POINT LOOKOUT WELCOMES THE SAILING SCHOOL VESSEL
On the morning of Tuesday, April 24th, 2001, the Fishing Vessel Day Star stood out from Jones Inlet to rendezvous with the Sailing School Vessel Harvey Gamage, a two masted gaff rig, 131 foot wooden schooner. Aboard Day Star were John Ankner, Captain, Billy Spickerman (Papa Smurf), mate, Bob Doxsee, owner, Joe McCabe and Ed Randolph, crew. The day was fine, with a fresh southerly breeze, a moderate wind sea, and a morning haze. When about three miles off shore, the Harvey Gamage hove into view. Fore and mainsail were boomed out port and starboard, she was sailing wing and wing. She was graceful in every line, fully rigged clear up to the top’sle. Day Star signaled her welcome with a series of horn blasts while Gamage responded by firing off her signal cannon. We sailed in company to the Jones Inlet Sea Buoy where Gamage struck her sails, then motored up inlet to the Doxsee dock in Point Lookout. The Gamage was commanded by Chief Mate Beth “Stormalong” Doxsee, who, amid the cannon’s boom and all flags apeak, brought her up to the dock in fine style. A welcoming committee was on hand along with a forty foot sign proclaiming a “WELCOME HOME BETH-HARVEY GAMAGE” greeting.
The Sailing School Vessel Harvey Gamage is owned by OCEAN CLASSROOM FOUNDATIONS, a not for profit organization dedicated to providing sea going educational opportunities to high school through college age students. For information on the foundation’s programs of education under sail call 1-800-724-7245. The Gamage is crewed by eight officers and hands, two educators and carries twenty –four students. The SEAmester program spanned nine weeks at sea covering almost 3000 miles. The curriculum consists of marine biology, navigation and seamanship, coastal geology, maritime history, and literature of the sea. In addition to her duties to the ship Beth taught nautical science, such as celestial navigation.
Laid down in South Bristol Maine, in 1973, she is framed up with sturdy double oak timbers and planked with 2 inch long leaf yellow pine on 21 inch centers. The bone hard sawn frames are scarfed into the massive oaken keel. The beautifully tapered Douglas fir masts rake aft and tower sixty feet above the deck, the aft mast carrying a topmast. Her draft is ten feet, beam twenty two feet. She is 95 ft. on deck and 131 ft. overall. A hand powered barrel windless is used for raising the anchor, two hands working in tandem. The great sails are raised by way of the Armstrong hand over hand method.
The vessel was the last to be built by master shipwright Harvey Gamage. He built a great many fine wooden commercial fishing draggers that ground fished Georges Banks, a twenty-four hour steam from New Bedford, Mass. Captain “Woodie “ Bowers, owner/skipper of the Gamage built 80 ft. Fishing Vessel Ellen Marie is quoted in his book ”The Dragger” by William Finn: “Gamage, he’s built somewhere around over three hundred. This boat, when she built in 1962, he told me 251 up to that time. He’s launched more boats than any builder through Maine”. Of the Ellen Marie, Woodie states, “She’s brought me home through some hard gales of wind. The boat always uses me good, always brought me back home.”
Beth joined the Gamage in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands in late January, 2001. Her skipper, J.B. Smith (CAP) is from Maine and is a typical Down Easter, very savvy. Their ports of call included Dominican Republic, Cuba, Antigua, Montserrat, and Mona Island. On the run up the coast they visited Fernando Beach, Florida, Cumberland Island, GA, Beaufort, North Carolina, and Point Lookout, NY.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, April 21st. The Gamage stood out from Beaufort Inlet on a five hundred mile HOMEWARD BOUND run to Point Lookout. Her E.T.A. was Wednesday morning. Rounding Cape Hatteras, they hugged the beach, sailing well inshore of Diamond Shoals, The GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC. Then they struck a course to the northard, directly to Jones Inlet. Blessed with following seas and fair wind astern, they fetched Jones Inlet Whistle Buoy twenty four hours ahead of schedule. Flying down the wind with all sails drawing, the lee scuppers awash and the sea fairly smoking, she attained speeds of up to eleven knots.
But for her engine, radio and radar, The Harvey Gamage is typical of the hundreds of nineteenth century Down East schooners that plied the coastal and West Indies trade into the twentieth century. They freighted both dried and salted fish, ice, lumber, case oil and manufactured goods to the islands and brought back salt, molasses, rum and exotic woods. Bricks, coal and farm products were common cargoes.
