Sunday, August 12, 2012


Long time without a post.

So I am not entirely sure where I left off, and my kindle is less and less good at the internet lately; I will guess it was getting back to Erie from the detroit river.

After dropping off the last group of students, we enjoyed a bit of time off before heading back to Port Colbourne. Every time we find ourselves there the crew has a good time. This trip was for Canal Days,so the days were filled with deck tours.

I personally really enjoy deck tours; I like talking to strangers.

Getting back to Erie was an uneventful, easy sail. We are now back on the lke with our last group of students. They are high school students from the Cleveland area involved in a Sea Scout program. Most of them seem motivated and excited to be here.

Most of them have also spent the day head down in a bucket.

We anchored out off Presque Isle yesterday afternoon, waiting for the lake to calm down ome; expecting to get underway after supper today. At 0200 hands were called to weigh anchor and get underway.

I have finished another tour as assistant cook and go on deck in the morning.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Out of PIb and none too soon. Ships and sailors rot in port,and few places make that more clear. We were there for "Christmas in July" and the town was filled with crowds and alcohol enough to overdose on both.

The wind is not in our favor, so we are motoring hard into it and getting science done along the way. ETA for Erie is tomorrow evening. It will be good to be back for a few days.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


We have been mostly under sail since leaving Alpena sunday morning. We stopped briefly on the lake over a shipwreck, the Montana, giving us time to deploy a ROV to investigate. I always feel a little weird about looking closely at wrecks; There but for the grace of god go I.

After sailing down Huron, the wind came around out of the north. We have decided to try something new;we are sailing the river. To our knowledge, this is the first time any itteration of the Niagara has done this since 1814. It is exciting, making eight knots under sail down this river as it used to be done. There is also an awareness of the accuracy and precision required for this.

By this evening, we should be back in lake Erie.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


So I'm not always great at updating, but it's not always my fault. My kindle seems to be liking blogger less and less as time goes on. Hoping to find a way around that at some point.

So after leaving Erie we made our way up for the north. We ducked into Port Huron  for a couple days to avoid heavy seas and unpleasant weather. It isn't the most exciting town in the world, but over the years I've come to appreciate it. We took a quick stop in Alpena, MI and then off to the SOO locks. After the Welland, the SOO is a casual ride, lifting us all of twenty feet.

Shortly after that we made it into Lake Superior, which is always a beautiful thing. We had some nice sailing on the way to Municing, and the channel into there is truly stunning and beautiful. The giant cliffs and massive woods give the impression of truly untouched wilderness. After passing through into the sheltered harbor, we found ourselves tied up, and I was in a place I had never been.

It was a quaint little town, quiet and pleasant with good food and drink. The following day we found an amazing book store/coffee shop and had a good day.

We said goodye to our High School students, and boarded the batch of college students a  few hours later. The boat was crowded, with fourty eight people on board. Close quarters and crowded.

The run to Marquette was breezier than we expected, and we had to send our apprentices off the boat due to an overbooking situation on the trip that way, so it got pretty exciting. Marquette was a pleasant town and I got to go cliff diving.

The officers have put some effort into making sure we get time to rest on the trip down from superior, which is nice. We docked for the night just after clearing the SOO headed downbound, and then anchored after a battle recreation just outside of Lake huron.

We are in Alpena again, headed back out and south tomorrow, ready for the next adventure.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


The fourth of July back in Erie just for the day.

The trip back from Kingston involved more rest than previous trips, which was nice. There was a realization about just how hard we were going to be worked in the canal, and they tried to make up for it.

Kingston itself was complicated, with poblematic planning on the part of the organizers and a severe lack of places to dock. The battle sails went well, however and everyone had a good time with them.

The canal was pretty solidly what we expected, though it went quicker than expected; we got lucky with the traffic. I spent most of my time handling the miship spring, hauling it tight and keeping it tight. My shoulder and back still can feel it.

My shoulder doesn't seem to be getting better, but that may just be a fact of life at this point. Time to heal in october.

We got hit by a couple 45 kt blows on the run from the welland to Erie. Driving rain and some heavy gusts came at us. The second squall hit us within sight of Erie, and pushed us to drop the hook to wait it out. It was frustrating, being that close to shelter, to a sense of home, and being unable to reach it.

