Seascapes: Beginning Explorations

Phyllis Taylor


Teaching in New Haven: Table of Contents | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute


Today we’re going to begin a new exploration, a voyage. We’re going to learn about water, boats, marine life, and men of the sea—watermen. While we’re studying the seascapes and the lives of others, we will also start to explore the patterns and seascapes of our lives. Why is mankind fascinated by the sea? What elemental drives have urged man to explore the unknown? Why by sea? What urge compelled you to want to explore the oceans?

“Man hoisted sail before he saddled a horse . . . Watercraft were man’s first tool for his conquest of the world,” says Thor Heyerdahl in the Early Man and the Ocean.

In his book Heyerdahl demonstrates that it was much faster and easier to carry goods by water than overland. Tons of goods could be transported hundreds of miles by water.

Is it just practicality then that causes man to venture on the waterways—the easiest way of getting from one place to another? What about the present day? Why do men still explore the sea when faster and safer methods of travel are now available? In this unit we will explore some possibilities.


The life of our seas is important to every person on earth. Even if a man or woman has never seen the major oceans and lives in the middle of a vast desert, the quality of his or her life is dependent upon the conditions of the seas.

Throughout centuries, mankind has used the seas for water, commerce, conquest, food, power, recreation, transportation, and waste disposal. The development of sea craft and mankind’s increasing explorations have determined in large measure the place in wh ich we live, the languages we speak, and the way we think of our world. Today, with an ever-growing world population, and geometrically increasing dependency upon the world’s water, we are in danger of poisoning our children and ourselves and consequently, our entire world. By educating our children and ourselves about the sea and its importance to mankind’s survival, we may foster prudent use of our waterways and prevent worldwide destruction of our most important resource, water.

This is an English unit which uses the theme of ocean exploration as a basis for teaching reading, thinking, writing, and speaking. This unit is intended as an introduction to the language and lore of the sea and is meant to be used with high school fresh men, although it may be adapted to other grade levels. In addition to the development of basic English skills, this unit has as a goal the extension of students’ knowledge and awareness of the sea. As a central part of this unit, students will develop a l og wherein they will explore not only the physical aspects of this world, but also their own mental and, to some degree, emotional selves. I hope that one outcome of this unit will be that the students will understand our symbiotic relationship with the s ea and the need to respect the oceans. It is also hoped that in the future they will desire to work actively to save our coastal environments.

General objectives for this unit are:

1. To improve skills in reading, understanding, and analyzing specific works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.
2. To learn vocabulary of the sea, and to increase working vocabulary generally.
3. To become familiar with selected literature of the sea.
4. To practice and to improve skills in writing by answering questions, writing observations, narratives, summaries, log entries, and other writing activities.
5. To gain skill in critical thinking and speaking by participating in group discussions, presentation, and problem solving activities.
6. To understand mankind and his relationship to the sea by observing how other men have worked with the sea and analyzing one’s own experiences on the ocean.
The presentations in this unit are not intended to be followed recipe style. They are presented merely as suggestions that the teacher may choose to select or to adapt to his or her own way of working. Before beginning with a unit of this kind it is important to understand a little about the water which surrounds us.

The Seas

To understand the importance of the oceans in our lives, we must go back, briefly, to the beginnings of the earth. Current theory maintains that as the earth cooled, hydrogen and oxygen—water’s components—formed water vapor. As the earth’s crust continued to cool this vapor began to rain—for centuries, creating the lakes, rivers, and oceans of the earth.

Today, every drop of this original water is still in use. The cycle begins as water vapor which, moved by air currents and changing temperatures, becomes liquid or solid and falls upon our world.

This water flows into the waterways and splatters onto the ground. Water then seeps below ground and sinks through our rivers, lake and stream beds picking up salts, minerals, and earth as it travels. Eventually, this mineral-rich water travels to the oceans where wind and temperature evaporate large amounts of the water and the process begins again.

