The schooner Roseway tied up to the dock at Frink’s Park in Clayton, New York, on June 25th. It was a cool, dreary, drippy day. It had been 65 days and thousands of miles since we last saw the Roseway. My husband and I love tall ships. When we were in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, we booked an afternoon cruise on the 137-ft., historic landmark schooner, the Roseway.
That was back in March. We first saw the Roseway while we were touring Fort Christiansvaern, which is in St. Croix’s capital city, Christeansted. From the corner bastion of the Danish fort we saw a schooner meander to the middle of Gallows Bay and turn her bow into the wind. From across the water we could hear the command, “HEAVE!” We could hear young voices respond with a loud, “HO”! Slowly the great sail of the ship inched its way up the tall mast.
We asked the woman at the gift shop the name of the ship with the ruddy sails. “Oh that’s the Roseway. We cheer every fall when she returns to Christiansted. The Roseway and her crew do so much for the youth of the island.”
Later that afternoon, we were the ones on the deck with the line in our hands. When we heard the command, “HEAVE,” we responded by pulling hard on the line and shouting “HO.”
Wind filled our sails and we took off into the Caribbean Sea. The wind was brisk, but not blowing too hard. The Roseway’s bow rose and fell like the head of a galloping horse as we lurched through the water. Occasionally a wave would break over the gunnels sending us scrambling to rescue bags or camera cases before a torrent of water swept over them.
As we sailed, the crew filled us in on the Roseway’s true identity. While she looked like a sailing ship, she was really a school, The World Ocean School.
The Roseway was into its fourth year of educating the 7th grade students of St. Croix. Their program serves 25 students per session for five consecutive school days. Students learn navigation, theory of sail, oceanography, teambuilding, Caribbean history and reef ecology. They also learn about maritime careers. The experience broadens the students’ perspective of themselves and their island. Last year, the Roseway was a floating school for over 700 St. Croix students.
But the Roseway doesn’t limit itself only to seventh graders. Eighth grade students can participate in an overnight Roseway expedition to the island of St. John. High School students are eligible for the Summer Ambassador Program in Boston. And there are even opportunities for adults as well.
“Do you ever leave St. Croix?” I asked Christina, a crew member who had only been with the Roseway a few months. She told me the Roseway spent her winters in St. Croix, but headed for northern waters during hurricane season. “This year the Roseway will be spending the summer in the Great Lakes.”
Immediately, I perked up. “The Great Lakes? That means you’ll be going by our place. We summer on the St. Lawrence in the Thousand Islands.”
Christiana smiled. “My grandmother has a place in Ogdensburg. I grew up summering on the St. Lawrence.”
What a small world! But that is one of the Roseway’s Mission statements: to cultivate an expanded worldview.
On Sunday June 26, 2010 we watched the Roseway pull away from the dock at Clayton for a morning sail. We saw her ruddy sails rise to the rhythm of voices. Heave! Ho! Heave! Ho! It was another group of tourists sailing off on the Roseway, but this time on the more subdued waters of the St. Lawrence. Another group learning about teamwork and the importance of community.
The Roseway sailed out of Clayton at 4 the next morning on her way to Toronto. She will get as far as Duluth, MN this summer. It will be a long voyage back from Lake Superior to St. Croix for her fifth year educating the children of the Caribbean. But as the Roseway chalks up the nautical miles, she and her crew continue to better the world one sail at a time.
For more information about the Roseway and her mission visit www.worldoceanschool.org.
By Lynn McElfresh
Lynn McElfresh is a regular contributor to TI Life, often writing stories dealing with her favorite Grenell Island and island life. Lynn and her husband sailed on the Roseway this past winter in St. Croix, and were both surprised and pleased to learn that she would be plying the St. Lawrence River this summer. It was a happy reunion when “she” came to rest at Frink Park.