Students from Proctor Academy’s Ocean Classroom semester program started the first leg of their journey on Hurricane where we enjoyed two days exploring the island and learning some valuable skills that students can take with them to sea as they begin their sailing voyage aboard the Schooner Roseway.
During the first part of the program we showed everyone around Hurricane’s sustainable systems and then took students on a hike around the island that revealed the foundations and other artifacts that remain from when Hurricane was an operational granite quarry town. Students looked through historical images and identified the church, town hall, and company store from the granite era. We also recently received the original organ from Hurricane’s Catholic Church back from North Haven, and students even took turns playing it and reviving some of the old sounds of the island in the 1900s.
After the history lesson, students learned about how to read nautical charts and perfected some basic knots including a bowline, slipknot, figure 8, and clove hitch. Each watch then raced to get everyone to successfully tie all of the knots and demonstrate their new skills.
Students also had a chance to explore the low-tide zone near Gibbon’s Point to get a snapshot of the type of organisms that make up rocky intertidal areas in Maine. We caught a lot of green crabs (some students dared to eat a live green crab), watched barnacles feeding in tide pools, and caught hermit crabs scampering around trying to hide among empty periwinkle shells.
We also enjoyed showing students how to use ornithology field guides and binoculars to identify seabirds. While we mostly saw herring gulls and eider ducks off Hurricane, we expect students to encounter a variety of amazing seabirds during their ocean voyage. We also talked about how seabirds are adapted to survive in the ocean environment.
Finally, we discussed Maine’s commercial fisheries and how important the lobster industry is to the economy of Maine’s coastal communities. We took a look at the data from this past year’s fishing season from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and students learned about the history of some of Maine’s other historically important fisheries including the cod fishery and the scallop fishery. Students learned about how Maine manages and regulates fisheries to try and avoid overharvesting different species, and we discussed the challenges of trying to manage species that have complicated and not fully understood life histories and behaviors. Students also had a chance to see how lobster fishing works in action by going out on the boat with Oakley to watch him haul his recreational lobster traps. We got enough lobster to enjoy a lobster dinner that night, followed by a birthday celebration!
We wish students fair seas and strong winds during their next adventure on Roseway headed towards the Caribbean, and you can follow along with their trip’s progress at the school’s blog.