In the Heart of the Sea…is my girl

By September 30, 2015 16 Comments

Ahoy, mates!unnamed-7 Somewhere on the ocean blue, is a boat.

On this boat, in the heart of the sea…is my girl, Cope.

A daily text, tells me where this boat is sailing…


This boat is hunkered down in the harbor of Connecticut near Mystic as Hurricane Joaquin shows off a bit.

unnamed-11With Cope are 21 of her classmates, a captain, and a crew of maritime educators. They are embarking on an adventure of a lifetime: “Ocean Classroom.”

unnamed-8 The boat is a schooner named The Roseway, of  The World Ocean School.

unnamed-24 Each student is allowed 1 large duffel bag and a smaller day pack for school books. The summer reading was In the Heart of the Sea, “where basically,” Cope summed up, “everyone eats each other.”

A cheery image for any parent, no?

In the Heart of the Sea is being turned into a movie and coming out this December, starring Chris Hemworth. It’s likely to be on the DO NOT WATCH list, alongside A Perfect Storm…and all other disastrous ocean films.

unnamed-25 Before embarking, Cope and her crew stayed together at a campsite in New Hampshire. We had our practice good-bye. Cope said, “This is just preparing you for when I go to college!” (said a bit too gleefully.)

I do not like this, not one bit. Let’s move on and not dwell on such things.

unnamed-26We drooled over her course materials, laid out on her cot. Cod! I suddenly wanted to know all about cod, too!

The crew travelled to Hurricane Island in Maine, then off to Gloucester, Massachusetts: the true embarkment of their ocean adventure (and the true embarkment of A Perfect Storm!)

unnamed-9 We visited with Cope for the last time until November 21st.

unnamed-19 “Mom, come see my bunk!”unnamed-17 Cope is up front by the bow (gotta use my ship language correctly!) Her father, The Professor, says that she’s sure to get lots of waves and ocean swells. And if the ship leaks, she’ll be sure to get wet. Isn’t that SUPER FUN????! One of the items on the packing list is Dramamine. And foul weather gear. And flippers. And a special knife for “rigging.”

unnamed-18 Here’s the kitchen.

How do they shower?

1. A bucket of sea water is dumped over head.

2. Shampoo.

3. A bucket of fresh water is dumped over head.

Done! Also: they swim a lot.

Each crew member is part of a watch group for 4-8 hours, 24 hours a day. I keep imagining what it will be like for these young sailors, sailing under the great light of the moon at 3 a.m., feeling the wind as the sails shift, speaking with dolphins, and watching the sun set and rise while pulling ropes on that beautiful schooner.

I do not worry about hurricanes, sharks, or pirates. Or cannibalism. I am excited, and yes, a bit jealous of this great adventure. If only I could fit into Cope’s pocket and see all that she is seeing. Cope is a lover of words and brought her journal. I imagine a stunning novel could come of it. What happens to a crew of 22 teenagers on a small ocean boat, together for 2 months? Oh, the possibilities…

unnamed-1 Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle, and all the Boston cousins came to wave farewell. Paige said, “Oh, darn it! I forgot my white handkerchief to wave good-bye!”

After touring the boat (which was very crowded with parents and siblings) and chatting, we heard: “Okay, folks. I have to be the meanie. You have five minutes to say good-bye. FIVE!”

Perhaps I should have been better prepared. But I found myself a bit speechless. What advice would you give as your child as she sets sail for the next two months?

unnamed-4When I see this picture (which I don’t like of me, but why does it have to be about ME?) I can’t quite believe I’m a mom who has a child this old. Old enough to sail the ocean without me. Who is looking at me and is SO EXCITED TO EMBARK. (Thank you, Lindsey for the shots!)

