Education News

Sails Hoisted, Ships Tall

The S/V Denis Sullivan has been making its annual summer educational pilgrimage on the Great Lakes for many years now, giving educators and graduate students in Great Lakes states like Wisconsin and Minnesota the opportunity for some hands-on experience in both the particulars of marine science and the proper technique for rigging a sail.

But it’s not every year that the Denis Sullivan’s voyage traverses two Great Lakes and culminates in a major event like the 2016 Tall Ships Festival in Duluth.

The 2016 voyage began August 12 in Milwaukee. Over the course of the ship’s six-day journey, the 31-member crew, a group that included 12 Wisconsin teachers, staffers from Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant and Wisconsin Sea Grant maritime archaeology fellow Tori Kiefer, experienced a month’s worth of unforgettable activities, including lowering hydrolabs (for water quality sampling) and plankton nets (for marine life sampling) into Lake Michigan to piloting a remote-operated vehicle in a swimming pool on the ship’s deck.

“It was a tough week both physically and mentally for all of us, but one of those amazing life experiences that I think we’ll all dwell on for some time,” said Kathy Kline, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Education Outreach Coordinator. ”There were two functioning toilets, no showers and little sleep, but also gorgeous sunrises, serene nights in the middle of Lake Michigan, and lots of laughs.”

Kiefer, who spent several evenings on the ship presenting slides about shipwrecks to her crewmates, said she really enjoyed the daily ship-handling duties. As someone who studies the wrecks of ancient vessels, the opportunity to hoist the ship’s 500-pound anchor and step out onto the ship’s bowsprit—that’s the timber that extends out from the front of the ship—to secure the head rigging were lifetime-level highlights. 

For Kline, a key highlight was viewing a photograph taken by the Duluth Visitor’s Bureau of the Denis Sullivan as it first appeared on the horizon, approaching the city.

“There we were—31 of us aboard that little speck sailing on Lake Superior. It really gave me a new perspective on our Great Lakes,” she said. --ARC  

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents