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Freshmen on the high seas
My grandpa asked, “So, was there a theme to the trip?” I responded, “Well, when we weren’t hauling up and down the sails, washing the dishes, scrubbing the decks, or a million other things, we had a theme.”
I was one of several freshmen from Northwest Yeshiva High School who set out on a voyage on a vintage sailing vessel to discover new insights about the sea — and about ourselves.
We learned about the ocean’s ecosystem, acidity level, and the amount of plastic in our sea.”
I didn’t know what to expect when I boarded Sound Experience’s Adventuress with my freshmen class at Northwest Yeshiva High School for a three-day sailing adventure aboard the 100-year-old wooden schooner. I was shocked when, after a quick group meeting, we were immediately sent to hoist up the sails for departure. Friends told me that meals would be kale and beans. I learned instantly to toss my assumptions overboard.
For example, when the weather report says “sunny,” don’t pack only light clothes. Even with the sun shining, sailboats sail on wind, and that wind is generally very chilly. I learned this the hard way.
Dishes are not washed in sinks, but in buckets. First in saltwater with a drop of soap, then soapy freshwater, followed by a freshwater rinse, and finally left sitting in freshwater with a drop of bleach for a minute or two. This takes about an hour.
The “Galley Coordinator,” or cook, made delicious meals: Chinese one night, Mexican another. Practically gourmet!
Did I mention that it is incredibly difficult to walk without tripping on a moving boat covered in various “lines.” (We weren’t allowed to call them ropes.) It seemed I might fall on my head at any moment.
Another unexpected activity came after lunch on our first day. Our crew helped respond to a “man overboard” help call on a nearby ferry. It was incredible seeing the crew in emergency mode. They were 100 percent organized and aware. The other pleasure boats in the area also stopped to assist in the rescue.
Fortunately, the person was saved by one of the police boats that assisted in the search and rescue. But we learned that the seafaring community is just that, a community.
One thing I took away from this astounding trip was how everything we do ends up in our ocean. Most toothpaste and face washes include molecules of polyethylene, a kind of plastic. Every time we brush our teeth, or wash our face, we send more and more plastic into our vulnerable ocean.
Imagine that sunny day at the park, when your frisbee took a sudden curve and was lost forever despite your greatest attempt to retrieve it. Or every time you get in the car for a ride, and produce carbon gas. Well, that frisbee will sink down through the earth, and over many years, it will end up in the ocean. And the carbon dioxide from your car is absorbed into the ocean, and deprives vital organisms on the food chain of valuable calcium. We learned a lot on board, and had an amazing time. This opportunity has left its mark on me forever.
A group of Northwest Yeshiva High School students set out on an adventure on the sailing ship, the Adventuress, as the school year began last month.