On September 10, 25 high school students from Ledyard, New London, and Fitch received the chance of a lifetime. They sailed for four days on the Oliver Hazard Perry, the largest civilian ship in the United States, from New London to Montauk, Block Island and finally to Newport. Although it may seem like it, this trip wasn’t all fun and games, The trainees learned all about boats, the different masts, the names of the sails and lines, and teamwork. There was a running joke on the boat that they were learning to be pirates, as many students were convinced they would run into a pirate ship on their journey — and they would be ready for it.
The students who went on the trip represented a club called More Than Words. Kurt Jannke, the club advisor of the LHS branch, also went on the trip. More Than Words is a club about diversity, and the mission of the group is to promote respect for diversity, facilitate communication, and build trust among members of the community. The sailing trip was a way for the students to bond, not only with the members from their school, but also the members from other schools.
Throughout the trip, the trainees learned how to set the sails, strike the sails, steer the boat, fulfill the roles of lookouts, look out runners, and so much more. When asked what he thought about this trip, senior Trevor Hutchins from Ledyard High School said,
“Not what I expected. I knew that we were going to be doing some work on the trip but I didn’t know that we’d be doing nearly all the work and sailing the ship basically by ourselves. We unfurled and furled the sails, tied the ropes and everything. Night watches [were a lot of work] too but I expected that because I heard about it beforehand.”
The night watches, also known as anchor watches, were two hour shifts in the middle of the night. They started at 8 p.m.and ended at 8 a.m.. On those watches, the students did a boat check at the start of every hour, where they walked around the boat to ensure there wasn’t water anywhere and that everything was in place. They also filled out a logbook, which is a report that is turned into the Coast Guard. In the logbook, they reported on the well-being of the ship. “The hardest part of the trip was not getting enough sleep,” Jamin Importante, a senior at Fitch High School, said. “It was difficult because we were always doing something. The anchor watches disrupted our sleep, it was exhausting.”
Hutchins also thought the trip was exhausting. “A lot of the time when I got free chances, I would go to sleep because the sleeping schedule was so weird,” he said. Other times when the students had free time, they played games in the great cabin, or had a snack in the mess.
While the trip was a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun. Many of the trainees’ favorite moment was when they jumped off the side of the boat. They anchored off the coast of Block Island and set out the ladder. They all got changed into their swimsuits and started lining up. Importante has been on the boat three times total and says that this time was her favorite.
“My favorite memory of the trip was jumping off the side of the ship to swim,” she said. “I loved it because the sunset was in the background and it felt like a movie. It was also funny to see how scared people were to jump off.”
Hutchins’ favorite memory was also jumping off the boat. “Jumping off the boat was my best memory and being able to swim with everyone. It was a lot of fun, it was scary, but it was fun.”
There’s a chance that in the spring the same group will take the ship to Cuba in the srping, so the pirates better watch out.
Erin Tolles, Staff Writer
Sophomore Erin Tolles is a staff writer for the 2017-2018 Colonel. Erin, a.k.a. ‘CRAZY CAT LADY’ enjoys singing and playing her ukelele. She would much rather be in summer camp being a super cool counselor than in school. Erin is obsessed with popcorn and Harry Potter, like most normal people, and flees America and travels to Austria annually.