David Hume is a typical high school sophomore. He likes to hang out with his friends and play sports. The one difference is that he loves going to school. And who wouldn't if they woke up every morning to the sounds of sea birds and the smell of salt air?
As one of the 23 students participating in this semester's Ocean Classroom, Hume's classroom is aboard the schooner Harvey Gamage. He spends his days snorkeling on reefs, helping cook meals, watching dolphins, and learning how to navigate the seas.
He and his shipmates do get classroom instruction. They're learning literature, maritime history, science, math and navigation at sea. The instruction will fulfill almost all the requirements of his second half of sophomore year; the only thing that Hume will have to make up is a half-year of language.
Hume said that his mother, Alice Hume, found out about the class, and he decided to sign up, because he knew that he wasn't going to like sitting in class all semester. His parents paid for the tuition, but Hume earned his own spending money.
The adventurous spirit runs in the family. Hume's brother, Matt, had participated in an Outward Bound type of course one of his high school semesters. Matt graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy and is now working for a sea-towing company, Towboat/US. Hume is thinking that he might want to attend the Merchant Marine Academy as well.
THE OCEAN CLASSROOM'S voyage to sea began in February. Students flew to St. Thomas where they boarded the schooner. From there, they sailed to Dominica; Saint Eustatius; Bequia; Mayreau and the Grenadines; Grenada; Tobago; Barbados; Iles Des Saintes; Guadeloupe; Antiqua; St. John; and Culebra. The next stop was San Juan where students went back to their home towns for spring break.
Hume came home to Mount Vernon and spoke about his experiences thus far. He said that he's really enjoying the trip so far. He said that the longest that they were out to sea at one time was five days. When they stop in port, he takes advantage of the internet cafes. Hume said that he missed home a little, but that "everyone's pretty cool."
Because he has had so many great experiences he wasn't sure which was more exciting than the next. He did say, "Walking in the rain forest was very cool." Quarters are cramped; two students share a small room. Since they spend so little time in their rooms, it's not too much of an issue.
HUME FLEW BACK to San Juan at the beginning of this month, where he and his shipmates began the trip north. From San Juan, they sailed for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Other destinations will include Jacmel, Haiti; Fernandina Beach, Florida; St. Mary's, Georgia; Cumberland Island, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina.
They will spend a week exploring the Chesapeake Bay and move up to the Delaware Bay before they sail to Mystic, Connecticut and Gloucester, Massachusetts. They are scheduled to dock in Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday, May 25, when the students will disperse and the trip will be nothing more than a great memory.