New Sea 2010 - Days 10-12

Day 10
  Wake. Run. Dip.  The morning of Monhegan was not the best for our crew.  It was one of those "brains not fully operational" times.  It began with Rip Hudner ending up on a rock because the tide went out farther than we had adjusted for on the anchor lines.  Totally avoidable.  Then we didn't put out enough scope to hold two boats on one anchor and our anchor began to drag, almost running Rip Hudner along some large rocks.  And finally, when Rip Hudner cast off and set sails they didn't fall behind Ritt and almost sailed back into her.

  Our route had us circumnavigating the island so we could get a better view of the cliffs.  While sailing we got a glimpse of a finback whale.  The day before we had a minke get within a few hundred yards of the boat.  And during the whole training we saw lots of seals popping their heads out to say hello.

  Our next destination was Burnt Island.  This was another short sailing day, but it was an anticipated destination.  Today we were going to have an overnight solo.  We were out at our solo sights by around 5pm.  I quickly put up my tarp, did the little bit of homework they gave us, and went to bed.  I believe I got about 12 hours of sleep that night.  I went to bed before it was dark and was back up after sunrise.
Day 11
  Once we were all back together in the morning we dipped down by the pier.  A lobster fishing family was at the pier that day getting ready for a bbq.  They found great amusement in watching us all run into the cold water.  Oddly enough none of them took us up on the offer to join in on our fun.  After dip we made breakfast and debriefed our solo experiences.  Then we were put on a scavenger hunt of the island.  Burnt Island is the current solo and rock climbing site for OB.  The scavenger hunt took us all around the island and ended with us being placed on Final Expedition.

Day 12
   Since we had to be back at Wheeler Bay by 6am, we woke up in Tennet's Harbor around 4:30 and began our three mile journey to base.  We were greeted with chocolate chip pancakes and eggs.  After removing some of our gear we were given our last water challenge.  The tri-fecta of capsizes; it was time to tip over a Sharpie!  Redwing was gracious enough to let us tip her over.  Since capsizing a Sharpie requires jumping on the masts to get them to turtle, we just laid her on her side and righted her again.  With 11 people on a boat meant for 8, it was fairly easy to tip.  Staying trimmed while bailing was a bit harder to do.

  After finishing our last water challenge we divided and conquered cleaning the boats and gear.  Training officially ended by lunch time and we all went back to the staff house for much needed showers.

New Sea 2010 - Days 6-9

Day 6
 Wake. Run. Dip.  The only difference this morning was that the two new members of our crew had to do their swim assessment along with morning dip.  We had a lovely breakfast of eggs and bagels.  A couple of the folks had found fresh herbs on the island the day before and we added them to our eggs.  Then we took a walk up to the ICP (ice cold pond) and our trainers were gracious enough to explain the group initiative that takes place there, but not have us actually do it.  Oh, and we also learned how to make a coonskin hat as demonstrated by one of the crew.

  We loaded back onto the Mighty 12 and headed off to Dix Island.  The next day we were arriving back to Wheeler Bay in order to take a few tests and switch over to the Sharpies for the rest of training.  On the way we were greeted by a motor boat with a fellow OB instructor, the man who maintains Dix island, and some stranger who, in the span of five minutes, managed to convey all known "cool/hip/rad/surfer" hand signals to our boat.

Day 7
 Wake. Dip.  Time to sail back to base for a fun filled day of testing.  We arrived at Wheeler Bay around 12:30 and ate lunch on the mooring.  Once we were docked, we began the process of changing into swim clothes for the our swim test.  The swim test included jumping off an 18 foot pier with our PFD on, taking it off and placing it onto the dock, then swimming out about 70 feet to rescue a victim and bring them back to the dock.  After that you swam about 10 yards underwater.  The final element was diving down 10 feet and grabbing dirt from the bottom.  We all successfully completed the swim test!

  On a side note:  Don't try to fix your own coffee after swimming in 48 degree water.  I mistakenly put lemonade powder in mine instead of powdered milk.  It was rather disappointing and I had to make another coffee.

