We’ve been on some really neat field trips with our homeschool group, but last week we went on one of the most amazing and memorable field trips yet. We got to experience a sailing ship. We drove down to Coos Bay and went on a three hour sail in the bay. Through Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, we went on a tall ship called the Hawaiian Cheiftain. Historical Seaport is an educational non-profit and their mission is to promote and preserve our maritime history and traditions. From their site: “Our three-hour Voyage of Explorers educational sail offers a learning opportunity that cannot be simulated in any classroom. After a brief safety class, students work cooperatively to set and trim the sails that carry their beautiful tall ship through the water. Students break into watch groups that rotate through three learning stations, each one focused on a different aspect of maritime history.”
The children split into three groups that day and learned about different aspects of sailing. We learned about different trading routes and what they traded for, we learned about what the life of a sailor was really like, and we learned about how sailors navigated and what they did when they couldn’t see the sun, moon, or stars. Historical Seaport describes the experience as hands-on history for kids and that’s what I loved about it so much- how interactive they made everything. Rather than reading about it in a book, we could actually experience being on a ship and it made the history we learned so much easier for us to visualize and imagine. The children got to work together with the crew to help set the sails. As we were sailing back to the dock, we learned some sea shanties, which were traditional work songs that helped sailors pull together in rhythm, share stories, and pass the time. As we all sang together and I looked out at the light reflecting on the water on that beautiful sunny day, I deeply felt it was an experience that would always be a special memory for us. I was so, so glad I had signed us up.
For those of you on the west coast, Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain visit 40 to 50 ports a year in Washington, Oregon, and California, with occasional visits to British Columbia. They’ve visited Oregon for the year (I’ve been recommending for friends to visit the ships, but looks like they left Oregon since last week) and are now currently in Washington. As far as I know, they have tickets for sailing and also for getting on the boat and having a tour, without going sailing. You can see their sailing schedule here. I thought I would mention it because it was such a memorable experience for us and I would highly recommend it!