Over ninety-seven percent of all the water on earth, according to the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, is held in the oceans. 2.15 percent is frozen in glaciers and polar caps, and the rest, less than one percent, make up the lakes, rivers, streams, and underg round water deposits. Only six-tenths of one percent of all the water in the world is available for use by mankind and nature as surface ground water.1

Seventy-one percent of the earth’s surface is covered by our seas and oceans. Within the oceans lie whole mountain ranges, large valleys up to six and one-half miles deep, entire rivers of current, and seemingly infinite forms of sea life including today’s largest animal, the whale. The ocean offers vast resources in the form of food, and has been traditionally a source of good, cheap protein, making fishing a thriving industry in any coastal community.

Additionally, the ocean contains every element found on dry land including, according to James Dugan in World Beneath the Sea, “... an estimated ten million tons of gold, 500 million tons of silver, and twenty billion tons of uranium.”

From the same text Dr. John Mero, president of Ocean Resources Inc., one of the companies pioneering in ocean mining, states: “The dangers and the lack of technology have slowed the development of ocean mining. But I think that within the next 30 years offshore mining will be a five-to-ten million dollar industry . . . By the year 2000, offshore wells will supply fifty percent of the world’s oil.”

The potential of the sea also includes its power. Today, around the world, several countries use the ebb and flow of the tides to generate electricity.

Furthermore, the value of the seas for recreation must not be underestimated. In 1968, Dr. Edwin Winslow and Alexander Bigler, planners, found that 112 million people spent approximately fourteen billion dollars on ocean-oriented recreation in the United States. This figure surpassed the money spent to buy fish caught by our fishing industry and petroleum products resulting from our offshore oil wells. Recreation is the largest of all the industries derived from the seas.2

If we think in terms of human lives rather than millions of dollars then the most important of all the sea’s resources is fresh water. James Dugan states that over 100 million gallons of water flow every day from the world’s desalination plants. Key West Florida with a population of over 34,000 depends upon such a plant to fulfill all of its water requirements.

Despite the assets gained from the sea, mankind is the cause of a major liability—pollution.

In another quotation from World Beneath the Sea James Dugan asserts: “In the United States some fifty-two million people, one-fourth of the population, live within 50 miles of the sea coasts. From these congested areas, a torrent of domestic and industrial effluents spill directly into bays, estuaries, and coastal waters.”

Add to these effects the poisoning of the sea from the world over and it is easy to sea the unhappy consequences on us all. Because the oceans are in many ways a dominant factor in the total environment, mankind’s interference in any one element may affect the entire world in ways that we don’t yet understand.

The U.S. Commission of Marine Science, Engineering, and Resources in its publication, Our Nation and the Sea, states: “Mankind is fast approaching a stage when the total planetary environment can be influenced, modified and perhaps controlled by human activities.”

This means that the imaginary person at the beginning of this writing who lives in the midst of a vast desert may be unable to obtain edible fish or to vacation near the ocean. He may find his skies raining poison rather than clean water, or that man’s interference may have rerouted the air currents preventing any water at all from reaching his isolated home. Because of usurpation of our underground water reserves, our hypothetical man may even discover that the water table has dropped so low that he cannot obtain enough clean water to sustain himself. The need for everyone to know something about our waterways is paramount to our future survival.


Boats have been part of man’s culture since earliest times. Proof of this is that the earliest records of boats, Egyptian and Mesopotamian pictures, show an already well-developed seacraft. Common sense dictates that people who live near large bodies of water, be they lakes, rivers, or oceans, must of necessity learn to cope with them. Failure to understand the seas leads to tragedy. Mastery of the seas, on the other hand, brings many rewards: food, drink, transportation, recreation, wealth, and power. The first requirement of any sea-going craft, as Thor Heyerdahl points out, must be that it float. Suppose, therefore, that the first boat was a log. Lash a few logs together and you have created a raft capable of supporting tons of weight. In Kon Tiki, Dr. Heyerdahl proved that a simple raft could not only sail rivers and inland waterways, but be a seaworthy craft as well.

Peter Freuchen in his Book of the Seven Seas shows that primitive peoples all over the world had seaworthy craft. Inhabitants of the South Pacific constructed easily maneuverable balsa wood rafts and outrigger canoes; Eskimos made kayaks and larger canoe- like boats, called oomiaks, from animal skins; the Egyptians fashioned sea-worthy boats of reeds; and the Russians made large, clumsy rafts of spruce. Peoples all over the world have found ways of making sea-going craft from the materials available to them.

