By Gino Santana

Stemming, Crabbing, and Warping

The skills of stemming, warping, and crabbing are nothing to be taken lightly. It is quite difficult to learn and put these type of concepts into perspective in an ordinary classroom. Fortunately enough our classroom consist of New York Harbor. The class and I were asked  “how can we dock the Indy 7 when current is doing this and you have this much space”. All students attempted the question but could not get the answer correctly alone. We worked to together to finally answer correctly, then Aaron told us to grab our bags and gear; a familiar phrase to start the second part of class.

Loaded and prepared to depart, we were told to head towards Pier 15 and were ready to learn. We dropped two students on the dock to catch lines for the first docking while I was the helmsman. Aaron told me to balance out the current using the throttle so we wouldn’t be moving forward or in reserve but holding my position; in other words stemming. I was told to stay straight, grow a feel, and realize what the vessel is doing. It is amazing to learn in a classroom environment then apply what you have learned to real life scenarios. When I began making my approach towards the dock I was bringing my bow towards port. While using the current, Indy moved towards port close enough to send lines and dock; this is crabbing. Having two lines on (Bow line and Stern spring) I was able to swing the stern around the pier while backing on the Spring and easing the bow line the boat was about to dock; this is called warping. Just another normal day at Vessel Operations.


Maritime Career Awareness Fair 2017


It was an amazing opportunity being able to attend the first ever Maritime Career Awareness Fair over at Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal. Having an interest in maritime based colleges and career options was more than important for my participation in the fair. With such limited time in the fair I was only able to speak with two stands that really captured my attention. When I walked over to Hornblower Cruises and with SUNY Maritime Colleges’ stand I asked helpful questions that clarified my choices with internships and future choices as a senior in Harbor School. Speaking to Mark Phillips (Director of Maritime Relationships for Hornblower Cruises NYC) we briefly discussed application process, entry level jobs, and future career opportunities with the company while mentioning past alumni who were once in my shoes. I was also fortunate enough to meet with the Dean of Admissions from SUNY Maritime college, Rohan Howell, for a second time since attending the STEM Academy this previous summer at their campus. As I spoke with him and four regiment enrolled students, they were able to answer questions about majors, career opportunities, and other persuasive aspects of what SUNY Maritime has to offer. This was an experience that I will take into account more and more everyday as my time as a senior approaches graduation.

Being a high school student from one of the most unique schools in the world, the work I participate in and out of school should relate to the opportunities that Harbor School has had to offer. Working along the industry in the past, I have experienced serving food and drinks to customers and taking on the role of a deckhand. Having friends and former classmates working with Hornblower Cruises NYC; it is no surprise that I am interested. Rowing on the south side of Pier 40 and frequently spending time on the water, I have had time to observe the vessels from afar and admire their business. Being given multiple tours of the different vessels and asking different workers questions about their experiences I should definitely consider applying in the warmer season if not soon. In mu current position of thinking about my future education and lifestyle SUNY Maritime seems like a perfect fit for me. Being close to home, working in the Maritime Industry, having students and faculty I have had past experiences and partnerships, gives no negatives correlations to attending, let alone applying, to SUNY Maritime. The Maritime Career Awareness fair helped push me a step further into my life and notified me of options for entering adulthood.

Young Men at The Helm Clearwater The Sloop


Aboard the Sloop Clearwater, students were invited for an overnight trip. Along with about 15 other high school students, Bryan and myself were sailing around the Upper Hudson River. Instead of only sailing and practicing seamanship skills, we were taught about the history of the Hudson. Students learned the status of pollution levels, water quality, and certain species that live in the river. We sang along to sea shanties, raised sails, shared meals, played games on shore, camped, spoke about the future and even the past. One significant part of the trip was the taking of student’s phones and witnessing how well we socialized and became one family. This three day trip is one experience I will never forget.

STEM at Suny Maritime

Power boating with SUNY Maritime interns


3D printed model of vessel designed by Shania, Steve, and I
Computer design class with Dr.Kidd


5 days at SUNY Maritime attending introduction classes to college courses while enjoying activities on campus; that is what STEM consist of. Students were shown and were given the opportunity to interact with the engine room simulator, computer lab, bridge simulators, library, museum, gym, and lived in dorms. Students were taken to City Island on small boats, went kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and were challenged to build and race cardboard kayaks.

