MY SECOND YEAR ON STRIDER AND SOME REFLECTIONS
There have been quite a few highlights these last few months aboard Strider. I’ve seen many interesting tropical creatures while down here, for example turtles, lizards, birds, insects, and of course, beautiful fish. It was fun to see how different the animals are compared to the animals we have back home. In addition to the wildlife, there are also amazing sights. I saw sunsets, waterfalls, and rock formations that were surprisingly different from those in New England. In Flamingo Cay, we saw a cave filled with shallow water that was fun to explore. On French Wells we walked across a beach that had hardened into sandstone, but was slowly breaking apart and eroding due to regular wave action and hurricanes. In the Bahamas we spent quite a while at unpopulated islands. Nighttime at these islands was amazing, because the stars were always extremely bright, since the lights of civilization were too far away to disrupt them. I also had new experiences while living on a boat. I made bread from scratch, went on long, beautiful hikes through rain forests and up the slopes of volcanos, and helped sail Strider. On night passages I would schedule shifts and make sure I was on time for each of my own. Along the way North, we met a few other boats with kids, and I made some great friends. Unfortunately, after spending too little time together, we parted ways with the promise of staying in touch. When I am back home, I’m sure I’ll remember everything I saw and did. I may not get to ever see/do some of them again.
I have been cruising on Strider for almost two years. This has brought many new experiences and lessons I may not have learned otherwise. I had to get used to living in a smaller space than I’m used to, as well as only having a few possessions that I chose to bring with me. I realized that I didn’t need lots of items or a large space to be comfortable. We couldn’t bring too many clothes, because we didn’t have much room, and since we didn’t have a washing machine we couldn’t be picky about how clean they were. Our rule was as long as it doesn’t smell too bad and looks decent enough, it’s clean. Another thing I had to get used to was water usage. We had to be very careful about how much water we used, or else we could run out quickly. While washing dishes we had to be careful to only use small spurts of water for rinsing and cleaning, and we could never pour clean, fresh water down the drain. When we swam, we could only use a few squirts of water to rinse off the salt, and we used salt water for cleaning ourselves. From this I learned that at home we use a lot more water than we need to. On a boat, everyone has their jobs. These include doing the dishes, making meals, cleaning your cabin, and raising and lowering the dinghy in the morning and evening to name a few. We needed to do our jobs to keep the boat clean and working. Some jobs were for a specific person, others were for everyone to do, but we worked together to get them all done. On the other hand, often if something needed to be done, we could do it ourselves. We could all drive the dinghy on our own, and Owen and I took turns helping our parents anchor and sail. This taught me more about independence and taking care of myself. I will keep all of these lessons, and refer back to my memories of living on a boat when I need to use the life skills I learned there.
Keep a careful eye on patches of sand on the sea floor, and you may see a flounder hiding in plain view. The flounder is one of my favorite fish. I think they are cool because of how flat they are, as well as how easily they can blend into the sand. On my trip I have seen many different flounders in different shapes and sizes. I think my favorite type is the Peacock Flounder. They are a tan color with soft, light blue spots. I like how their eyes are large and buggy, because it makes them look even more cute. One amazing thing about flounders is that when they are young, they swim vertically like other fish, and they have one eye on either side of their bodies. As they grow, they flatten out and one eye slowly moves to be on the same side as the other one. I find it amazing how fast they can swim away once they realize they’ve been spotted, and how easily you can lose sight of them. They are difficult to find. The best way to spot one is to look for two large eyes sticking up out of the sand followed by blue dots. I hope that everyone can have a chance to see them.
Mt. Pelee & Saint Pierre
Mt. Pelee, a dangerous volcano, is positioned next to Saint Pierre, on the northwestern coast of Martinique. St. Pierre was once a major city. It was known as the Paris of the Caribbean because of all the cities in the French West Indies, St. Pierre was the wealthiest, fanciest, most cultured, and most elegant. On May 8th, 1902, Mt. Pelee erupted and killed all of the 30,000 people living in the city, except for two: a prisoner who survived because he was in a stone cell underground, and a girl who escaped in a boat and hid in a cave a few miles away. Only 5,000 people live in St. Pierre today. If you visit the town, you can see that it was rebuilt on top of the ruins of the old buildings. There is a museum that shows excavated dinner plates, melted glass, a church bell, volcanic rocks, bits of statues, and even foods that were coated in ash and preserved. The stone foundations of the old theatre and prison are still intact, as well as the bottom half of the church, although the top half was rebuilt after being destroyed by the eruption. The volcano itself is 4,000 feet high, and currently dormant, though it is being observed closely after the disaster caused by the previous eruption. I would not want to live next to such a powerful and destructive volcano, because I would constantly be living in fear that it would erupt. St. Pierre is no longer the elegant and wealthy town it used to be, but it serves as a living reminder of the devastation nature can inflict on humankind.