The students handled it well, gettings jobs done as they needed to be done. I can never tell in those kinds of situations if I am taking it too seriously, or other people don't tke it seriously enough; probably the former. I'm ok with that.

Today we right her back up and make tracks for Alpena.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Tied up at what I am told is a military academy just outside of Kingston. It has been a long few days with little down tim and less shore leave, but it has been an interesting visit. We did get in some geat sailing and had a hell of a time bombarding the town of Bath this evening.

Tomorrow morning we had back for lake Erie and to points beyond

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Thr day started with an extended swim caland our first splatline of the year. The students and crew had a good time, and the water was refreshing. All hands feeling refreshed and clean we set our sails and cruised off the hook.

It was a short hop to Bath, but things got complicated quickly. It turns out that their fancy new dock doesnt have he water for us to tie up. While the captan dealt with finding us a place the crew went aloft to harbor stow everything. She looks nice tonight.

So now energy is high as we head for Kingston. It sounds like we have to head back to Bath in the morning, but none of that matters now; The crew is ready for it. We are gatting better by the day, and these students are steping up to the bar we set.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Stood down from the 0300to0700 with a belly filled with breakfast. It was an easy watch, making six knots under topsails and fore sail. the headsails and main topmast staysail are set but we are on a downwind run so the squares are carrying the load.

Rumor has it that we will anchor tonight in Prince Edward Bay, but at this point that is just rumor. There is also talk of possible swim calls during the day. Only time will tell. On a related note, I believe I forgot my shampoo... oh well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Under sail in lake Ontario.

Getting ready this morning took longer than was anticipated, but it has proven to be all worth while. The majority of my day was taken with putting the boats davits back in place. Simple things can take surprising time.

We cut out into the lake and took a brief spin into the Niagara river. In that visit we were fired on by Fort Niagara, but sadly had no charges to spare to fire back.

Now we are crusing at seven knots if I had to guess, Toronto off on the far horizon and Kingston ahead of us. We are told that we will stop in Bath first for a few days before docking at the fort in Kingston. I know nothing of Bath, so hopefully that will be an adventure.

The students continue to exceed my expectations, and I hope they can keep the enthusiasm going.

Looks to be  beautiful night of sailing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

06/25/2012 part two

Tied up at the end of te Welland canal for the night. It has been a long day, but we have clered the locks and are ready to rig her back up.

Not much else to say, but it was worth noting.


Through lock eight of the Welland Canal and we think we are all set for the rest. This new group is proving better than we expected; very resposible and eager for their age group.

I am excited for our arrival in Kingston, having not been at a festival since last year. I understand why some people do mot care for them, and I have definitely burned ut on them in the past but it is usually a fun break in routine.

I a currently stood down but the schedule is a bit in flux so I do not know when I will be back on. down to rest while I can.

Friday, June 15, 2012


We are back in Erie after a sucessful voyage. A days rest was given to the crew and now a weekend of daysails has started. Today we are running programs with SeaGrant and Gannon University; Short education sails is my understanding. I am not on the sails today, sadly. My arm was hurting enough to warrent a doctors visit and I have been placed on restricted duty to let it rest.Laundry duty fo me. I suppose it isn't much to write about, but laundry day for the ship is alwas an imtersting thing which pushes the nearest laundromat to its limit. We took the majority of the washers, and now in the drying phase have had to leave a few loads waiting. It seems like it would be rude to tie up all the dryers... We are not the only ones here. It is always an odd momnt though, seein the ship sail off without you.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Another day, and the wind has magically held. If this contimues we will be blockading Port Colborne tonight to stall for our morning arrival. It is difficult to write about these calm, easy days because they are so uneventful. The are wonderful, however; the ship does what she was built to do. It is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


