My thanks to the vessel operations program and a wonderful senior class
I’ve spent the last four years at the New York Harbor School, a maritime-themed public high school on Governors Island off the tip of Manhattan. I major in Vessel Operations, spending an average of 20 hours on the water over the course of a week. The school has taught me that being a mariner is an art, involving conducting one’s self intentionally thus contributing to a vibrant community. The fifth period rolls around and fourteen of us prepare for our three hours on the water. Today we board Indy 7, an ex-Navy Launch. I’m the crew chief. I’ve written our plan in the logbook: depart Pier 101, head for Liberty Landing Marina, return before 15:00 with a full tank of diesel. I assign positions to my classmates. With a nod from Captain Aaron, we take lines and head toward Jersey City. I smile as our bow emerges from behind the dock. Lady Liberty lounges on her island. The Staten Island Ferry chugs off our starboard. Our crew completes the necessary tasks like clockwork. We are part of an active harbor’s tick. Since sophomore year, I’ve dedicated my time to a buoy tender, two tall ships, a sailing yacht and J-24s. I’ve learned aspects of navigation through chart work and the Transas Bridge Simulator, a complex machine that replicates the experience one would have operating a commercial vessel. I began to find my place in this unique high school community during my freshman year. With no prior experience, I joined the school’s rowing team. I spent the first day in a jumble of unease. Yet, as the sky turned pink over Jersey, I stopped worrying. I felt I was a piece of something beautiful. I trained as a coxswain. I was enthused, and a little surprised, by the comfort I felt in the position. I paid attention to the rhythm of my rowers. I played with the tension on the rudder’s line. Now, I’m Co-Captain of our team. Instead of coxing, I pull with my crew. I serve as a mentor to the underclassmen. It makes me proud to see them give all they have to the water the way I do. Our fall race, I rowed as stroke. To my right, tugs pushed past, ferries whizzed by, and a tallship soared out of Chelsea Piers. As my arms focused on creating an even stroke, my mind wandered. I looked over at the tug; there are things I knew about her crew without having ever met them. They work hard, respect their crewmembers, and don’t hesitate to give their all to new situations. Mariners complete tasks honorably and intentionally. Exploring new waters is an essential part of being a mariner. I love going from boat to boat, learning all I can. It has been a privilege to be a part of the Harbor School’s crew. I feel ready for my next adventure.