Youths on 16-day schooner tour learn seamanship, history & help out seaport museum

08/04/2011 1:10 AM |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO Light from the fresnel lens reflects off the face of 13-year-old Gillian Lindstrom of Ithaca, NY, as she carefully cleans the glass while Education Director Eden Leonard looks on. The 4th order fresnel lens was originally installed at Plum Island Lighthouse and dates from the late 1800s. In 1994 the lens was removed from the lighthouse and is now on display at the East End Seaport Museum in Greenport.

The tall ship Roseway docked at Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport last Thursday, bringing a contingent of students from all over the United States, Europe and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Their mission, part of a 16-day World Ocean School tour along the northeast coast that included one day in the village, was to visit and volunteer at the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation’s harborfront museum.

The students helped clean a Fresnel lens from Plum Island Lighthouse and distributed posters throughout downtown Greenport advertising the September Maritime Festival, a foundation fundraiser. They started with a briefing from museum and foundation board president Ted Webb, who shared a few tales about the village’s maritime history.

The program’s aims are not only to teach students about sailing and the history of ports they visit but also to instill ethics, according to Roseway skipper Capt. Ryan Thomas. Through group discussions and exercises, the crew teaches students about trust, integrity, respect, compassion and communication, he said.

Capt. Thomas, who came aboard for what he thought would be a part-time relief job in 2006, said he’s found a steady and enjoyable way of earning a living.

“They’re long, tiring days,” he said. “But when you see their smiles at the end of the day, it’s really worth it.”

Crew members aren’t all experienced sailors. If there’s time to teach, they’ll be taught to sail, crew member Scott West said.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, but a lot of fun,” he said.

Students qualified for acceptance into the 16-day educational program by writing essays about why they wanted to serve aboard the Roseway, a 137-foot schooner built in Essex, Mass., in 1925.

The per-person cost of the tour, which takes the students to Greenport, Mystic and New London, Conn., Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard, is $3,300. But many students have partial or full scholarships, according to staff member Eden Leonard of Oregon.
“I had never been abroad,” Stas Pastushenko, 15, of the Ukraine said. “I thought it would be fun.”

He’s been studying English with a teacher who recommended the program.

Natasha Charlery, 14, of St. Croix, where the Roseway spends November to May, had been on the boat before as part of a sixth-grade trip.

“It’s been a blast,” she said of the trip, just a few days into the voyage, which started in Boston, where the Roseway is based from June through October. “It’s basically like home on a boat.”

And like home, that means regular chores to assure that student quarters are neat and clean and the rest of the boat sparkles.
Max Deckelman, 12, of Oregon has been hearing about the Roseway all his life because his uncle is a Roseway captain. He said he couldn’t wait until he was old enough to qualify for the trip, for which students must be between the ages of 12 and 16.

Gillian Lindstrom, 13, of Ithaca, N.Y., has been sailing all her life because her grandparents lived on a boat for many years. But the boats she was familiar with were smaller craft.

“I just wanted to do it on a bigger scale,” she said.

“I love sailing and wanted to learn about open-sea sailing,” said Bryon Lewis-Cummings, 15, of Boston.

And, while Dana Winkle, 15, of Chicago, admitted she got a little seasick the first day out, getting busy with onboard chores calmed her nerves, and she was doing fine by the time she got to Greenport.

The Roseway’s varied history has included time as a fishing schooner before becoming a pilot boat in Boston Harbor and then a Coast Guard reserve vessel. The ship also sailed as a Maine windjammer before joining the World Ocean School’s fleet in 2002.

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