Monday, June 15, 2009

Spring Schoolship Aboard Manitou

2009 Schoolship Memories
Aboard the Two Masted Gaff Rig Schooner Manitou

by ISEA Lead Instructor & Board Member Sally Somsel

Lead Scientist - Dr. Bill once again led the opening day activities on Manitou as the first students crossed the deck of the tallship. The opening day otter trawl launch was the only dry net launch for the season. It came back up after the ten minute time period with fish, new old Chara and no slime. Fishing was good this year and then the goby moved in. The big catch of the year was the huge glob of quagga mussels weighing over 250 pounds.

The secchi disks hit bottom that first day out at 20 meters & our water temperature was in the low to mid 30’s. While anchored, we determined that the VanDorn bottle line was coming up short & was missing 25 feet. After much discussion between the leads & double checking the measurements - we finally convinced the office we needed a longer line. It arrived at some point in the season, & then we broke the VanDorn bottle, luckily Dr. Bill reached into his towel sack & pulled out a VanDorn for us to use. The water temperature in a month had only warmed up 10 or 15 degrees depending upon which thermometer you were using. It is still not warm enough for the quagga and zebra mussels to have sex yet.

The weather was mostly – “not snowing”. But there was the morning when we arrived and found that the deck was pure ice. As we moved across the bay we ended up being the “Grand Traverse Bay Ice Breaker.”

Captain Dave has a GREAT crew this year. The crew is experienced, helpful & dedicated to the upkeep of Manitou & to the ISEA program. The schooner looks spectacular! The Manitou is really in ship shape condition this season, & we can’t say we have ever seen all the brass so polished & bright this early in the spring. There is either a paint elf onboard Manitou this year, or we Leads have been more careful this spring & are not gouging the PONAR dredge into the nicely painted rail. The crew is taking greater care in bringing the otter boards back on the deck. The crew was pleasant & jovial: Jovial can be translated into: cheerful, jolly, good-humored, fun-loving, full of beans, happy, buoyant – just take your pick

It was a very cold spring; hats, mittens, gloves, & winter coats were the garb of fashion. Captain Cheyenne didn’t dress in 7 layers this year, but she was bundled up. There were a few days when the students showed up in T-shirts and shorts dressed for a pleasant sail in August, even though the temperature was fifty and the wind chill thirty below. After dressing them in yellow jackets and we got their brains warmed up, we had a few students where the “light” kicked “on” and maybe a future sailor or scientist was inspired that day.

While the 80,000 Schoolship student walked across the deck of Inland Seas this spring, that number wouldn’t have been reached without the use of the “floating classrooms” Malabar, Westwind and the magnificent Manitou and their Captains & crew. Even though Inland Seas got a cake, Captain Dave got Birthday Donuts and a rousing chorus of that traditional sea shanty - HAPPY BIRTHDAY !

Brendan and Cheyenne get the Seamanship Instructor Award this year. It was a cold “rainy” day on Monday and I have never seen such big smiles back there at the wheel. The students and the crew/instructors were having a great learning experience. Cook Tina kept the galley warm & toasty and her hot coffee saved the life of many an instructor this spring. Tina’s grub was reputed to be spectacular. Glen and Caleb’s Facebook pages should have been filled with “Friend requests” from many of the eighth grade girls that sailed with us. Delvon came to the Tallship Manitou from the Highlander Sea. (You know that boat that has these deep pockets for all sorts of maintenance projects--). D is currently sailing on a schooner that counts its nickels & dimes & after all these years the Captain finds that he has to spend some cash for the replacement of the rotted out wood plank on the docking platform. Sometimes accidents happen, & Captain Matt & Crew operated under very stressful conditions regarding a head door accident, but they got us back to the dock in record time & the crew handled the situation magnificently. THANK YOU by the way. Sally was busy with teacher #2 who faints at the site of blood & a missing plankton instructor who she thought had a head emergency and he thought he had the break Sally found him sipping a cup of coffee and eating a cookie he got from Tina.

Very noticeable was the line thrower and catchers this year --Wendy and Laura have the biggest smiles in the world that light up even the darkest and dreariest days. OH - Captain Dave, we will be taking our trawl net with us when we leave, but we are leaving Kara (chara) behind on the deck.

WHAT A GREAT TALLSHIP, WHAT A GREAT CREW, WHAT A GREAT SPRING SCHOOLSHIP on the Schooner Manitou. Have A GREAT SUMMER. Thank you all for sharing your days with us and for your hard work and dedication to the ISEA program.
Christine Jerry Len Pete Sally Dr. Bill 0

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