  The rest of the day we spent reviewing and taking the Maine Wilderness Guide test and our Safe Boating test for Outward Bound.  Mixed into the day was a great talk by Bob Rowe about OB history.  I would have enjoyed the talk more had I not gotten sunscreen in my eye and it was causing me distracting pain the whole time.  That night we slept in one of the student tents and dreamt about our second capsize drill to be done in the morning.

Day 8 
  No run and dip today.  Nope, today our mission was to capsize the Mighty 12 underway with a gybe.  In addition to that we were all wearing our foul weather gear.  In a highly scientific experiment I wore my SmartWool under my foulies to see if it would keep me any warmer.  I'm not sure how well it did while I was in the water, but I believe it kept me warmer once I was back on the boat.  We successfully gybed and capsized the boat.  It was really awesome watching her rise back out of the sea.  It reminded me of the scene in Pirates where they flip the boat and leave Davy Jones' Locker.

  Once we sailed the boat back to the pier the majority of the crew started cleaning her up, while five of us went to go get our pre-employment drug tests done.  When we returned the whole crew split into two as Sharpies only hold six students each.  The two boat crews, Ritt and Rip Hudner, spent the next couple hours packing food and gear onto the boats.  We left Wheeler Bay early in the afternoon and headed a short ways to Long Cove for the evening anchorage.

Day 9 
 Wake. Dip.  Off to Monhegan Island.  This was a  pretty straight shot so we took the opportunity to due more MOBs (man overboard drills).  Tommy, our energetic crew member who resembled a round fender attached to a cooking pot (please don't make fun of him), offered to keep jumping off our boats.  He also performed this altruistic task when we were sailing on the Pulling Boat.  Almost 15 times he jumped overboard to help us hone our MOB skills.  As an added bonus our trainer took away our rudder and we had to save Tommy steering only by our sails.  Amazingly enough he never got hypothermia.

  When we arrived in Monhegan we were given an island welcome as people flung themselves off the local pier when we rowed into the bay.  We were happy to find out when we asked them how the water was, that it was wet.  We anchorage ashore and set off for an hour to explore.  One of the crew and I found a fun path that lead us to the white cliffs on the other side of the island.  In order not to be late back to the boats we had to do a bit of running, but it was nice to get the legs moving after sitting on a boat.

New Sea 2010 - Days 2-5

Day 2
  The first bit of business on day two was to capsize Pulling Boat 12.  The mighty 12 was going to be our vessel for the next six days of training.  We got up at 5:30am, put on our swim clothes (covered by warm layers) and met at the pier to strip out boat for the drill.  We were briefed on the process, went for a short run, and quickly boarded the boat.  After being towed to a mooring ball we all lined up on the port gunwhale and flipped our boat.  We successfully righted her and began bailing like crazy.  This was to end up being the first of three capsize drills during training.

  After swimming in from the boat it was time to get warm again.  All I remember is being intently focused on the ladder as I swam back to the pier.  The overcast, rainy, cold weather of the previous day had been replaced by a sunny, and slightly warmer air temperature which made warming up a ton easier.

  The next bit of business was packing the boat and setting sail.  We got left the dock in the early afternoon and headed off toward Penobscot Bay.  With favorable winds, we managed to extend the planned mileage by about 13.  It was a nice sail across the bay and we tucked in just north of Hurricane Sound on the southwest side of Vinal Haven.  It was also the first night of anchor watch.  Luckily none of our watches lasted more than 50 minutes a person.

Day 3
  We woke up at 5:30am with great anticipation of only dipping in the cold water.  Yes, at least for a couple days we were saved from staying in the water too long.  I have perfected the five second dip.  This was followed by an amazing breakfast of fried bagels and hot cocoa.

  Today's big adventure was setting foot on land.  We pulled into our afternoon anchorage and began a massive hike of 300 feet about sea level.  Ok, it wasn't that impressive, but the view from the top was awesome.  We played on the island for about an hour and then set out to Seal Trap for our evening anchorage.  Equipped with both local "facts" and "myth" we successfully began a running joke about Seal Trappe that lasted the rest of training.

