Up with the yards! USC goes to sea


On October 19, a crew of USC students will sacrifice long showers, pizza, and the weekend’s parties to embark on a four-day voyage to Santa Catalina Island on the twin brigantines Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson. Each student is part of USC’s Nautical Science program, and has been studying navigation, sail theory, and seamanship both in the classroom and on board the USC program’s Atlantas and Artemis in preparation for this voyage. The brigantines they will be sailing, Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, are operated by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute, and sail year-round out of LA Harbor, educating Los Angeles area youth for life.

For one of the days, students will go ashore on Catalina Island to the Wrigley Institute, where they will have access to the University’s marine science laboratory and teaching facility for the day.

For the remaining days the students will use nothing but their own hands to set the 4540 square feet of sail to propel the traditionally rigged brigantines through the southern Californian Pacific waters. They will be challenged to measure speed with a chip log, take sights and learn celestial navigation using the sextant, and monitoring the ships’ position using paper charts. Students will also have the advantages of the modern navigational instruments on board; chart plotters, radar, GPS, long and short band radios, and weather fax to use and learn about the latest technology.

As one of the on-board education officers, I would appreciate any instructive ideas for the voyage. For more information go to http://www.lamitopsail.org/, or check back for a follow-up on the voyage.

Steve Christensen on 10/21/2006 15:33

I apologize ahead of time if this seems way too basic…but here is a tip for teaching knot tying (which in my experience is usually part of a trip like this). Part of the problem with getting folks to remember and use knots properly is that they don’t appreciate the function of knots. So I have always found it very valuable to first go over the different things knots do and their application: make a loop, stopper knot, join two lines (bend), lashing, hitch, and so forth. Then show on the boat what each means. Then finally discuss good knots to accomplish each. Really seems to help folks get beyond the “remind me what the bunny is for again?” stage.

Charlie Agnew on 10/23/2006 15:01

Thanks Steve, I think that is a great idea!

By Ocean Navigator