Yes, I’m sure I was full of advice, but the only thing I could say was, “I love you so much.”

unnamed-28 unnamed-29There’s this odd feeling of…when you aren’t all together all the time, where there still be four of you?

unnamed-21 The siblings took the good-bye the hardest (though one sibling is excited about “exploring” her older sister’s room.)unnamed-3 unnamed-2 The boy misses her the most. He comes home wanting to tell her all about his soccer game and homework and high school and… she’s not there to tell.unnamed-6 And then, I swear, the boat started to move! This was getting real. Can you see her? She has two girls sitting on her lap. And yes, there are BOYS on the boat, too!unnamed-20 unnamed-16 unnamed-5 That boat kept going and going…and darn it, I wished I had my white handkerchief. Dave Pilla, Ocean Classroom coordinator and maritime expert shouted, “Hip-Hip…” and we all yelled back, “Hooray!” three times for good luck.unnamed-14 And then that Roseway fired a cannon shot that rivaled a pirate ship.unnamed-10 We waved and waved until that boat was out of sight.unnamed-12 Cousin posse; we shall not remove our ocean bracelets until our girl returns. unnamed-13The Roseway is headed to Mystic Seaport, the NYC Harbor School, Baltimore, Georgia, and Charleston. From there they will have 10-12 straight days at sea as they make their way to the Caribbean and eventually San Juan, Puerto Rico. Of course, this is all dependent on the weather. And Joaquin.

unnamed-27I’ve been given lots of advice since my girl sailed away. My two favorites: “Don’t be such a baby.” Ha. For real. And: “It was  very comforting to know Logan (her son) was always under the same moon as me.”

I thought of our girl as we watched the lunar eclipse on Sunday, as the bright light of the moon was shrouded in darkness and eventually a blood moon. I think of her as the sun sets and the sun rises on our fields of green and the weather begins to change and leaves fall to the ground. No matter where she sails, she is with us always.

I came across this right after she left. It made me think of her, too.unnamed-22Indeed, she’s had a very happy start. That lucky lucky duck!



  • Ed says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I look forward to reading about the rest of the Roseway’s voyage. Fair winds and following seas for both the students and their parents!


    I even have tears in my eyes as I waved goodbye, vicariously through your writing. Wonderful adventure. Just imagine when she comes home with all her awesome tales to tell. I know that she can cope with all that comes, pun intended.

  • Julia Tomiak says:

    Holy cow, I’m crying. My goodness parenting is not for the weak. What an amalgamation of emotions: fear, anxiety, excitement, pride. I will keep her in my prayers. What a wonderful opportunity.
    I can see I will have to work on the whole “letting go” aspect of motherhood.

  • Laurel says:

    I was crying as I read your blog. It brought back all of the feelings I had when I waved goodbye to my daughter, Lindsay Brown ’01, on a very similar ship. Being a single parent, I had no one to share my fears with. There were no hurricanes that fall of 2000 which made it a little easier but it was still hard to see them sailing away. Cope will come home with amazing stories of wild horses, seeing dolphins swimming in a sea of bioluminescent on a midnight watch. Back in 2000, all we had was a map and captains’ notes to notify us parents where the ship was and what the kids were experiencing. They were spotty and random. Be grateful for technology. Don’t fear, she will return home safely.

  • Ella says:

    That was a wonderful event it was Wonderful sad and Happy for her. I hope to do it to if I go to proctor:)
    Your necie Ella

  • Elaine Duncan says:

    Thank you for this great post. We miss Cope! Can’t imagine a better person to have this experience because she will not squander one moment of her great adventure!

  • Shirley Tinker says:

    Thank you for sharing this , and hopefully more “Cope Adventures”. The best of life experiences come with an element of fear as well as excitement. Cope will be fine. As for you, this is a most emotion-stretching experience and you and we are very fortunate that you are a writer; we can share in your ebbs and tides. Know that we are with you vicariously .
    PS if you have not read In he Heart of the Sea yet, perhaps you should not. It is however, a good story about human nature and the consequences of our choices.
    Looking forward to the next installment. :>)

  • Kim says:

    Beautiful pictures of you and Gregor saying goodbye to your girl. What a terrifying and exhilarating experience as a mother. You are so brave.

  • What an amazing adventure for Cope! Something she will always remember.
    But nope — I don’t like that reading assignment at all, nor would I want to watch any disastrous sea movies even after she is safely home. I have too much imagination for that.

  • Nina says:

    Incredible! And I love that Silverstein quote paired with the photo. Perfect!

  • Marathon Glenn says:

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

    -John Mansfield

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