Although most of these craft used manpower, some of these early peoples had discovered the principles of sail and the wind-driven craft. The Egyptians, Vikings, Greeks, Phoenicians, and South Americans all used the wind to power their boats or rafts long before the time we ascribe to the large sailing ship.

Most of these craft could only sail before the wind. For that reason men also were used to power the craft. Often the men who rowed these ships were slaves or prisoners who would spend their entire lives chained to the oars they pulled.

Because human nature is not all goodness and light, it was soon discovered that the people who obtained the seas gained wealth and power of which, otherwise, they could only dream. Thus, the Egyptians, rulers of the Nile, used the labor of conquered nations to man the galleys of their warships and pleasure craft. The Greeks, who under Alexander the Great ruled the world as they conceived it, controlled the entire Mediterranean with their large navy. And to the North, Vikings with their soldier-rowed ships containing one large sail, controlled the northern seas as far west as Canada.

The era of the modern sailing ship really began in the fifteenth century with Prince Henry of Portugal. He became fascinated by the sea and in 1416 founded a school for seamen. He invited the most knowledgeable scholars from all over the world to the school. The personnel included mathematicians, map makers, astronomers, and sailors. His goal was to develop a craft hardy enough to explore the oceans without hugging the land. The result was the caravel which was, according to Peter Freuchen in the Book of the Seven Seas, “larger and slimmer than anything yet made, carried more sail and was tough enough to withstand gales and waves at sea.”

This technological achievement gave the Portuguese and the Spanish control of the seas for many years. During the course of that time Spain and Portugal divided the Americas between them and became wealthy from their trade in the East. Their first, serious challenge came from the Turks whom they demolished, and later from the British. Most students have heard of the Spanish Armada and the battle in which the little English navy destroyed the big Spanish fleet.

According to Peter Freuchen, the two navies were evenly matched in number and size of ships and in number of men. The English, however, had better trained leadership who possessed a new battle strategy and technologically improved ships, which were able to encircle parts of the Spanish fleet and pound the hulls with cannon shot.

After ten days of bitter fighting, the Spanish fleet began a retreat—north around Scotland. More Spaniards died on the flight home than in the battle, and the British had established themselves as the new rulers of the sea.

While the English battled Spain for possession of the sea, the Dutch had improved the carrying ability of their ships and had simplified the rigging, so that even Sir Walter Raleigh reported that a Dutch ship of 200 tons was able to carry goods cheaper than a British ship “. . . by reason he hath but nine or ten mariners and we nearly thirty.” Also they “build every year near one thousand ships and not a timber tree growing in their own country.” 3

Wealthy Dutch merchants formed the monopolistic Dutch East India Company and infiltrated the Spanish and Portuguese trade in the East. Their Dutch cogs rounded the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and headed for Java, where they loaded spices, fabric, and metals from the Orient. To the North the Dutch searched for the northeast route across the top of the world, founded Spitzbergen, and returned not only with furs but also with oil, bone, and ambergris from a lucrative whaling industry. These ships made Holland one of the richest nations of the seventeenth century.

The English East India Company competed with the Dutch both in the East and in the North. Eventually, the British brought India under its influence and practiced whaling in the open seas after the whales had learned to avoid the land. In time the British also dominated China’s tea and opium trade and outlived its Dutch rival.

In addition to the Dutch, the Scandinavians to the north also enjoyed the prosperity of a booming fur trade and whaling industry. The Americans, not to be outdone, perfected the art of whaling and developed a shipbuilding industry along the Eastern shore.

America entered sailing in the eighteenth century and remained competitive for many decades. Americans designed the fastest sailing ships abroad for the purpose of sailing opium, slaves, or anything else that could be traded for huge sums of money. In addition to these fast-running clippers there were fishing boats, whalers, and many other boats built for special purposes. The American coast from New York to Boston contained some of the finest shipbuilders in the world.

New Haven, then as now, was a town with a strong sea-going tradition. The sharpie, a boat peculiar to the area, was an early oyster boat. In addition, schooners and ketches made their way into New Haven harbor. Some of New Haven’s first families, the Townsends for example, made their money running produce to the Caribbean to feed the slaves and returning with rum and a little slave-running on the side. Most New Haven watermen, however, were fishermen working Long Island Sound much as they do today.

