S.A.L.T.S 2016- Snapshots of a week at sea


Amanda Ketch, In-the-field





In early October of 2016, 30 kids upped their status from school-kids to sailors, even if only temporarily. The memories made on the Pacific Swift (our small sea home) are ones that will surely stick with us through our days. I’m sure that years and years from now I will see a dime with a tall ship on it, or look through these photos, or hear someone make a turkey call, a small fraction of the warmth and joy that this trip brought me will be brought back to the surface. These photos are a part of my attempt to capture the indescribable joy and bliss that I felt on those days.

0002_22A (people in front of an apple tree)

Still swaying from our days at sea, we took rowboats onto a quiet island in the gulf. The only apparent resident was a retired kayaker that had been camping there for a few days. Old and gnarly trees, heavy with red apples gleaming in the sunlight, marked the place where a long forgotten orchard had once been. Photographed here; a small portion of our group stand enjoying the apples, warmed slightly by the early autumn sun.

0003_21A (Pacific Swift with the sails down)

Our temporary sea home, the Pacific Swift, shines in the afternoon sunlight. This photo was taken from the rowboats (dories) as we returned after our afternoon ashore. Small bays such as this were typical points of anchor surrounded by countless inlets and islands, close enough to watch the eagles swoop between the tips of the emerald pines.

0005_19A (Cami and nick on top of the shrouds)

A fun and common free time activity was climbing the shrouds. Strapped in with a harness one could climb to the top of the mast with relative ease. Pictured here, Cami and Nick have done just that. From this vantage point the ship, all that was familiar to us that week, seemed impossibly small. We could look out over the surrounding waters and watch the world from a new perspective. Minutes after this photo was taken a pod of orcas passed in the distance off the bow of the ship. We stopped our climb to marvel as the passed by.

0007_11 (rainbow raincoats at sunrise)

For two mornings, before breakfast, port watch (my watch) was on morning shift. This meant that before the other watches were awake, we would mop the decks and polish the brass. Seemingly a daunting task but, good company made time fly and we were often rewarded with warm morning sun and beautiful views. Rain gear was an essential, to combat not only the spray of the hose, but cold winds as well. An immense variety of raingear was present on the ship, as evidenced by the rainbow of raincoats above.

0008_16A (looking down from the top of the shrouds)

An aerial view of our temporary home was not hard to attain, all one had to do was climb the rope netting, the shrouds, that ran up each of the masts. It wasn’t until I was looking down on the ship that I realized how entirely unfathomable it seemed that it had been all that was familiar to us for the past days. This realization was a reminder of the fact that happiness is far more easily attained by mindset rather than elaborate stuff, we lived simply but so very happily aboard the Swift.

0010_8 (blurry photo of people’s backs)

No amount of photos or words will ever be able to capture the feeling of mug up, but it is a feeling so wonderful I feel as though I ought to at least try. At the end of every day everyone on the ship would gather in the hold, a room that served as a bedroom to fourteen, a kitchen and a dinning room. Everyone would find a piece of bed or bench or table or shelf to sit on as old and tattered songbooks were passed around. These books contained every wonderful and well-known song out there, from amazing grace, to twist and shout, to our favorite, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”. Those who could, would play guitar and the rest of us would sing our hearts out, regardless of whether or not we had a single ounce of talent to speak of. In all honesty it was a total cacophony, but the amount of joy in the room was indescribable. After the singing everyone would be given a mug of some delicious warm drink, and whatever wonderful baked creation Sadie (the cook) had made that day. Variety ranged from London fog to apple cider, and fudge cookies to carrot cake, with freshly picked apples)

0013_5 (gloomy lighting, deck of ship)

Not every day was sunshine and laughter. Some days we had rain, lots of rain, and winds that felt as though they were blowing directly onto my bones. Sometimes the boat rocked so much I though I was going to lose the contents of my stomach, it felt as though the whole world were going through the laundry (that may be slightly over dramatic). Sleep was a rare and precious occurrence, I was almost always at least a little groggy. But not once did I wish I wish I was off the ship. The solution to all of my problems was to go sit on deck and watch the waves, as they gently swayed us, and the clouds as they drifted lazily through the sky. The peace brought by my time on the ship, is incomparable to any that I’ve felt before.
0013_11A (pacific swift, blue sky, clouds, mountain silhouettes)

One windy afternoon I took this picture of the pacific grace, our sister ship, at full sail. Totally at the mercy of the winds and the sea they charged fearlessly ahead. There is something about this photo that, I believe, captures the essence of my experience. I love the idea that at times we were sailing, using only the wind, allowing the forces of nature to take us in whichever direction they choose. Relying on wind, we let go of control, of the need to do everything for ourselves, and have it go our way. We are merely were merely a small white speck on an incredibly vast ocean, beneath and infinitely more vast sky. If the silhouettes of the trees on the mountains fade together in the distance, why do we think that we won’t?

0017_7A (teachers doing cross fit)

Not all were ready for boat life as it was, but thankfully everyone was adaptable. Pictured here are the teachers that were on the boat (from left to right; Mr. Triggs, Mrs. Snuggs, and Mr. Walker). Mr. Walker was not willing to go a week without proper fitness. Thankfully for him, someone was kind enough to use their newly developed knot tying skills, and some extra rope to fashion him a make shift skip rope. As he skipped and Mr. Triggs did his sit ups, Mrs. Snuggs sat by and offered some lovely moral support and encouragement.

0021_1A (people around a table)

This photo was taken from on deck looking into the hold. The hold was host to most meals, mug up and served as a bedroom and a place for people to hangout. Clockwise from the front pictured are David, Rachel, Cami, Travis, Luke, Nathan, Unknown, Natalie, Mizuki, Sydney, Emily and Sarah. Many people embarked on the trip knowing one or two people aboard but by the end of the trip friendships were formed and friendships grew. There’s something to be said about the friendships made over five days, in close quarters and without showers, and our little SALTS family is very aware of that.

0022_0A (masts of the ship)

This photo was taken on the first day of the trip, as we stood on the dock, loading bags onto the ship before departure. I had absolutely no clue what to expect going on this trip, but armed with a camera, a blanket, and fair bit of fleece, with my friends by my side, I embarked upon this adventure into the unknown, and I’m so incredibly glad that I did. S.A.L.T.S. is the experience of a lifetime, impossible to compare to anything that I’ve done before, and the memories I made aboard the Pacific Swift are ones that are I don’t think I will ever forget.