The island Montserrat is one of the many islands in the Caribbean that was formed by a volcano. In 1630, it was settled by Irish, who named the volcano Soufriere, and brought slaves to cultivate sugar, until slavery was ended in British colonies in 1838. In 1982, Jimmy Buffet visited the island and wrote the song “Volcano” about Mt. Soufriere, which was visible from his porch. By 1995 Monserrat’s population was 11,000 people, and Soufriere erupted.
In 1997, large eruptions destroyed and covered the capital city, Plymouth, as well as the airport and many other places and towns, in ash, rock, and dirt from Pyroclastic Flows*. After the eruptions, the southern half of Montserrat was evacuated. In 2006 and 2010 there were more eruptions, including the largest one yet. Now, Montserrat’s population is 5,000, since many people left after the larger eruptions mentioned. Those who remained on the island have been relocated to the north.
After the eruption in 1997, people were told to take a few needed possessions and abandon their homes for the weekend. Even after seventeen years they have not yet been allowed to return. If you visit Montserrat today, you can have a tour guide show you around the Exclusion Zones, where you will see homes, restaurants, streets, and a hotel completely overgrown by nature. Only a few of the houses are still mostly intact, and their floors are coated in a layer of ash. After a while some of the people were allowed to return briefly to collect items they left behind when told to abandon their homes. Other belongings remained in the house, such as books, dishes, and toys. These items are still there today, collecting dust.
Over the years, Montserrat has grown higher due to Andesite building up around the cap of the mountain to create a volcanic dome. The coastline in some places has been extended by 1/4 of a mile from eruptions and pyroclastic flows, which also makes the island wider. The volcano is still active today.
*pyroclastic flows are avalanches of ash, rock, and hot gas, that move down a volcano at speeds greater than 100 mph
A New Friend
When I was I Grenada, I met a girl called Natasha. We became best friends pretty much instantly, and even had a sleep over the same night we met. By the second day knowing of her we had decided upon being Mega Best Sister Friends Forever. We swam together, went kayaking, went out for dinner together, and hung out on each other’s boats!
Sanctuary: a Turtle’s Story
Based on a visit to the “Old Hegg” Hawksbill sanctuary on Bequia, the Grenadines
The Beginning of Memory (5 months)
At around five months old, she had started to remember the world around her, and could think rather than simply act on instinct. This, however, did not prevent her from continuing to swim mindlessly around the shallow tub she was being kept in with the other turtles. She was slightly smaller than the other hatchlings, and often stayed near one specific side of the tub, rarely venturing further out. She would tuck in her little fins and simply float, sometimes using one fin to guide herself away if another hatchling came too near.
Swimming Through Endless Water (1 year)
Time went on, and the turtle grew. She now had a name and was known as ‘Jade’; this title had been given to her by the sanctuary keeper’s daughter. Since moving to the bigger tank, Jade had started noticing the differences between her and the other turtles that had survived hatchling-hood. She was a more pale green and white, with dark brown tile patterns on her head and fins. Her shell was smooth and round, again with the same tile patterns on the rest of her body. Her eyes were bigger and looked more innocent. The other turtles had darker skin, rougher shells, and narrower eyes. Jade was a Green Turtle, and the others were Hawksbill Turtles. Jade did not discover this until after she had been in the bigger tank for quite some time.
Jade’s days were spent floating, practicing diving, and simply swimming in the calm, shallow water. Bits and pieces of information from the other tanks in the sanctuary occasionally made their way to her tiny ears. She learned that there were new hatchlings to replace her group in the smaller tank, that there were bigger turtles on the other side of one of the walls enclosing her own tank. An even bigger tank across the room held turtles much older and larger than Jade. Life, for the moment, seemed dull and endless. Jade longed for more excitement. The other turtles in her tank thought their present life just fine and peaceful. More time passed, more than they had spent in their previous tank as hatchlings. The older turtles passed on stories and promises of tanks so large and deep you could swim forever in one direction and never reach the barrier of a wall; as long as you avoided land that is. This is what kept Jade content through her years in the small tank: promises, stories, and dreams.
