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Daily Log: Friday, July 1

0700 hours

Current Position: Anchored at Niantic Bay, CT.
Latitude: N 41˚ 18.7'
Longitude: W 072˚ 11.4'

Day Two of the first leg of the 2011 Fresh River Voyage of Discovery.

As our crew rises to greet their first full day on board the Half Moon, Captain Reynolds gathers them together around the capstan to discuss our plans for the day to come.

Mouse over to run the capstan!
Kristin and Mr. Roy run the lower capstan.

0815 hours

After breakfast, it's time for us to get underway. This is our new crew's first chance to weigh anchor, a complex process that requires the cooperation of every sailor operating all over the ship.

As part of our preparations, Kristen and Mr. Roy guide the anchor rode around the lower capstan, leading it from the hawsehole (where it enters the ship) back up to the bits (where it's made secure).

0845 hours

We're ready to go. Exactly one deck up, the capstan team gathers 'round and inserts their capstan bars. They'll use this massive winch to haul in the anchor.

As the capstan team reels in the line, Erica and Lydia fake (neatly fold) the anchor rode at the bow while Ms. Read tends to the bits. By the time the chain runs in, their job is nearly done.

Throughout the procedure, Kelsey acts as communicator, promptly relaying commands between Captain Reynolds on the Quarter deck and the belowdecks team on the orlop.

0915 hours

Once the anchor is up and secured on the fore channel, we set the courses and head out.

As Jay steps into position at lookout, Joey braces the fore course to the wind.

1015 hours

While underway, we indulge ourselves in a deck wash. The salt water of Long Island Sound acts as a natural preservative for the ship's wooden planks, so it's healthy for the Half Moon to enjoy a seawater bath. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it helps our crew beat the heat!

1030 hours

After the deck wash, Ryan brings up snacks from the galley.

1045 hours

As we leave Niantic Bay, we turn west toward our next destination. To continue riding the winds will require some adjustment of the sails. Hannah stands ready to set the main course while Joey waits in position to help brace the fore.

Meanwhile, Kelsey and Kristin are both acting as lookout as they take in the scenery.

We continue to practice our sail handling as we continue on our way through Long Island Sound.

With shipcraft well in hand, it's time for our crew to turn their attention toward river science and the projects the students will present at the end of their voyage.

While the students work the sails, the teachers meet with Captain Reynolds on the Quarter deck for a quick briefing.

1130 hours

As we approach the duty change from Port to Starboard Watch, the teachers convene the students around the capstan for an orientation session. This is their first introduction to the topics they will research and the instruments they will use.

1200 hours

Our first opportunity to get hands-on with the scientific gear is fast approaching.

A tidal boll.

We're currently passing the mouth of the Connecticut River (which we'll enter tomorrow). The powerful currents here create a tidal boll where the waters of the Connecticut River pour into Long Island Sound with such force that you can actually see the distinct line where the two currents meet. (In the photo above, the river water is the slightly paler wedge in the center, bordered by a line of sea foam.)

This grants us a prime and unique opportunity to study salinity. As we pass into the boll, the students use canvas buckets to collect water samples from just inside and just outside the border.

The students then take measurements of these neighboring waters to learn whether there actually is a difference between the two water flows. They use a refractometer to measure the water's salinity (as Erica is doing here), and a digital thermometer to measure the surface water temperature.

Ms. Reilly and Ms. Read use distilled water to clean the prepare the hydrometer between uses.

The students make some slight but interesting differences between the composition of the two currents; the visual difference between the waters isn't just a trick of the light. To learn what the students discovered, however, you'll have to visit the Learning Pages!

1300 hours

Mr. McLaughlin serves lunch of the weather deck as some of the students are heading aloft for the first time. This afternoon's meal is a light repast of subs and pasta salad.

But let's talk about those climbers! All of our new and returning crew members underwent harness training yesterday as part of their initial orientation to the ship, but now they have the opportunity to complete their hang tests, the final requirement they must pass before they're cleared to work aloft.

Mr. Shoemaker leads Eliu into the shrouds while Ms. Read directs him from the deck. Whenever we have crew working in the rig, we keep an experienced climber on deck in a harness to keep a close eye on them, just as an extra safety precaution.

1400 hours

As the afternoon continues, the crew keep working on their line handling skills. With coiling and belaying under their belt, Erica, Eliu, and Mr. Kilgus move on to knot tying under Ms. Reilly instruction.

In the meantime, more and more students are being cleared to climb. Mr. de Jong guides Jacob as the latter ascends for his hang test.

1515 hours

We've slipped inside Duck Island Roads, a sheltered cove that often serves us as an anchorage during our travles on the Sound. We'll be spending the night here, but for now, we're sharing the space with a sailing class.

Since this is the start of the 4th of July weekend, we expect to see huge numbers of small boats on the water, and so far they're living up to our expectations.

Raheem and Kelsey keep a sharp lookout as we approach our anchorage. With this much small vessel traffic buzzing past us, they need to pay extra sharp attention to the Half Moon's surroundings.

Mouse over to sweat and
tail the anchor tackle!
Raheem sweats the anchor tackle while Jay tails.

1530 hours

As we reach our destination for the day, Raheem and Jay sweat and tail the anchor tackle...

...lifting it just off the fore channel so Mr. de Jong and Eliu can move it into position before the fore deck team lowers the anchor to the waterline.

