October/November 2012

  • T
  • W
  • T
  • F
  • S
  • S
  • M
  • T
  • W
  • T
  • F
  • S
  • S
  • M
  • T
  • W
  • T
  • F
  • S
  • S
  • M
  • T
  • W
  • T
  • F
  • S
  • S
  • M
  • T
  • W
  • T
  • F
  • S
  • S
  • M
  • T
  • W
  • T
  • F

Latest Expedition Journal

October 27:  Day 25

Posted by Pat Keoughan

Wanderlust on the High Seas

Most of my life I have suffered from wanderlust.  This need to travel has propelled me from Japan to the Soviet Union, Iceland to Mexico, and many places in between.  In 1979, a friend told me about a school, Sea Education Association (SEA), in Woods Hole, MA where I often got the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, my favorite place for R&R when I was living in New York.  She knew I had just gone sailing for the first time during which time I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.  She also knew that I had a passion for the ocean.  She told me that this school taught oceanography onboard a sailboat.  I was hooked.  Since I was 30 at the time, I called and asked SEA if they took older people and was told if I qualified they liked having a diversity of students in a class.

In 1980 I was aboard the R/V Westward as a member of SEA Semester class W-53, having the adventure of a lifetime.  The summer cruise sailed north to Nova Scotia and into the northwest fjords of Newfoundland.  My SEA experience changed my life.  I was a fourth grade teacher in New York and in 1982, having spent the summer in Woods Hole, MA and having never gone home, I eventually became a fifth grade teacher in Falmouth, MA.

I stayed connected with SEA initially through the alumni association, then I became an alumni trustee and I am now a member of the Corporation and serve on the Education Committee.  I feel very strongly about the important role SEA plays in protecting the oceans as it educates bright, young scholars about the importance of life on Earth.  

Throughout the 32 years I have been associated with this organization it has fed my wanderlust.  In 1990 I was part of the crew aboard the Westward when it was hired by WGBH, a public radio station in Boston, to carry it’s film crew along the route of Columbus’ first voyage starting in San Salvador in the Bahamas, with two port stops in Cuba, two stops in Haiti and ending in the Dominican Republic.  Our trip became part four of their seven-part series in honor of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage.

In 2000 I was fortunate to be aboard SEA’s SSV Corwith Cramer sailing from Newport to New York Harbor.  We escorted Chile’s tall ship Esmeralda in the parade of sail under the Verrazano Bridge, past the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy with President Clinton aboard, then up the Hudson River to the George Washington Bridge.  Definitely one of life’s peak experiences for me.

Now I’m retired after 40 years of teaching.  My first two post-teaching adventures were aboard Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) research cruises with physical oceanographer Bob Pickart, where I was responsible for outreach with schools.  The first, in 2010 was aboard a Coast Guard icebreaker, to which I was helicoptered from Barrow, Alaska, in the Arctic Ocean.  The second research cruise with Dr. Pickart was in 2011 aboard WHOI’s R/V Knorr for a month in the Iceland Sea.  The purpose of both cruises was to research currents in the Arctic and each has a website where information about the science, as well as the questions and answers from the schools that followed us, are posted.

These trips are what brought me aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans today.  This morning I finished answering the eighth set of questions from 14 teachers in 10 schools around the U.S. who are following our website, teaching from it and sending questions to me from their students.  Everyone aboard, especially the hardworking scientists, have been helpful assisting me with the answers.  It is important to all of us that whatever message we have about plastic out in the North Pacific subtropical gyre gets to students in a learning environment, as well as to others reading our website.  This is a great opportunity for students to get a first-hand look at a research cruise.

I am quite sure, in the end, that this trip will displace the others as the best cure yet for my wanderlust.