We spent last night in PIB, with the usual revalries that happen there.We also found our boat covered wth mayflies, requiring two deck washes to get the bulk of the infestation and the resulting corpses clear. We find ourselves on the way to Port Colborne with a small cadre of dragonflies to clean up the last of the mess, and I have just been stood down for much needed sleep. my feet are finally dry from the constant firehoses and i will sleep to a comfortable downwind run.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Another day on the water. The voyage contines with a day of beautiful sailing mostly in the wrong directions. The wind has been strong enough mostly, but inconsistant in direction and almost never useful. We have had a lot of sail handling though; chasing the wind around the compass. The trainees are coming along impressively, and I suspect that if we finish with a pinrail chase it will be more intene and competative than the last. My shoulder is acting up, an I think I have some swelling. I mentioned this to the med officer and we agreed if it was still a problem when we get back to Erie I will get it looked at; hopefull that wont be necessary.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


A new voyage with a new set of trainees has started. Captian says we are off for PIB, and then Port Colborne. The crew has high hopes for thi trip, with capable and eager students who have already been in a few tense situations. So far both daysails we hve done with them have involved some level of squall; today is pleasant and easy by comparison. Each trip the crew gets stronger and more closely knit, but I think the trainees are becoming more important to our well being. With any luck, all the groups will be as good as this one.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Amother day on the water. We plled out of PIB after a quick provisioming run, casting off around 1100 with light air and calm conditions. There has been lss sailing on this leg, and the emgines are getting more exercise; it is the way of things sometimes. My tour in the galley is nearly up and I am excited to get back on deck. I find it hard being around all this excitemnt and staying focused on dishwashing and serving. It is, however, a part of the job. Some of the trainees have expressed frustrations to me. I understand how overwhelming all of this can be; I hope I never forget that. I find it vital to the teaching process. I am also pleased that I can be there for them. sometimes you need to vent and someone needs to be there to listen and to help you through it. I fear that I am becoming an educator.

Friday, May 18, 2012


We arrived near Put-In Bay a few hours after breakfast yesterday and the captaim sailed her onto the hook.Bright sun and a warm easterly breeze for the rest of the da lead to a pleasant lunch on deck. The students went out on the small boats and took a class on celestlial navigation while the majority of the pro crew re tuned the lower main shrouds. Now the hook is being raised and we plan to sail off and in towards PIB to pick up some local friends amd go cruise the battleground. I always wonder at this point what the students are getting from the experience and if it is what we intend. More than anything, I personally hope more than anything that they learn how to be a crew. On a boat or at a minimum wage job or even a high paying office job (I assume) tere is a utility to that mindset; particulrly if you can instill it in people around you as well. Many hands don't always make for light work. The sense of crew can make any job bearable.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Enterimg day two of the voyage a bit tired. the excitement of yesterdays begining was tempered by the bulk of the trainees falling seasick in various degrees. I found myself spending a good deal of time doing dishes because the watch coldnt spare a hand or deliverng broth and tea to the sick. Conditions have calmed though,and all hands seem better for it. We ae currently drifting lazily off Put-In Bay with rumors of small boat work to come. Me, I intend to go catch a quick nap.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Apologies for a lack of updates. It has beem somehow both busy and lacking in interesting stories.But now, glorious sailing. We have our trainees from UCONN here with us on the morning of our first voyage.We are cruising full and by on tops, t'gallants' and our fore and afts under a comfortably fresh breeze. The students don't seem to fully appreciate where they are right now, but the energy in the crew is wonderful. This is why we are here. I am in the assistant cook position for the rest of the week, keeping me down below more than I like, but it is a small price to pay for being here. The crew hasn't been given much detail on were this voyage will take us, but that's fun as well. Adventure is afoot.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Wild Rumpus

So this is, I think, my first real deviation on theme here, but one that I think is worth it. Maurice Sendak has passed away. I saw him speak a few years ago, and the man was kind of insane and terrifying, and I believe a little terrified about the world that has come to be. But he was still brilliant. I really don't think I can sum up the importance I think that he has had in the world; the lessons that he taught those of us who read his books, or had them read to us. So I guess all the things I want to say sum up with a plea, and a warning. If you have kids, or grandkids *coughMOMcough* read Where the Wild Things Are to them. They should hear it. You should make funny voices while you do it. And if I know you, and you have kids, I will find a way to get them a wolf suit. Let the Wild Rumpus Start