While in Point Lookout, many guests were welcomed aboard the Gamage. On Tuesday evening a few of the folks hosted a cookout. The menu consisted of Manhattan clam chowder, clam chili, clam puffs, along with a few frankfurters and hamburgers. All hands and the cook agreed that the hospitality was of the finest kind.
The Gamage sailed from Point Lookout on the morning of Tuesday, April 26th. On that memorable day a group of well wishers watched from the beach while the Gamage dipped her colors in farewell. They cleared Jones Inlet and bore away to the west. Beating up New York Harbor, they motored through Hellgate, then, scudded down Sound to Greenport, L.I., where the students disembarked. Their next port of call was Mystic, Conn.
After leaving Mystic Seaport, Gamage will begin a busy summer of sea education cruises in the Gulf of Maine. Her next outward bounder eill be to the Caribbean in the fall.
We wish them a good voyage,
Bob Doxsee May 2001
Back to SouthamptonSEAmester Diary
Spring 2001 SEAmester East Journal
Sent weekly from sea by on-board SEAmester coordinator and professor
Chris Hamilton ...
SEAmester Log, Part 4 May 4, 2001
Hi there, you’re still with me? Good. This will be my final entry,
written a week after the end of the trip. One thing I accidentally
omitted from the end of my previous entry was our swim call that we
had between the Bahamas and Florida, in 3000 meters of water! The sun
was scalding, the water was tepid and the wind was non-existent,
perfect reasons to have our final (or so we thought) swim call before
we reached the colder waters of the United Stated in the grips of
spring. So with the ship hove to we jumped over the side into the
beautiful cobalt blue waters in the middle of nowhere with no visible
So, after a brief few days in St. Mary’s where we provisioned the
ship, did our laundry, etc. we visited Cumberland Island, a beautiful
and mostly undeveloped barrier island at the southernmost point of
Georgia. We decided that for our first day on the island we would have
a little island stroll (a.k.a. the "Death March"), a SEAmester
tradition. We got geared up, distributed maps and cautions, and about
half of the students decided they wanted to walk the entire length of
the island, or as I called it "The Double Death March", about 28
miles. In one day. I’ve done that hike once in my life. I’m glad I did
it but I won’t ever do it again. Everyone got back to the boat safe
and sound, eventually (I think new records were set for amount of time
to complete the death march, and for the size of foot blisters). The
next day was filled with academic activities, after the Easter egg
hunt, including a geological and biological survey of the island. Back
on board we were treated to an excellent Easter Sunday dinner then got
underway for Beaufort, NC before dark.
Two days out to sea, and just beyond Cape Fear, we found ourselves
preparing the ship for an impending storm with possible gale force
winds. The day had a darkly calm and surreal feel to it until mid
afternoon when the winds began picking up, rapidly. In a matter of
minutes we were in 30mph winds, the sails which we had reefed in
preparation were dropped so that we were sailing with only our
staysail. In a short while we say what appeared to be a heavy rainfall
approaching us from the direction of the wind, as it got closer we
realized that it was actually not rain, but rather much faster wind
that was blowing water off the surface of the ocean giving it the
appearance of heavy rain. This is what mariners call a White Squall.
It hit us with a fury, the winds, which we already thought were
ridiculously strong at 30mph, increased to 50mph, gale force, bringing
with it a vast temperature drop. At this point, since the wind had
been blowing for only a short time, the seas had not yet had any time
to develop, so we were sailing of a relatively calm sea. Soon though
the swells formed and within an hour we were in 15 foot seas. Talk
about white knuckle sailing. If you weren’t on watch (on deck sailing
the boat) you were hiding below in your (or someone else’s) cabin.
Everything got tossed around, many cabins got wet, everyone got
bruises, anyone on deck was freezing cold. For those prone to motion
sickness this was a nightmare. For those excited by action, this was a
dream. These conditions lasted us until about 5am when we approached
Beaufort and the swells diminished near land. We motored into Beaufort
at first light, tied up at the fuel dock, took a deep breath, and
started in with the stories of the day and night of the big storm over
breakfast. We spent the next few days at the Duke University Marine
Lab there in Beaufort, using their dock, microscope laboratories,
libraries, internet connections and showers all gratis to us as a
visiting program. Love that southern hospitality. About this time we
had to decide whether to visit the Chesapeake Bay, as planned, and run
the risk of arriving in Greenport late, which would have been
disastrous, or bypass the Chesapeake and find an alternate stop. It
just so happened that the family of our first mate, Beth Doxsee, met
up with us in Beaufort and invited us to visit their clam factor at
the southwest end of Long Island. An insiders welcome sounded good to
us so we set sail to the north for Long Island.
