ocean Classroom, due to the nature of the experience. It is within that waiting that the most memorable conversations are had, friendships are strengthened, and your patience gets tested. You can respond in a positive manner, and I think if we continue to view the “waiting” periods in our life as opportunities for conversations with people around you, or in appreciation for your surroundings, you will never be waiting, you will be doing. 

October 12 | Vinalhaven and Sailing in Maine - Olivia ‘24 

Sailing throughout Maine was such an amazing experience. As a lover of Maine myself, I loved exploring its coast in more depth. On October 10th, we were given the opportunity to explore Vinalhaven! It was a cold and misty day, but the eerie weather added to the island’s beauty. We got dressed for the weather, put on our life vests and got in the skiffs to putter over to the island. I loved walking along the road to the trails and passing the quaint, small homes of the fishing community. As we walked along the trails we had to be very careful of stepping on the fragile moss. We came out onto a little lookout and took a moment of silence as a group to appreciate the island’s beauty. On our way back, we came out onto a little beach and a few others and I explored the rocks and tide pools. The purple-blue mussel shells were so pretty and cool to compare. 

The sunset that night was so orange and vibrant. We had to head back to the boat at around 17:00 in order to eat dinner. I was sad to leave the island and wish we had even more time to explore the small fishing community thriving off of the island's wildlife. We were anchored in Old Harbor and spent the night there. The next morning bright and early, we sailed back to Rockland. After Rockland, we sailed up to Castine to spend some time at the Maine Maritime Academy where we got to meet and see how passionate students are at the institution about the ocean and maritime lifestyles.  

Ocean Classroom Sailing in Maine Proctor Academy

October 14 | Maine Maritime Academy - Henry ‘23 

After our first weeks of sailing in the Gulf of Maine, we slowly climbed up the coast nearing the Penobscot Bay. As a group, we had been learning the ways of the boat and getting comfortable with sailing, tucking the Gamage into sheltered bays, harbors, and coves each night. Together, as a crew, we felt we were ready to begin our voyage south, but our eagerness to descent the Atlantic Coast coincided with a nsaty weather system fast approaching so we felt it would be unwise as inexperienced sailors to face the storms, and reluctantly chose to hunker down in the quaint coastal town of Castine, Maine, home of the Maine Maritime Academy. The Academy was gracious enough to offer us their facilities to learn and get a glimpse into the research and education that takes place there. 

One of the highlights from our stay was using MMA’s Bridge Simulator facility. The simulator is designed for prospective bridge crew to practice operating large vessels in scenarios difficult to emulate without risk. We got to use two of the bridge control stations and two 30 foot Coast Guard vessels that cruised at about 30 knots. It took us a few collisions and lots of practice to truly figure it out, but the whole process was so much fun (especially ramming into each other)! Another highlight was using MMA’s locker rooms for much needed showers. After almost two weeks on the water, everyone was able to savor hot, running water. We also got to call home to our parents which proved logistically challenging, but enjoyable. Connecting With those at home adn hearing from loved ones was a huge morale boost for all. During the few days in Castine, Maine Maritime Academy provided us with great hospitality and allowed us to avoid being cooped up at anchor while we waited for the weather system to pass. Using their facilities and classrooms gave us a great opportunity for education as well, and we are so grateful for their generosity and willingness to help us out. 

October 17 | Overnight Transit - Avery ‘23 

On Sunday, October 16th, we wrapped up sail training and began to prepare to get underway. We were in Tenants Harbor in Maine and headed out on our first overnight transit to Gloucester, MA. As Griffin, the 3rd Mate, Anna Maria and I walked around the ship ensuring everything was secure in its place, A Watch heaved around 180 feet of anchor chain on the windless. Once the anchor was raised and we were underway, my exhaustion got the best of me. I went below to take a nap, since I wasn’t on watch. Dinner and the st of the night were a blur, before I went to bed at 20:30. Hours later, I am woken at 03:45 being told it is time for my watch. I put on my many layers, then my harness, and step on deck announcing my presence as I clip into the jackline. At 04:00, C Watch and our watch adults muster at midship. Soon after, we begin our half hour rotations, and I start at the helm, It is one of my favorite roles on the ship, bringing feelings of power, but also awareness and responsibility. A few rotations later, Olivia and I are on bow watch as the sky lightens to reveal great clouds everywhere. We are having such a good time pointing things out and chatting, we didn’t even realize we did two rotations. After an hour on lookout, I head down to the galley briefly to warm up. As I am holding my hands above the stove, I converse with Nev, our cook. After I head back out on deck, we complete a few more rotations before we wake up the oncoming watch at 07:45. At this point, we are a little over two hours from Cloucster, but much closer than we were when our watch began four hours ago. After we are relieved of our duties, I head back down to bed, satisfied and content knowing I did my part. 

October 18 | Gloucester and Good News - Ben ‘24 

After anchoring in Tenants Harbor for the night, we prepared to sail south to Gloucester. We filled the boat with fuel and left around 14:00. When we first started, the weather was very good, fair winds and blue skies. I worked on my essay for history until it was time for my watch, starting at 18:00 and going until 20:00. At this time it was getting very foggy and visibility was very poor. We were navigating through the lobster pots as Lagan and Ella who were just looking out saw a fishing boat coming straight at us from our starboard side. I was at the helm at this time and it scared the life out of me. I almost panicked but I tried my best to stay calm. Our watch team leader, Anna Marie, blasted the horn five times as a danger warning. We slowed down and the fishing boat turned away. It was a very scary situation. We were relieved and my watch had our next watch at 04:00. I was woken up by B Watch and got dressed. It was extremely cold so I had to put on many layers. I got up on deck and it was very foggy and the visibility was very low. There was a break in the sky and we got to see Orion’s Belt, but just for a short time. We gained some visibility as the sun started to come up and we started to see lobster boats coming out. We took bearings of them and they were not in any harm of hitting us. We got turned over at 08:00 and I went to bed for the night. I woke up from my nap and we were told the engine broke. Our engineer came to the conclusion that the shaft broke or a line was stuck in the prop. A diver came and pulled so much line out of the prop that was from a lobster pot that we must have hit during the fog. 

Check out photos from Fall 2022 Ocean Classroom on Flickr!

  • Ocean Classroom
  • Off-Campus Program