So this is my 100th post on here, which may make it the most long term thing I've kept writing in since livejournal. I'm not sure that it really requires any kind of commemoration, nor would I really know what to say about it; I just am a little pumped about it. Today was our coast guard inspection, which we passed fairly comfortably. The safety drill section got a little hectic, but they also presented us with a rather complex and unrealistic set of conditions to work with. I do not see this as a bad thing, however. Yes, we handled it about as well as could be expected, especially at this point in the season. We made a few glaring mistakes, and that shows us where we need to improve. There is a charm in that kind of training because it makes the real thing so much easier. It is also difficult to simulate the urgency and panic of a normal crisis, so by piling lots of things on top of each other, you better approximate the chaos. Train hard for easy combat. We are already getting faster and cleaner at setting sail and basic ships handling, and will hopefully continue to get better. We have the makings of a really crack crew, and if we can keep that going, we will get Niagara doing some really amazing things this summer. I look forward to the possibilities. Tomorrow evening the trainees arrive. We will see what that brings.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Another day another sail. We spent the morning working on a few fixes, some glitches from yesterday. Nothing major, just a few new leads for lines and raising the gaff a bit higher. It was a very light air day, and we started out in the bay just practicing tacks and wares. My first turn on helm came about a bit later in the sail as we made a light downwind run for the channel out into the bay. Even under leisurely speeds, you can't help but have a moment of awe about that responsibility. Though responsibility is a thing that we deal with all the time, to such a degree that we tend to forget it. The rig of Niagara, or any sail boat for that matter, is a powerful machine, and if you make a foolish mistake, the consequences can be dire. Two days in a row I have been responsible for handling the halyard when taking in the main tops'l and t'gallant. With a turn around a little wooden pin I have lowered, as fast as I could without losing control, hundreds and hundreds of pounds of wood and canvas above the heads of my shipmates. If I dropped it, the lifts should catch it, the gear should catch it... but at the end of the day those things could also fail; The risks are very real. I also spent a decent part of the day aloft with volunteers furling, and running around the rig a bit. I forget sometimes how hard it is for people, and need to focus more on being patient and understanding. I think it may be more of a challenge this season than last, because the crew knows each other so well; knows each others strengths and weaknesses to a point where we just get things done with very little open communication. It can get really difficult to actually articulate and explain things when you get used to that. Must remember not to get flustered. Hopefully another short sail tomorrow, and then a few days rest before the Coast Guard pays us a visit.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


First proper sail for the season. Today was our shakedown sail, and apparently the first time the boat has gone into her sailing season without a need for serious repairs since our captain has sailed with her. We worked hard and were congratulated for it, which was nice. We got her out into the lake and got her dressed up nice, setting all the canvas we have on board just to look for any weird kinks that needed to be sorted out. I was sent up to the main t'gallant to free up some trapped stuff half way through setting it, and we definitely had a couple other small things go awry, but at the end of the day, we did a good job. Having a crew who has mostly done this before has been a huge benefit to us, and the officers say this has been one of the least stressful uprigs they've ever experienced. So on Tuesday we have our Coast Guard inspection, and on Wednesday our first set of trainees arrive. The season is really getting started now. I, for one, am really excited for the new students to get here. Trainees offer a unique experience of getting to take someone far away from the reality they understand and push them into something they've never quite experienced before. If I may wax philosophical for a bit here, which I can (it is my blog, after all) I think there is a value in having your reality shaken up from time to time; We do that as well as anyone, far as I can tell. So you get to see people pushed to their limits; people being overwhelmed. You get to watch people struggle and with a little guidance and support, overcome it. Even more, you get to watch them realize that they can overcome it. And for me, it's an opportunity to study myself a little better, and better to learn how to teach and train. How to better communicate and build a team. These are skills that are never bad to have and practice. As the mate said last night, we all have been working very hard and we sometimes forget why. We sometimes forget that she is a sailboat, and we're here to sail. Today, as the engines were cut and we got to feel her start to dance with the wind for the first time of the year, we all remembered. The next step is getting other people to see that, to feel it... and just maybe feel the way we do about it. Here's to a good season with a good crew on a good boat. Time to get started.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