A few days later, after completing all classes, except for final
exams, we approached Point Lookout (just west of Fire Island) on Long
Island. We were greeted at the entrance buoy to the channel by Beth’s
dad, Bob Doxsee, in one of their families clamming boats. They guided
us through the channel to the back side of the island, where we were
greeted by a giant sign reading "Welcome Home Beth and Harvey Gamage"
and a crowd of about 40 people. A hero’s welcome, and the community’s
prodigal daughter calling out commands to bring the ship to rest
alongside her family’s pier, but not before we fired our cannon in
salute, thanks to the black powder supplied to us by Beth’s mom. This
was the first time anyone knew of any such large sailing vessel
visiting the town. They gave us a tour of the clam factory, and threw
a great BBQ party for us that night, inviting half the town down to
socialize with us grubby sailors. Hospitality on Long Island? You bet.
It was a wonderful little community, almost like a town that time
forgot, and we are greatly indebted to their kindness and generosity.
Soon we set sail away from the Doxsee Clam Factory (by the way, their
clam chowder and baked stuffed clams are incredible!) for New York
City, where just before sunset we anchored beneath the Statue of
Liberty, which combined with the skyline of NYC made for a very
impressive backdrop, and welcome back to the lives we were familiar
with. We only had a few days left in the trip at this point, and
everyone was really enjoying their time on board and with each other.
The following morning we weighed anchor and set sail up the East
River, firing a cannon salute to South Street Seaport, marveling at
the sights of Manhattan and the underneath of the bridges as we worked
our way up river, to, HELL GATE! This is a notorious region of
converging water masses, where the Harlem and East Rivers join each
other. One must properly time their passage of HELL GATE with the
tides in order to minimize the impact of large standing waves, giant
whirlpools and unknown monsters. We had to pull out some quick
navigating in order to avoid a oncoming Tug and Barge, then crossed
THE GATE with minimal incident, just a little shaken up. This soon let
us into the tranquil waters of Long Island Sound, up which we sailed
until sunset where we anchored for the night near New London.
The following morning was a brisk sail (I think we reached our fastest
speed of the entire trip, 11 knots) across the Sound to Bug Light,
near Orient Point where we anchored, and spent the day cleaning the
boat and packing our bags in preparation for the next day’s departure.
Some brave, or foolish, souls thought this would be a good time to
have one last swim call. Probably 16 students and crew jumped
overboard and practically ran across the water to climb the ladder to
get back on board. The water temperature was around 50 F and the air
was even colder. Ah, its good to be young. We also had our graduation
ceremony with speeches, diplomas, handshakes and hugs. After dinner
everyone gathered together in the salon to watch some of the video
footage that Jill had been collecting throughout the trip. We relived
the hike to the Boiling Lake in Dominica, the overnight in the
Bahamas, highlights of Cuba and of course, our very own White Squall.
The next morning was very short, sweet and intense. After a final
breakfast with toasts, speeches and student poetry readings we got
underway, sailing to Greenport where former seamester students and
everyone’s friends and families would be on the dock watching us come
in. As a matter of pride, we wanted the sailing to be perfect, so as
we approached we rehearsed the upcoming order of events. Sailing past
the dock, firing the cannon, turning up into the wind, dropping sails
and approaching the dock. It came off perfectly, for the most part. As
soon as the gangway was placed between the dock and ship, the program
was over and we lost everyone to the delirium of being reunited with
their loved ones. One student was even proposed to on the dock! Tears
were shed, hugs were shared and families were given tours of the boat.
Within two hours of our arrival the Harvey Gamage lay deserted and
silent at the dock, as though nothing had ever happened, smugly
enjoying a sense of pride in having indelibly affected the minds,
bodies and spirits of 23 young people.
Fair winds and calm seas,
My apologies for keeping the fish tallies out of these stories, I
don’t know what came over me. Anyways, the final counts for fish
caught on the trip:
Little Tunny: 5
Barracuda: 1 (released)
Fall 2000's Seamester Diary Archive
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