Prep School Consortium Set Sail

Earlier in the year, Mr. Chottiner and Mr. Nilsen gave a presentation to the
school during assembly about a unique summer opportunity: a chance to "sail
the high seas" with the Flagship Niagara. The Flagship Niagara is replica of
an 1812 warship, remade as a school vessel for high school students. Six
students took this opportunity: Elisa Ogot, Molly Lowery, Katherine Yan, Berk
Alper, Luke Farell, and myself, and with Mr. Nilsen we are to help sail the
Niagara around the Great Lakes.

We arrived two days ago, and became acquainted with the ship. We were divided
into three watches which are to be ours for the whole trip, and are the
people with whom we will spend a majority of our time. We took a tour of the
ship, seeing where we will be sleeping, where we will be working, etc., and I
was taken back in two ways: first by the fact that the ceilings below deck
are about four feet high, and considering that I am 6'0", this may prove to
be a problem. Secondly, and more importantly, I was surprised at how
beautiful the ship is, with the wooden masts and white sails. I was expecting
a rickety old ship infested with rats, but got a majestic ship with no
wildlife whatsoever, except for the stray cat named Latrine which the crew
took in as their own.

We were given some free time, and used it to drink CoolAid, drop a Snicker
bar into the lake, watch some Cleveland kids attempt, and fail, to fish a 
Snickers bar from the lake, and then sleep under the stars on deck.

The next day was the exciting one: climbing aloft for the first time. Now, 
while I was too man to admit it to my lady friends, I was more than a little
nervous: climbing what seemed like a hundred feet of rope ladder and out onto
a mast was not exactly my idea of a good time. I took it nice and slow,
refusing to look down, but when I reached the top I could not resist to look, 
and the view was excellent, with the peaceful lake and a clear sky. But my 
job was not over: what goes up must come down. So again, holding on for dear 
life, and probably being on the receiving end of a few smirks from the 
experienced and confident crew, I inched back down. Later on that day was
what we were all waiting for: actually leaving port and going out onto the
water. All working together, we were able to get the ship out without 
crashing it, something which I was not assuming we could do. 

We were then told to go to sleep, as my watch had the 3:00-7:00 in the 
morning. After failing to get into my hammock more than once, much to my 
shipmates amusement and my own chagrin, I was instantly asleep, and instantly
awakened by Elisa, who with too much joy for that ungodly hour gave me a 
weather forecast and told me what to wear. My first watch was exhausting: I 
learned how to 'man the helm,' which I found out meant 'steer the ship' in 
English, how to keep watch, among other things. Finally getting to do sailor 
things had me feeling like a true 1800s seaman, until I found out that I 
could not successfully wrap a rope and tie it to a pin. Nevertheless, the 
first watch was an adventure, and hopefully when it's a little less dark and 
we're all a little less tired we can start getting into the swing of things 
and really learn to sail.

Paul Steenkiste
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5 Responses to Prep School Consortium Set Sail

  1. Carol Vlack says:

    hoping that the weather is good so that you can sail all the way to detroit without motoring. i wonder if you have had big storm out there? Did everyone bring out their fall weather gear? We are thinking of our boy Johnny Stringer going up the to the 100′ mark! Wish you all the best of Luck – Carol Vlack and Family.

  2. It was great to hear that you have made it to Lake Superior. How was it to go through the locks? My son, John S, let us know he had climbed the nets to the top of the mast and felt great up there. WOW. it must be quite a view. Hope all enjoy good weather and good humor. Wonder how it is going for those night watches? What does it sound like and feel to you sailors to be under sail under the stars?.

  3. What an adventure! I’m Cole’s Mom. Please tell him that I send my love and look forward to reading everyone blog.

  4. Bob Dueber says:



  5. Anthony Scurti Ants says:

    You will not be less tired, you just get numb to being that way … but enjoy, its a great time ….. I sailed her in 2000, east coast …..

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