So this may end up being a long, rambling post. We will see. We have Niagara pretty well dressed; All but one yard is up. We have a few sails ready to go and others that shouldn't take too long to rig up. We have had fairly lucky weather, and have had lots of volunteers to help us with it. It's been a great season so far and the crew is well meshed and is generally a really solid team. Station Maine came and went, and it was a wonderful visit. It is really impressive to see teenagers working hard on such a strange thing, and really caring about it. We have this sort of idea about teenagers and how we expect them to believe. Station Maine has, twice now, reminded me that teenagers are really just people, and it's all about proper motivation to get them to understand the stakes, and responsibilities that they find themselves experiencing. It sounds dumb to say it that way, but it's the truth. It's way too easy to fall back on preconceptions and stereotypes. I've also taken a share of compliments and suggestions in the past bit of time, which I'm always a little weird about. I've never taken them well. I'm told that I don't bitch much, which is a good thing... that I'm a hard worker. I don't really see myself that way, I just do my job, but hey. More interesting to me was that someone recently told me that I'm clearly going to open a school. I've rarely really considered myself a teacher, but I'm starting to see some sort of pattern with it coming out more and more. I will say, having jumped back and fourth between sailing and "the real world" that were I ever to open any kind of business ashore, I would staff it with as many tall ship sailors as I could. It's just a different mindset, and a much more productive one. I was also called a "great role model" which always makes me nervous. I do, however, make a fantastic hot chocolate, and take full pride in that. I'll take that compliment well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


So since I'm sitting here I guess I should do a bit more of a post.
We're getting her nicely dressed, though it has been some long days getting to that. Most of the yards are crossed, and most of those that are, are dressed as well. We have two sails ready to set right now, and could go for a heck of a downwind run with the fores'l and the spanker, and will hopefully get the gear set up for the tops'ls and the fore topmast stays'l tomorrow. The rig is mostly tuned and tight and after lots of eventful days, she's starting to look like herself again.

We have a couple weeks till it's time to get going, and we are all fairly confident we can get there.


A little shout out

So the kids from Station Maine are here visiting the Niagara again and being ever so helpful and generally a lot of fun. You should all check out their website ( or find them on facebook. You should also probably follow the blog at

It's a fantastic organization and they really do great work.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


It was a long trip home last night. Little room for sleep in the birth deck, and a lack of bedding made for restlessness. I found myself wedged between division boxes and spent batteries trying to get some fitful sleep.

It was nice, however, to be back on the water. Even the lack of sleep and the spitting rain couldn't really detract from that.

We had a late start this afternoon, and then got to work getting the boat ready for the upcoming month. We did a field day, cleaning the birth deck and galley after getting all the gear out and into the shop. We also moved a fair amount of lumber. Not the most exciting day ever, but most of us were fine with a lack of excitement this time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


First off, I would like to apologize for not posting more while in yard. The work was not something I felt overly inspired to write about. While I did learn a lot, it wouldn't be an interesting read. We did get the hull repirs a few planks above the waterline and I am a lot more confident with a sledge hammer.

Now we are on the way back to Erie to finish repairs and get her rigged for the season. our coast guard inspection is in a month and I am confident that we will be ready. We have a strong crew and what looks to be an interesting season.

It feels good to have so many good people around; surrounded by old crew. It is hard to explain the feeling of belnging that a ship can give you. As hard as it got last year, and as hard as it will likely be this year, it feels good to be back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Shipyard in Cleveland and lots to do. My arms are sore and tired from planking, and we have hit a few setbacks but hopefully tomorrow will be a strong day and we will start making back some time.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Day two of the 2012 season and I found myself in cleveland working on the boat. The repairs are fairly daunting, but the team there is good and planking is scheduled to start monday. I was mostly used for heavy lifting, batteries, old lumber and the like. I also helped the mate pull nails out of the hull. It is a bit more of a process than I expected.

I find myself more and more excited for the season. I think our crew is strong and I think we will work well together. Tomorrow will be a bonding experience I believe.

But for now, it's time to turm in.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


A new season on Niagara starts again. The ship is not here, but I am going to see her in the shipyard tomorrow. massive repairs are underway and we plan to have her ready by shakedown. Much to do, but we have a strong crew to make it happen.

Last season was hard, without question. We have put those troubles out of mind however, and today was filled with excitement for the upcoming season. I know that I have plenty. As strange as it is to be here without her, it is still good to be back.