Moving On and Up (5 years)
It had been infinity since the young turtles had finally moved to the biggest tank in the sanctuary – or at least that’s what it felt like to Jade and the others. They now knew the reason for being kept in tanks their whole life. It was for their protection and survival. In the tanks more than 35 of every 100 turtles lived to age five, while in the wild, only one out of three thousand turtle hatchlings made it to adulthood. It was worse for the Hawksbills; they were an endangered species. The sanctuary was trying to ensure the survival of more turtles than nature could protect, so certain turtle species would not go extinct. Jade understood this and was no longer angry for being kept from the wild most of her life.
People would come and visit the sanctuary. Some of them would touch Jade’s shell as she swam past, or stroke the top of her head. Sometimes she would snap at fingers that dangled in front of her eyes, but she never was close enough to do any harm. Besides, she did not think human would taste very good, and never gave catching fingers her best effort. The Hawksbills did, though. They would snap every time fingers came close. Once, a turtle with the label ‘Neptune’ caught a finger and would not let go. Thankfully for the human, he only ripped off the person’s nail.
The End and the Start of Different Lives (5 1/2 years)
Jade swam happily among the coral of her new home. She and the other turtles her age had been released a month before, parting ways to find homes in the ocean. The reef Jade had found provided exactly the type of excitement and freedom she had wished for while in the sanctuary. She did not miss the boring tanks she had been raised in; though she was thankful for the extra chance at survival. A fellow Green Turtle swam a little ways away from her, nipping at different pieces of coral that he passed. He had not grown up in a sanctuary as Jade had, but a tracker had been placed on his bottom left fin so that an aquarium in California could study how turtles lived. Along with the tracker, he had been given the name ‘Fin’. The two turtles spent most of their time swimming together. Jade could not be more content and at peace with her life.
Dominica and Les Saintes are both similar to and different from one another. For one, they are different because Les Saintes’ primary language is French, because it is part of France and the people have a French heritage. Dominicans are bilingual, because they mostly speak Creole and English. Creole is a mixture of French, African, and the native Carib people’s language. The ancestors of most Dominicans came to the island as African slaves, and brought some of their language with them.
An example of a similarity is the animals kept on the islands. They both have goats, chickens, cats, dogs, lizards, birds, and bats. In Dominica there are many stray dogs that just roam around where there is food, but in Les Saintes all the dogs are on leashes. We had an encounter with two stray dogs in Dominica, who we named Chestnut and Spudz. Chestnut was a golden brown color and had longer fur, and Spudz was white with black splotches on his back, legs and one of his ears. The dogs led us on a hike up to the fort overlooking Portsmouth Harbor.
Les Saintes is more touristy and there are more shops. Everything is a bit more modern than Dominica. Dominica has more hiking trails and lots of vegetation, as well as farmer’s crops waterfalls, streams and hot and cold springs created by volcanic activity.
There are also large red rocks that are made up of compact ash from when the volcano on the island exploded. We visited the red rocks and I took a sample of a pumice stone, which is a piece of lava that cools so quickly the bubbles are trapped in the rock, which is very lightweight.
Anse Bourg Photo Essay: how is Anse Bourg different from Washington Depot?
Anse Bourg, Les Saintes is very different from Washington, Connecticut, my home. There are not many cars and the most used means of transportation is scooters and carts. There are many shops, but most of them close around noon and reopen at four pm. Although the main language is French, some people do speak English and most of the songs I have heard playing in cafés and shops are songs I originally heard on the radio back in Connecticut.
Most of the buildings have red clay roofs. This is because the red clay helps keep the sun off and the cold in. The red clay is used for roof shingles in many of the tropical places of the world; for example: Virgin Gorda, Florida, and Spain.
Anse Bourg is very different from what I am used to, but it’s plenty fun as well! All the differences just make it that much more exciting!
Harry Potter World
While my parents were sailing Strider to Virgin Gorda, I traveled to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando with my grandmother, Leila. There are tons of things to do there. In Diagon Alley there are shops, rides, and plenty of spells to cast! On top of Gringott’s Bank sits the dragon from The Deathly Hollows. About every ten minutes, the dragon blows real fire! It was amazing. Also at Gringott’s there is a ride called Escape From Gringott’s. It’s a roller coaster based around the scenes from The Deathly Hollows where Harry, Ron and Hermione break into and then out of the bank. We were even attacked by Voldemort!
