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ProLog: Saturday, September 4, 2010

As any experienced volunteer with the Half Moon knows, Voyages of Discovery actually begin long before the students step on board. A great deal of preparation goes into any trip aboard a sailing vessel. Although the voyage isn't set to officially begin until Thursday, September 9th, work has been underway for weeks, including a three-day transit voyage to position the ship in Staten Island, where the students will board.

Since we cover the actual Voyage of Discovery in the Daily Log, we'll cover this preparatory voyage here, in the "Pro-Log."

1200 hours

Ship's Position: Docked at Peckham Materials in Athens, NY.
Latitude: 42˚ 16.2' N
Longitude: 073˚ 48.1' W

After days of effort, the Half Moon is ready to depart from Athens Channel, our seasonal base of operations.

The crew has arrived and is ready to board! We have a good mix of experienced hands and new recruits.

1230 hours

Captain Reynolds welcomes everyone on board with a standard health and safety briefing, covering procedures for emergenies such as fires and man overboard.

1300 hours

We've timed our departure to take the best advantage of the tides. Time to stow our gear and get moving! Mr. Lyte carries our homemade tidal depth measure on board.

Of course, the board has been in the water since our Half Moon Discoveries video voyage in July, so it could probably do with some scrubbing.

1315 hours

Time for our final depature procedures. This comes in two stages.

First, while Ms. Laufer and Ms. Waiboer adjust docking line three, Mr. Hensel, Lyke, Kluz, and Fronhofer haul the gangway on shore and store it safely.

1330 hours

With the gangway now out of the picture, the dockside crew can't get back to the ship by themselves a double line of wide fenders (seen in the first photo) creates a 10-foot gap between ship and shore. First Mate Hansen uses the Zodiak (the ship's inflatable tender boat) to transport Mr. Fronhofer and Mr. Lyte back to the ship. Mr. Hensel and Mr. Kluz remain on shore for now; their work is not yet done.

The crew hauls in the dock lines. This requires coordination between the dockside and shipboard crews...

...and adding a few extra hands to a line doesn't hurt either.

Mouse over to sweat and tail!
Ms. Waiboer and Ms. Laufer sweat and tail a line.

With the lines freed, Mr. Hansen ferries the remaining dockside crew back to the ship. With all hands on board, the Half Moon is truly underway.

The crew hauls the Zodiac up on its gear to clear it from the water.

1345 hours

As we leave Athens Channel, all hands fall into position. Some of the crew take down the tarp that's been protecting the main hatch stairwell. It's a handy shelter when the ship is sitting at a dock, but a bit unsightly when we're underway — particularly on such a cool and sunny day as this!

As we leave the dock, Starboard Watch is on duty. Ms. Ducharme is the first crew member to take the helm.

1600 hours

It's smooth traveling as we begin our journey south, so the crew busy themselves with various tasks as the afternoon progresses. In this case, Mr. Hensel performs some basic maintenance on the port side rail while Mr. Van Aken, Mr. Lyke, and Ms. Robertson offer moral support.

1615 hours

We could hardly ask for better weather; cool temperatures, cloud-dappled skies, and a stiff breeze. Now, if only the wind weren't blowing in a northerly direction! It seems our fate is to make this trip under motor. On the other hand, we're making excellent time; we originally scheduled this transit as a four-day voyage, but now Captain Reynolds plans to arrive at Staten Island on the 6th, a day early.

1645 hours

The relaxed crew spends their time scanning the horizon, whether they're standing lookout or just sightseeing.

1700 hours

Ms. Niehaus and Ms. Laufer have also been using their time to bring our new bosun, Ms. Waiboer, up to speed on what new duties the Voyage of Discovery will bring.

1715 hours

Our new crew members need harness training, just as the students will in a few days. Mr. Hensel leads Ms. Ducharme and Ms. DuBois through the orientation.

One at a time, they climb into the rig and successfully perform their hang tests.

1745 hours

The sunlight grows more intense as the sun sinks toward the western shore. We're passing Kingston, and currently plan on anchoring just south of Esopus Island but those plans will soon change!

1800 hours

Mr. Hensel looks in as Ms. Laufer trains Ms. Waiboer on the helm not just in its use, but in how to train others to use it as well.

1830 hours

As we approach our planned anchorage, a high pressure system sweeps through the region on an easterly course. It brings light rains in its wake (which last only a few minutes) and, more problematically, gusting winds.

1845 hours

Captain Reynolds calls the ship's officers to the Quarter deck to discuss a change of plan. Due to the weather conditions and the presence of a few small boats already anchored in the area, the Esopus anchorage is no longer a secure location to spend the night. Instead, we'll backtrack about an hour to Kingston.

1930 hours

Mr. McLaughlin serves dinner as the sun sets and we approach our anchorage, just south of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. Tonight's dinner is old-fashioned summer fare: hamburgers (cooked to order) and corn on the cob.

Our anchorage is somewhat deceptive; we're out in the middle of the river, but it happens that on this spot on the Hudson, the main shipping channel squeezes off to one side. Shallow bars line the side channel we occupy, but they pose no danger. The strong, northerly wind continues through the night, creating great sleeping weather. The crew maintains anchor watch until dawn, and all is well.

Next Time: Onward to King Marine!

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