TRAVERSE CITY -- Crew members for the schooner Inland Seas spent time last week preparing for the upcoming season. The ship is one of three used for the Inland Seas Education Center's Schoolship and other educational programs, and takes students and adults on excursions for hands-on lessons about the science above and below the waters of Grand Traverse Bay and the Great Lakes.
The ship takes five crew members to sail, most of whom are paid professionals. Volunteer instructors teach lessons on aquatic life, water science, weather and navigation, and have training sessions of their own.
The crew sessions reviewed safety and sailing procedures, and emergency drills for man overboard and fire were carried out. While sailing across Suttons Bay, a dummy was thrown overboard and retrieved using a small outboard-powered boat kept on the ship's stern. An abandon-ship drill had crew members prepare to launch a life raft stored in a container on deck, and a simulated fire in the galley was quickly extinguished using a blanket. Later on the dock, the crew removed the ship's wheel and installed a tiller to manually steer the ship in case of a steering failure.
Captain Tom Kelly said after 19 years and 75,000 passengers, there have been no serious accidents while under way, and none with students. A few crew members, he said, have had minor accidents.
"If you had 75,000 students walking through a school door, a few of them are going to trip and fall. We've been pretty lucky here," said Kelly.