After you finish up at Diagon Alley, you can take the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. On the train, you sit in a compartment with some other people. From the window you can see different valleys and forests that the train passes. At one point, a storm of bats flies from under a tree and forms what looks like a skull before dispersing. The train also gets boarded by dementors, who Harry fights off with his patronus.
At Hogsmeade there are three rides and plenty of shops. You can buy Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice, sweets from Honeyduke’s, and pranks from Zonko’s Joke Shop. For the rides there are two roller coasters and one 4D ride. The first roller coaster is called the Dragon Challenge. I myself did not ride it as it went upside down and looked much too scary. The other roller coaster I did go on, however. It’s called Flight of the Hippogriff, and it’s short, but very fun. You even see Buckbeak and Hagrid’s Hutt! The 4D ride is simply amazing! On that ride, you go flying with Harry and Ron. You tour Hogwarts and get stuck in the middle of a quidditch game. Dementors also attack you, you are almost crushed by the Womping Willow, and you narrowly escape the spiders that live in the Forbidden Forest. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was easily my favorite ride of all.
If you’re a Potterhead and haven’t visited Universal Studios yet, I highly recommend it! It has everything you would need to get ready for Hogwarts!
Muskets at Yorktown
I went to the Revolutionary War Yorktown battlefield and I saw a demonstration of a musket being fired. It was fun becasue I got to yell the orders to load and fire. I found out that the musket is an inferior weapon to the rifle. Muskets have less accuracy and shorter range, but are less expencive than a rifle. And so both sides used them, but the Colonists’ muskets were made by the French.
The Real Pocahontas
The Disney movie Pocahontas is not in fact accurate to the original tale of Pocahontas. In addition to talking trees, there are many other things that Disney got wrong. The written records about Pocahontas are limited, so there is much we don’t know, but here is what we do know. Pocahontas was the daughter of the the chief of the Native American Powhatans. His name was Powhatan, like his tribe. She was born in 1598. In 1608, when she was ten, she saved the life of John Smith, who was the leader of the Jamestown colonists when they first arrived. This was very important because John Smith was responsible for keeping the Colony together under harsh conditions. John Smith was caught intruding on the Powhatan’s land, so he was taken before Pocahontas’ father. The Powhatans were going to bash John Smith’s head with clubs as punishment, but Pocahontas saved him by resting her head on top of his to prevent his head from being bashed.
In 1613, she was taken hostage by the Colonists so that the Powhatans could exchange her for the return of Englishmen who had been captured by the Indians. But when the men were returned, Pocahontas chose to stay with the Colonists, which lead her to meet John Rolf, who she married in 1614.
Pocahontas became a Christian and took the name of Rebecca. Mr. and Mrs. Rolf were one of the few couples back then who actually liked each other. Two years after their marriage, Rebecca, John and their infant son Thomas sailed to England. This was to show the rest of the world that not all Indians were savages. Unfortunately, Rebecca got sick just before the return journey to Virginia. In 1617, she died at Gravesend England, and was buried at St. George Church.
Here is what Disney got wrong:
1.In the Disney film, when the Colonists arrive Pocahontas is already a grown woman. Later in the movie she befriends John Smith to the point of falling in love with him. In real life, Pocahontas was only ten when the Colonists arrived and never experienced any feelings towards Smith except for maybe acquaintanceship.
2.Another detail Disney got wrong was the reason John Smith was sent back to England. In the movie, the Governor accidentally shoots Smith in the side when aiming for Pocahontas’ father the Powhatan Chief. In reality, Smith was sent back to England due to his gunpowder-pouch catching fire and burning his leg.
3.In the movie, the Governor was the one in charge. John Smith was actually the leader when the Colonists first arrived and there wasn’t a Governor until later.
4.Disney only used one boat to carry the Colonists to Jamestown in the movie. Really, there were three ships, two larger ships and a smaller one for exploration.
5.In the movie, the Indians capture John Smith after an Indian known as Kokoum tries to kill him, and Kokoum is shot. The real reason Smith was captured was that he was exploring with a few other Colonists in Powhatan territory and the Powhatans ambushed them.
One of the few things Disney got right was how Smith was saved. Another was that the Jamestown Colonists were searching for gold. It was one of the reasons they came to the new land. The most important thing they got right was how the Colonists and the Powhatans were against each other, and how Pocahontas helped bring them together.
Pocahontas is known for many reasons, one of which is the important role she played in uniting the Native Americans and Englishmen in Jamestown, because they were constantly at war.
If you are ever lucky enough to touch a cownose ray, you will find their skin is soft and slimy. To locate a cownose in the water, look for a brown, bat shape gliding close to the surface.