Our anchor weighs 300 lbs., and its chain weighs even more. Even with the mechanical advantage granted by the block-and-tackle setup we use, you can see above that Raheem is really putting his weight into it.

Mouse over to set the anchor!
Eliu and Mr. de Jong set the anchor.

Current Position: Anchored at Duck Island Roads, CT.
Latitude: N 41˚ 15.8'
Longitude: W 072˚ 28.8'

Eliu and Mr. de Jong pull the fid on command, and the anchor plunges to the bottom. Our second day of sail has reached its conclusion, but there's still plenty of life left in the day.

1600 hours

We have lots to do. But first, snacks. Mr. McLaughlin sends a round of warm cookies up from the galley.

This afternoon features another test of the live video streaming we're developing for future voyages. Mr. Shoemaker calls the shots as the teachers introduce first themselves and then a few students, each of whom briefly discusses a chosen topic. Erica here explains the Task Matrix...

...while Raheem demonstrates how to use the capstan, to offer just two examples. For now, the purpose of these videos is simply to provide a test run for the technology itself (with the bugs and hiccups that brings), but as a reminder, you can receive up-to-the-minute announcements for broadcast schedules and watch these videos live by subscribing to our e-mail newsletter.

1730 hours

A relaxed atmosphere settles in as the afternoon continues. On the weather deck, several students are learning some advanced linework. Mr. de Jong is teaching students how to whip a line...

...while Eliu, Hannah, and others practice tying bowline knots.

Mr. de Jong shows Erica and Kristin how rope is composed of three strands that wind around each other. (Each of those strands being a string, with each string being made up of three entwined strands of yarn.) Whipping prevents these strands from separating or fraying, and thus extends the life of the line.

1745 hours

It's chicken stew and fresh biscuits for dinner tonight. Most of the crew retreats to the shade of the orlop deck to enjoy their meal.

1845 hours

After dinner, the teachers gather the students back on the weather deck for another project meeting. The teachers assign research topics and senior crew advisors to each team of students.

After the initial briefing, the teams break up to meet with their individual advisors.

Ms. Reilly and Ms. Read are working with Raheem, Lydia, and Ryan. They will be studying celestial tracking, the motion of objects in space.

For now, their plan is to track the rise and fall of the sun over the course of a full day to determine the point where it reaches its zenith. Those plans will later change, as it turns out, but heedless of the future, they start training with their instruments.

Mr. Kilgus and Mr. Woodworth are working with Jacob, Jay, and Kristen to study mechanical advantage. Tonight they just discuss plans and theory, but tomorrow they'll assemble a rig to test the principle.

1900 hours

Kelsey and Hannah are studying the height of tide with Ms. Falvey. He's heading out onto the channel to start practicing.

He and Hannah will use two instuments to measure the rise and fall of the tides. A depth marker will be mounted on the dock during our data collection layover at Rock Landing, but they'll also use a traditional lead line to compare the accuracy of their results.

1915 hours

The students aren't the only new crew members eager to go aloft (or the only ones who have to complete thorough training to do so). While the students focus on planning their projects, Mr. Kilroy takes his hang test and climbs the rig.

1930 hours

Last but not least, Eliu, Erica, and Joey are studying current speeds with Mr. Roy. They make a few test runs tonight, timing a wooden biscuit as it floats alongside the weather deck.

As Mr. Kilroy reaches the main top, we find that Raheem is already waiting for him there. These new climbers (and their escort, Mr. Woodworth) spend some time admiring the view from roughly six stories above the water.

Some instruments, such as the hand-held compass Eliu is training with here, are useful to multiple teams. Eliu is using the compass to determine the direction from which the current is flowing, while the Celestial Tracking team uses it to determine the azimuth (compass bearing) of the objects they'll be tracking.

As the day wraps up, Erica and Hannah take a break at the rail to reflect.

2000 hours

Mr. Woodworth does his part to furl the main course on his way back down from the main top.

Mouse over to see whether
Raheem exits the rig properly!
Raheem climbs down out of the rig perfectly while Ms. Read observes.

2015 hours

We always stress the important of maintaining three points of contact at all times when working off the deck. One of the most precarious places for climbers is not 80 feet up in the rig, but right here, three feet of the deck: the moment the climber transitions from the rig to the deck or vice versa. Climbers must maintain three points of contact right up until the moment that both feet are back on the deck and they have clipped their safety harness back into itself. Ms. Read watches Raheem closely as he climbs down. Mouse over and observe closely to see if he passes inspection.

With the sun setting and all the sails furled for the night, the rest of our rig teams follow Raheem back to the deck.

2030 hours

The students continue practicing with all of the instruments as the day ends. Eliu is out on the port channel, training to take soundings with the lead line.

2100 hours

Just after sunset, Captain Reynolds convenes another crew meeting to review the day's activities and go over our second anchor watch meeting. Following the captain's briefing, Mr. de Jong provides a short astronomy lesson to any interested parties.

2200 hours

While the students settle into a quiet evening, the ship stays active right up until light's out. Down in the galley, Mr. McLaughlin and his helpers are already working on preparing tomorrow's breakfast.

As the crew beds down and anchor watch begins, we pass through another calm, clear night on the ship. Tomorrow, we'll turn back east and begin our journey up the Connecticut River.

Next Time: Inland Exploration!

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