Emma Gregory is a perfect example of the shipboard progression available to teen participants who are committed to developing their knowledge of the marine environment and their skill as mariners: she came aboard the schooner Adventuress for Fantastic Voyage (FV) in 2012 and 2013 and returned last year as a high school senior for their first annual Level 2 program.
Now a first-year student at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, Emma will serve this summer for a two-month stint on the Adventuress crew — including time as an Educator/Deckhand on our 2017 FV trips. Explaining why she chose to return in this role, Emma shares the importance of guiding teen participants through the same progression: “I want others to have the same experience I had aboard the ship.”
When she stepped onto Adventuress for the first time in 2012, Emma had almost no experience on the water. The thought of spending time with strangers in a strange environment made her understandably nervous. But, she explains, everything changed once the ship started moving: “I experienced that classic ‘wind through the hair’ sensation and it sparked something in me. Pretty soon, those strangers had become my family… Every time I go back there’s a different group dynamic, but Adventuress always feels like home.”
Returning for FV Level 2 in 2016, her sailing skills were a little rusty — it had, after all, been three years since she was last aboard. Says Emma, “The first few days, I felt like I could maybe pass a pop quiz about line handling. By the end of the trip, we were running the boat with almost no intervention from the crew. It was an amazing transformation.”
Her favorite memory comes from sailing alongside a humpback on FV 2: “It was so unique to be up close to an animal like that.” But it wasn’t just the sighting — it was also sharing the experience with the shipboard community. One of the crew members invented a song for the participants to sing — a three part round in which each line ended with either “hump” “back” or “whale.” “When we were singing in time all together,” says Emma, “It would sound at certain points like we were saying ‘humpback whale.’” The whale must have liked their singing, too — they crossed paths with the same humpback later in the trip.
At Eckerd College — where the motto, aptly, is “ThinkOutside”— Emma is studying Biology and Visual Arts. Although science has been a long-running interest for Emma, she credits Adventuress with introducing her to the concept of fieldwork: “The science aspects of Adventuress, things like the plankton tow, were some of my first experiences ‘in the field’ and not just learning concepts from a book.”
For Emma, part of the power of returning is Adventuress’ unparalleled ability to connect participants to the environment around them. Says Emma, “The water is such an incredible resource. It’s essential to our world, to our communities, to our continued existence. On Adventuress, you can really show young people the impact of their actions and why Puget Sound is worth protecting.”
Serving as crew is incredibly hard work. Although it’s difficult to imagine before the experience itself, time as a participant has given Emma a taste of what it may be like. Reflects Emma, “On Adventuress, you learn a lot and you do a lot of work, but in the moment it doesn’t feel that way. Everything you do has a purpose. Everything has a relationship to the real world. To have that experience, to have so much fun, and to leave the ship having developed a family aboard — there’s nothing else like it.”
If you’d like to encourage your teen’s involvement with Adventuress and the maritime world, Sound Experience Aboard the Schooner Adventuress recommends starting with Girls at the Helm or Fantastic Voyage Level 1. After an introduction to the ship, teens are encouraged to return for FV 2 and apply for their Apprenticeship program… and maybe even someday serve as crew!