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Science instruction powered by the wind

Oct 4, 2016

Courtesy Portland Schooner Co.

Using a sail-powered vessel to learn something about oceanography and climate change seems like a natural. A group of students from St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, have taken to the sea for a two-week voyage up Maine’s rocky coast on the 72-foot schooner Bagheera. 

The nine students are studying oceanography and climate change during the voyages from Portland to Vinalhaven Island, then back. They’re studying under Prof. Johan Erikson, program founder and Associate Professor of the Science Division at St. Joseph’s, and a graduate assistant. 

Along the way, the group will camp out or stay in coastal lodging facilities such as Hurricane Island in Rockland. 

The program is part of a semester-long off-campus immersion program for environmental science students at the college. The course was first offered two years ago and is now offered every other year aboard the historic two-masted schooner.

Erikson is well familiar with the vessel, which was built in East Boothbay, Maine in 1924. He crewed Bagheera during its voyage from San Francisco to Maine in 2002, where it has been ever since. Portland Schooner Co. now operates the vessel, leading excursion sails from Portland during the warm-weather months.  

Capt. Sean Caniff of Portland Schooner Co. is operating the vessel with a small crew, during the two week scientific voyage. The group departed Portland on Saturday, Oct. 1 and is due to return two weeks later. 

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