Hooper’s Channel Lighthouse Keeper’s Log: 10/4/1904
New York Food
New York has some of the best food in the world. All over the city there are tons of pizza parlors and coffee shops as well as hotdog/hot pretzel stands.
Not all the pizza restaurants in New York have spectacular food, but most of them are very good. The pizza crust quality is great and there are lots of different kinds of pizzas to choose from. (Ex. I went to ‘Little Italy’ and had a Margarita pizza while my mom had Spinach Garlic, my dad had Veggie pizza and my brother had Plain Cheese. The crust was very chewy.) The ingredients used for the pizzas are fresh which makes the pizza extra delicious!
The coffee shops in New York have more than just coffee, but the coffee itself is often the best part. New York coffee is creamier and thicker than other coffees. Again, there are often many different types of coffee to choose from (ex. Macchiato, Latte). The coffee is served hot and sometimes – for certain types of coffee – with whipped cream!
There are plenty of food stands all over New York. Most of them all serve the same thing, which is mostly hot pretzels, hotdogs, and nuts. Even though there are lots of stands serving the same food, I had two different pretzels from two different stands. One was warm and chewy; the other was almost cold and tough.
If you only like to eat the best, try the food from New York.
New York Climate March
I did not enjoy walking in the Climate March, but I did think it was for a good cause. I didn’t like walking in the march because it was very long and I did not wear proper walking shoes, which made my feet hurt. The march though was to raise awareness about global warming, which I – and many others – want to stop.
If global warming continues at its current pace, it could melt the polar ice caps. If this happens, the sea levels will rise and many places including parts of New York will go under water. The melting of the ice is also causing many species to go extinct. (Ex. Polar bears, puffins, some species of frogs.)
By walking in the Climate March, it shows our leaders that we want to stop global warming and save our world!
Life on a Boat
This is a list of a few things that explain how life at sea is so much different – and harder – than life on land.
The bedrooms – or cabins – on a boat are very different from my bedroom in CT. Its much smaller and the bed – or bunk – takes up most of the room. If you enter my cabin, there is only about two or three feet space of floor before the bunk starts. The ceiling over my bunk is very low, so I have to get down on my hands and knees if I want to reach something that I have stuffed in the back of my cabin. When you’ve just entered the cabin, immediately to your left – or port – side is a small closet. This is where I store things like my wetsuit, my backpack, shoes, stuffed-animals, etc. Right next to that, but a little lower, is a little cubby where I store dirty laundry. Directly above that cubby is a small space where I can put things like water cups, a small basket for holding souvenirs or other found items, my iPod, etc. Lining the wall is more space for books and such. Underneath the mattress are even more, larger storage spaces, but they are mostly used for boat items like sail covers. There is also a cubby underneath the little floor space I have, but again it is used for boat items.
Sleeping Part 1(overnight sailing):
Some people think that the rocking of the waves as we sail along is probably relaxing so it is easier to fall asleep. Not! Well, for me at least. The rocking actually makes it very hard to fall asleep. Its nauseating! Imagine being pressed against the wall of a cramped room surrounded by pillows. ( You are surrounded by pillows because supposedly it helps to have a wall of something pressed against you. It keeps you from rocking back and forth. You are pressed against a wall because your entire house is tilted sideways! ) It’s very stuffy in the room so it’s partly hard to breath. The room is also rocking back and forth, back and forth with the waves. Now try to go to sleep. You tell me if you were successful!
Sleeping Part 2(docked/moored/anchored):
It’s not as bad as trying to go to sleep while sailing, but it’s definitely not easy either! Again, its stuffy and cramped. It helps that the boat isn’t constantly rocking, tilting to one side, or that the hum of the engine isn’t killing your ears. Again, this is only in my opinion. It’s a different experience for everybody!
Sailing can either be okay, or super boring. It all depends on what entertainment options are available. If you can watch whales, seals, sharks and turtles, read, write, play, etc. than sailing is fine. If none of those options are available and the only option that is available is school work or card games, than sailing is super boring. Again, this is only my opinion.
PEACE LOVE CHOCOLATE-COVERED-ALMONDS – MEGAN
A Note From the Author:
Hello everyone! It’s me, Megan. Welcome to my family’s new blog! IT’S GONNA BE TOTALLY AWESOME! Definitely expect to see stories about my journey along with short books or fan fictions. Well thats pretty much it!
PEACE LOVE CHOCOLATE – MEGAN