Official Vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Ernestina Logbook Page

Date: Tuesday, October 1, 2002
Charles River School
Transit New Bedford to Boston Fan Pier
8am to 9pm

What a beautiful day for a sail! The weather report calls for fair skies and a brisk SW wind building in the afternoon. By the time we get to the Cape Cod Canal the tide will just have turned in our favor. So, although we have 80 miles or more to cover today, we have everything going in our favor.

Today has been one of those idyllic days onboard the Schooner Ernestina. 22 6th graders and 6 chaperones from the Charles River School boarded this morning around 0830 for a 12-hour transit to Boston. We circled around the wheel for introductions, and each person named one item they’d bring on a trans-Atlantic voyage to Cape Verde—an item that starts with the same letter as the person’s first name! Once we felt we’d be well-equipped with such creative and sensibly-minded participants, we were ready to get underway!

The Charles River School has sailed aboard Schooner Ernestina for several years now during this unpredictable month of October. They have pulled with a will through rain and wind. Every year in the past they've had less than ideal weather (to put it mildly) and are due for a great day like this!

After an orientation and safety discussion for all hands, Ernestina backed out from her berth at Tonnessen Park on New Bedford State Pier, past the fishing vessels tied up at Fisherman's Wharf, and all hands set to work setting the "four lowers" in the brisk southwesterly breeze. Since we had a long way to go, we kept the motor turning over as we steamed out through the entrance channel to New Bedford/Fairhaven Harbor. By the time we reached Butlers Flat Lighthouse we had the mains'l and fores'l set. Soon thereafter we were under sail alone moving along with Ernestina easily making nine knots on a broad reach across Buzzards Bay toward Naushon Island.

Sail maneuvers wove intermittently in with our classes throughout the day. The students were divided into watch groups first thing, and their brief watch orientations before we got off the dock were enough to get them rolling. At about 1030, after a snack break to rejuvenate after all that sail-raising, "A"-watch took the deck and got opportunities to steer, navigate, stand bow lookout, run boat checks, and help with basic sail maneuvers. Morning classes for "B" and "C" watches focused on weather observations (with Jay) and the simple machines we use to gain mechanical advantage onboard (with Jim).

After tacking to a port tack on the other side of the Bay, we sailed in on Cleveland Ledge Light to enter the Cape Cod Canal approaches. The wind was building at the head of Buzzards Bay as typical for a strong SW'ly breeze. We decided to strike the jib, turn into the wind under power and strike the mains'l and then fall off again to go under fores'l and jumbo along with the engine through the Cape Cod Canal.

The Army Corps of Engineers maintains and operates the Canal and has strict requirements for the many ships that pass through. We are required to call "Canal Control" on the VHF radio to describe our intentions, the type of ship we operate and how many passengers aboard, etc. We also are not allowed to sail through the Canal and must have the engine turning over.

You can see from the images that we had fair current of 2.3 knots or more which made our speed close to 11 knots over the ground at times thanks to the combination of current, engine, the sails and fair breeze. It took no time at all to pass the seven or eight miles into Cape Cod Bay.

Not long after we threaded up into the Canal, the lunch bell rang, and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup filled up everyone’s attention and bellies. Students and teachers held up a "CHARLES RIVER SCHOOL" banner for a pair of waving, photographing parents strolling the bikepath on the mainland side of the Canal, and we all waved. As that following tide pushed us out the northern end of the canal, students were engrossed in asking questions and listening to crewmembers Gwen and Rob talk about life aboard schooners. Their attentions were only interrupted for re-setting the jib; a few students climbed out on the bowsprit to help untie it (unfurl the sail).

Southwesterly breezes pushed us gently up Massachusetts Bay; under the three forward lowers we were running in good time to make Boston by evening. In afternoon classes , students with Eric focused on chart use in navigation and with MaryHelen on ocean topography and how captains found their way across miles of open ocean before the advent of Radar, Global Positioning Systems, and other modern navigational aids.

Just before and as "C" watch took the deck at 1600, several students harnessed up with MaryHelen’s help and got their wish of climbing out on the bowsprit, just to feel the sea rolling DIRECTLY beneath their feet. Others focused on food webs in the ocean with Kristen, and then all the off-watch students helped to set and haul back our large neuston (surface-layer) plankton net. Because we were making such quick headway up the Bay, we had to wait for a container ship to pass so we could head up a bit and slow down so we wouldn’t damage the net! Everyone got excited to inspect the critters captured (temporarily) in our sample cup; microscopes and magnifiers helped students observe copepods, larval crabs, and other tiny inhabitants of our surface waters before releasing them back to the sea. After the last few students took their turn on the bowsprit, it was dinnertime, and we all dug in to saucy chicken with rice and salad. All that bright sunshine and fresh air can really make you hungry!

Just at sunset we approached the entrance to Boston Harbor. We passed among the Harbor Islands through "The Narrows" past Georges, Lovell and Gallops Islands to enter the Inner Harbor. It was a beautiful sight to see the lighted skyline of the city from the sea.

After dinner, all participants huddled below in the Fish Hold with Traudi and MaryHelen and heard (and participated in!) stories from Ernestina’s illustrious past 108 years. By the time we came back up on deck, we were docking at Boston Harbor’s Fan Pier. With string and a marble in each pocket, and a brief introduction to the art of making Monkey’s Fists, the Charles River School were off to climb aboard the bus for home. After 80.2 nautical miles of sailing in some of the greatest weather we’ve enjoyed all season, they deserved to be tired and happy from such a full day.

Great job to the Pam Moore and the students and chaperones from the Charles River School! We covered a lot of water in the past twelve hours and look forward to sailing with Charles River School again soon!

Program Coordinator: MaryHelen Gunn
Captain: Gregg Swanzey

The fores'l is going up. Jumbo and jib yet to go!

It takes everyone aboard to set the mains'l and fores'l!

Hauling away to set the fores'l.

Navigation is a constant responsibility for the watch on deck. Here chief mate Erica Sachs works with students to fix the ship's position as we approach the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. The mains'l is still up (you can see the sheet in the background) but will soon come down before entering the narrow channel to the Canal.

Small group discussions were happening all day. Here the Bourne Bridge disappears behind the ship as we steam through the Cape Cod Canal.

Meals took place on deck with everyone chipping in on the dishes at the end.

Clipping in before heading out to help furl the jib.

The day's run from New Bedford State Pier to Boston Fan Pier through the Cape Cod Canal.

We turned into the wind to strike the mains'l just befor entering the Canal.

Fair current added 2.3 knots to our speed through the Canal.

The plankton net went over off Scituate Harbor.

The bearing compass can be used to check the wind direction or sight landmarks for bearings to help fix the ship's position.

The plankton tow came aboard with comb jellies galore!

The microscopes are set up to take a closer look at the plankton.

"Laying on" is the call when stepping onto the footrope. Students lined the bowsprit all the way out to the end to help furl the jib after it was "struck."

Out on the bowsprit furling the jib as the sun sets low in the sky in the west...

We would like to thank Lotus and IBM for donation of software, hardware and funding to enable regular electronic updates from the ship.

NOAA Chart is provided courtesy of Maptech using Cruising Navigator 4.3 and grabbing the image using Grabit Pro 6.02.

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Copyright 1997-2002
Schooner Ernestina
89 North Water Street, P.O. Box 2010, New Bedford, MA 02741-2010
phone 508.992.4900 -- fax 508.984.7719

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