Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Getaway for Grown-Ups: A Participant's Perspective

By Dan Adams, Get Away for Grown-ups Participant

Growing up around the water and being an avid sailor for the past 35 years I have always been drawn to tall ships. After seeing the schooner Adventuress while sailing on Elliott Bay this past May I checked into this beautiful ship and went for a day sail a month later. I was hooked. It was then that I found out about the Get-Away for Grown-Ups weekend.

Not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into, Diane and I decided to give it a shot. After all, a weekend in the San Juans aboard an historic schooner sounded like fun. We had some reservations; dorm style sleeping with people we don’t know, getting up in the middle of the night to stand watch, no shower for three days etc. In need of an adventure, we walked onto the ferry in Anacortes on Aug. 27th bound for Friday Harbor.

Once aboard the Adventuress we were greeted by Program Coordinator Emilee Monson and then divided up into “watches." Our watch consisted of 4 adults and 3 crew. We then went to pick out our bunks, women in the main cabin, men in the forward cabin. OK, this makes sense, it was like being back at scout camp. After a meeting with our watch, we set about learning how to sail Adventuress, hoisting sail, trimming sheets, tying lines and safety rules. This is what I was hoping for, not being one to sit around and watch others, we became working members of the crew.

Our first day at sea was exciting, once under sail and learning about the islands around us, we were treated to pods of dolphins and then the call “Orca off the starboard bow." Diane and I were down below helping Jane with the evening meal when we dropped what we were doing and bolted up the ladder to the main deck.....our first Orca sighting. Other Orca were playing over by the shore and their blow spray was backlit by the afternoon sun. It was a magical moment.

After dropping anchor in Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island, a delicious meal on deck and an informative evening muster in the main cabin we all bedded down at 10 o’clock wondering what the night watch would be like. Sleep was a little hard to find the first night but we were awakened at 2am for our night watch. Meeting Diane on deck, we were delighted to discover a beautiful evening of stars, sounds and rhythms of the night watch. The hour watch seemed to fly by and was more fun than we thought, checking the anchor, ships position, water in the bilge and just hanging out and taking in the beautiful surroundings.

A 7:00am wake up call on Saturday morning, coffee, a wonderful breakfast and the morning duties began with a good ole swabbing of the decks. Each watch group (A, B & C) had different duties and ours was the deck wash that morning. We sailed off the anchor into a nice morning blow followed by a short tacking duel with the schooner Zodiac, more Orca sightings including a nice breach and then anchored early in Westcott Bay on San Juan Island. Each watch group observed informative presentations on sea plankton, mammals of the sea, knot tying etc. It was then play time, each watch group took turns sailing the dingy Ayashi, climbing the rigging, sitting on the bow sprit, and just taking in the sights and sounds of the anchorage. Another fabulous dinner and the evening muster in the main cabin (what a hoot that was.)

We chose the 6am night watch so we could catch the sunrise and it was well worth it. The bay was coming alive with the sounds of the local wildlife and the ever changing morning light. Coffee, breakfast and a wonderful sail in the San Juan Channel with a reefed main (Capt. Daniel loved our reefing job) staysail, jib and no foresail. Each watch got a turn at the helm and what a thrill it was to sail the Adventuress with such a good wind. We finally arrived back in Friday Harbor at 3pm.

What a magical weekend, not only were the experiences incredible but we can’t say enough good things about the Captain and Crew of the Adventuress. They quickly integrated all of us strangers into a cohesive group of deck hands all the while carefully watching us as we learned the next skill. As an educator myself, I was very impressed with the passion our watch group leaders demonstrated in their ability to communicate and teach.

Emilee & Diane
They were very patient and knowledgeable and genuinely cared about our learning experience. We came away with many fond memories and many new friends. Thank you Sound Experience for what you do and the people you have assembled and thank you Emilee for a job well done. I highly recommend the Get-Away for Grown-Ups, or any other program, to anyone interested in a truly educational and thrilling adventure. We will be back.

Dan Adams

You can sign up for the 2011 Getaway for Grown-Ups by following this link:

Dinner on deck in the evening sun
At the helm
Sheeting in the foresail
View from aloft
Sailing A-ya-she, Adventuress' small boat

1 comment:

  1. It was a very FUN adventure! Beautiful environment with nature at your door. It's amazing what goes on outside of our busy world. No distractions from nature in it's finest. I loved it!