Whales, Water, and Wonder

By | 2018-04-15T22:09:00+00:00 March 10, 2015|21st Century Learning, Middle School|

MONDAY, 7:25 am

I am sitting on a BC Ferry with 25 very excited and energetic grade 8 students. We are on our way to Swartz Bay, where we will board another school bus that will take us to Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Once there, we will board the two-masted schooner, the “Pacific Grace,” to spend five days learning to sail and exploring God’s creation from a unique perspective with the Sail And Life Training Society (SALTS).

We are learning to sail by sailing. But, even more, we are learning about history by sailing a schooner that replicates a 19th Century Grand Banks fishing schooner. We are learning about winds and tides by actually navigating through coastal waters. We are learning about maps and charts by using them, and learning about knots by tying and untying them. Plus, we are learning about how hot chocolate, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and the community built by working and worshipping together are such amazing gifts from God.

Safety First

MONDAY, 11:30 am

We are now on board and have just been through the safety lessons. (Check out the pictures of some of our trainees in the survival suits!). The sun is shining and we are going to be underway in a few minutes. Again, I am left marveling at how meaningful the learning is. There is obvious purpose to learning about how to steer the ship when you actually will be handling a 130′ ship leaving Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Likewise, learning about the symbols on the nautical charts is important when you are responsible for navigating safely (with supervision).

3 Foot Swells and Sunshine

MONDAY, 12:30 pm

Lunch is smelling amazing! Home for the next five days will be the Pacific Grace, and she is just that, as we glide past the Legislative Buildings and head out to the harbour entrance and then into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We are now underway and the Fore Watch is on duty. Two of our trainees are on Bow Watch, two are on Stern Watch, two are on radio and two are on wheel. 

There is a good wind out of the southwest and we should be able to put up some sails soon. Those on Port Watch are down in the hold eating lunch. There are three foot swells and it’s a little uncomfortable below deck right now. Caleb and Cole are on Bow Watch and they are keeping busy replying to all the boat traffic back to the wheel. Caitlyn is on wheel and has done a great job following Skipper’s instructions to get us safely clear of Victoria Harbour. We are turning northeast with the sun beating down on our starboard side. We are looking forward to a week of good winds, excellent learning and great fellowship.

Whales off starboard

MONDAY, 4:30 pm

We were curling our sails as we prepared to come into Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island, when we witnessed a whole pod of orcas swimming past us. With Mount Baker in the background and about 10-15 killer whales surfacing about 100 meters off our starboard beam, it was truly spectacular. What an awesome day!

This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip! In many ways, at its most basic level, we all recognize that this way of teaching makes sense. I think that Christ’s disciples learned about His kingdom through parables dealing with olive trees or fishing, while they were sitting in an olive grove or sailing on a fishing boat. We know that learning is deepest when we see and do something that is authentic and has application to our lives. 


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