Site Visit Hornblower Serenity

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Lucky enough, for our most recent class of vessel operations we took a site visit to pier 15. The class was invited to board, tour, and learn about one of Hornblower’s vessels named Serenity. We had the opportunity to meet Harbor School alumni, Captain Jose and first mate Medina. This gave us a chance to have class in a new location and have a different experience. Learning about other maritime workplaces allows us to make upgrades and edits to our vessels or shops in order to enhance our training with Harbor School. Students were allowed to tour the vessel and its two decks designated for passengers. However, we were not able to enter the engine room. Students were told where it is and who has clearance. At the wheel house, some students were lucky to steer the boat, ask questions to the Captain and overall have an enjoyable learning class period. Seeing maritime jobs in person, especially if the workers were once in our shoes like Captain Jose and Medina, is inspiring and important to us as we begin to make decisions about our careers.

Mystic Whaler Deckhand


During the recent summer break, I was invited for a deckhand position aboard The Mystic Whaler in New London, Ct. Throughout my short two weeks aboard the schooner I was able to be apart of many different kinds of trips. For example, lunch and Lobster dinner cruises either public or chartered. Also, I was lucky enough to be part of an educational program named gylp. The three-day and two-night program was a blast, similar to my freshmen indock in the summer of 2014, a group of students entering high school joined in on an adventure together by boarding this schooner. I assisted Captain John Eginton and Captain Pat by teaching and discussing sailing skills such as navigation, knot tying, going aloft, line handling, and tending sails underway to which I was familiar and comfortable leading. It was an amazing experience being able to teach students who are in a position I was once in and realize how much Harbor School and Vessel Operations has taught me. A huge thank you to Captain John and Captain Pat for offering the opportunity and helping me achieve my goal to sail and learn this summer.

State of Maine Bridge Information Sharing

After a tour of the well equipped machine shop, Hugh Hoarder (who directed our tour and visit wonderfully) and Cam Brian led us to the State Of Maine’s bridge. Within the bridge we spoke of the importance that every person plays aboard.

“No one is more important than the other,” they repeated again and again.

We also engaged in a conversation of what the future of maritime ocean transportation and technology would look like. For example, learning more of LNG so we can use it to its highest and safest  potential. Finally, Hugh and Cam shared facts about the ship and its cruises, including past experiences where technology has failed and manual controls saved the day. We were very lucky to get this mini lesson and get the insight into the State of Maine that our visit provided.

Comparing Maintenance Barge to our Maintenance Shop


As we work with so many different tools, supplies, and parts, our shop can grow noticeably cluttered and messy. This disorganization is very problematic for people in search for certain equipment. We regularly dedicate maintenance days at Waterfront Club for cleaning and organizing. However, staff and active students are always on the look for new ideas to improve our system. As a way to brainstorm, we went to the Seaport. Malcolm took us on board their maintenance barge and gave us a tour, which allowed us to find ideas and take pictures to apply back at home on Governors Island at the Mast Center. The comparison of the shops allowed us to work off ideas and think of new set-ups that would allow us to be better organized.


Helping the Seaport

It was a slow, normal high school day until our class arrived to the MAST Center. We were rushed to jump into our boiler suits, grab our bags, and board the Privateer. We had Captain Aaron, Captain Luis, and Captain Mike Abegg along with us.

Our mission was clear but time consuming. We had to get to the South Street Seaport, flake about 250ft of chain, and use the A frame on our vessel the Privateer to drop the mooring that was needed. This mooring was going to be used to put the Seaport’s schooner sail training boat Pioneer away for the off-season. Therefore this was an important job that needed to get done today. Students knew this and went to work, some with and some without gloves. Stations were simple but important. Two students lifted out the chain out of the can it was in and the others including myself passed the chain long to Bryan who was the one flaking the chain under the A frame. This job was successfully completed with the help of all the captains, students, and Seaport workers. Projects such as this one allow students like myself to feel a part of the crew. It’s not easy but it’s important to all of us. South Street Seaport is our partner and students such as myself volunteer and sail with them.


Historic Ship Alliance trip John W. Brown

John W. Brown is a historical liberty ship that was operated during World War II. The Harbor School has a program called Historic Ship Alliance which gives students the opportunity to take trips to learn more about the importance of this vessel.  Students are able to stay days and nights aboard the vessel running drills, acting as crew, and even preparing meals. September 29th – October 2nd a group of about 10 students (including myself) took a trip down to Baltimore, Maryland to crew and train on the liberty ship. Due to rain the cruise along the harbor aboard John Brown was cancelled, but students including myself helped during the docking and undocking process. We were able to send lines to and from the tug boat that assisted us in the transporting of the vessel. Students, assisted by trained crew, tied off lines and took them off when ordered. Never before having to work with such big diameter line it was difficult to get used to the feeling but we fought through the discomfort and did what had to be done. Besides the docking process students were able to prepare breakfast for the first morning due to the fact there was no chief aboard the ship at the time of our arrival. This meant a small team of students woke up before everyone else and tried to keep quiet while working together to prepare a meal for everyone aboard.