Day 4
  Guess what time we woke up today?  That's right, bright and early at 5:30am.  It should be noted that sunrise was occurring around 5am, so the sky was bright when the wake up call was announced by the last person on anchor watch.  Again we practiced our quick dips in the cold water.

  Today's sail brought us to a lovely anchorage on the western side of Vinal Haven.  We were missing two trainees which we had to pick up at North Haven the next day.  One had been ill and the other was coming from school.

Day 5
  Wake up and dip.  This morning was a quick breakfast because had to beat the tide to make it up a very short bridge.  And by short I mean that we had to step the masts, switch to a steering oar, and I had to bend over slightly when we went under it.  The width of the bridge wasn't much bigger.  Our boat had about two feet of clearance on either side.  After we made it through each of us got a chance to try the steering oar.  We paddled until we made it to the Fox Island Thorofare where we set up our sails again and headed to the pier to get our last two comrades.

  When we arrived we tied the boat off to the dock and were given a short time to walk around town. My first experience in a small Maine fishing town left me feeling like I had walked around a backstage lot from a movie set.  It was Sunday, so the whole town was closed.  Time to get to Hurricane Island!

 Bit of history:  For over 40 years Outward Bound ran the Sea Program fully/or partially from Hurricane Island.  The last few years OB was not able to use the island.  Once again we have, if just in a smaller capacity, access to the island beginning this summer.

  Finally we faced our first natural navigation challenge.  The famous Maine fog decided to roll in during the afternoon.  Time to put on our navigational game faces, sharpen our dead reckoning skills, and have a blast with the newest challenge.  I got to take the tiller for a bit during the fog.  It was great seeing land, then the land disappearing, then tacking hoping to find the land again and rejoice when you ended up where you thought you would.

  Unfortunately, the fog receded and left us again with clear skies.  We also ended up rowing for a good part of the day as we approached Hurricane.  We docked the boat and went on a walk of the island.  Our trainers took us up to the "crack" for a group initiative.  I am a bit claustrophobic and standing in between two large rocks with only inches of space in front of me had me making a quick mental pro/con list for whether this was worse or better than dipping in 48 degree water.

  That night we anchored off of Hurricane with more fun to be had on the island the next morning.

New Sea 2010 - Day 1

One Long Decision.  This was the name we choose for our watch.  How true it was.  The joke goes, "How many Outward Bound instructors does it take to change a lightbulb?"  "One to change it, and 5 more to debrief it."  When you gather 11 trainees together on one boat you have a similar issue; simple things taking longer than normal.

On May 18th I left the warmth of sunny Florida to fly up to the cooler weather of Maine.  This would be my first visit to the lovely state of Maniacs.  I arrived in the afternoon only to sit at the airport of a few hours waiting for my ride, a fellow OB trainee, to pick me up.  My ride arrived about 4:30 and we headed from Portland to Spruce Head.  I am now convinced after the drive that Maine has the most Dunkin Donuts per capita/square miles of any State.

The next day at 5pm started New Sea Training.  I was already fearing the daily dips in the 48 degree Maine waters.  I had been tracking the water temperatures on the internet for weeks.  I had done lots of research on the affects of cold water on the body and tried to convince myself to believe the comments about the benefits of cold water swimming.  In order to come to grips with my anxiety I walked down to the pier and stuck my hand in the water for about 30 seconds.  This action confirmed my disillusion with all the positive research I had read.  That water was cold!

We met as a group for the first time at 5pm that day.  Having gotten a short tour of the base earlier, I had my hopes dashed that I would get a day reprieve from jumping into the water by the program director.  His casual comment was confirmed during out first gathering when our trainers announced, "Go get your run and dip clothes on."  Those eight words resulted in a blood pressure rise of about 100 points.  The time had come to face my dread of cold water.  We went on a short one mile run and ended at the pier.  One by one we jumped in for our swim assessment which consisted of swimming 10 yards on our stomach and 10 yards on our back along the pier.  Well, I survived my first immersion in sub 50 degree waters.  After a short evening meeting, that concluded day one of training.