In the early nineteenth century, Robert Fulton’s steam engine began the end of the era of sail and made the African and Asian continents accessible. The Europeans were able to carve up the African continent and gain entry to China and India. Steam was quickly followed by the highly efficient diesel motor which most commercial craft still use today.

One other point that needs to be mentioned is the condition of the crew on sea-going vessels. Many of our students watch “Love Boat” on television or read romanticized accounts of trips to foreign lands. Recruiting officers even today are not very honest in depicting life as it really is aboard ship: “Join the Navy and see the world.” But life aboard sailing vessels was extremely hard. It was even more difficult if the captain was hard or incompetent. Sailors had the poorest quarters, little and often rotten or moldy food, and brackish, sometimes contaminated water. More men died from illness than from the everyday hazards of the sea.

To make matters worse, when at sea, crewmen were at the complete mercy of the captain who had the power of life or death over his men. And if a man survived years at sea and managed to get home, he was often cheated of his wages. Conditions were often so bad aboard ship that captains would not put into port in order to keep their crews. Sailors were often shanghaied by men called crimps and sometimes the seamen were slaughtered or left in a foreign port near the end of a voyage for their wages or their share of the profits. In the United States, it was not until the nineteenth century, after the publication of Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast, that the first laws protecting the ordinary seaman were passed.

The change to steam engines produced little change of conditions for the seamen. Stoking the massive boilers and cleaning out the ashes and soot were hot, dirty, and dangerous jobs. Further, the space occupied by the boilers and the fuel precluded better accommodations for the crew. The diesel engine and changing social mores allowed for improvement in living conditions for the sailors. Even today, however, stories abound of crews which have been mistreated aboard ship, and it is well for anyone thinking of signing upon the nearest tramp steamer to be wary.

The Log

As part of the unit’s experience students will be asked to keep a log. A log is a journal or diary where a person writes his or her impressions, thoughts, feelings, and dreams. A sailor’s log begins with observations about the weather, time of day, location, and surroundings. These writings were not just a whim on the part of early seamen. These observations were often central to a ship’s survival. Before discovery of accurate ways to determine longitude, many captains’ logs were kept secret because of the information they contained about tides, winds, currents, hidden reefs, and other dangers.

A log forces the writer to be more careful observer of things around him as well as his inner life. In order to derive the benefits of a log, it is best to establish a routine, daily, if possible.

Because a log is handled every day, it must be quite sturdy. It is best if the pages are sewn rather than glued or threaded with spiral wire or rings because the pages are less likely to come apart. Thicker covers tend to last longer than thin, paper covers. Notebooks fitting this description can be found inexpensively or if you choose, fancier bound books are available. Students in my classes have found logs for as little as one dollar, although several have decided to buy more fancy books.

Students will be given assignments to complete in the log, but more often students may write in the log whatever pleases them. There are many things students can put in their logs:

1. Students can use the log to picture their lives, not only with words, but with pictures or colors or things students feel give an honest presentation of their lives.
2. Students can use the log to write what they think and feel are important to them. For example: What would you like to do with your future? Are people pushing you in directions you don’t want to go? How? Why? Can you change this situation? How do you feel about selected people in your life? Would you like to change them? Yourself? In what way?
3. Students can use the log to write new ideas, those that just pop into the head or those which require careful development. Students may also write new ideas that they’ve read or heard about. The student may wish to expand these ideas or perhaps create a fantasy.
4. The student may write snatches of conversations he or she thinks clever, funny, or dramatic. Many writers use this technique to preserve ideas, and a student may find something he or she wishes to use in a future story. Students can jot down jokes, family stories. the latest rhyme or poem.
5. Vocabulary is a very important tool for a writer. Write down new words and their meanings, make puzzles of the words, or put down the new words in sentences.
6. Describe people, things, a favorite room, the cafeteria at lunch time, a best friend, a favorite grandparent, the lake on a rainy morning.
7. Put real items in the log: photographs of good friends or of a happy trip, past theater ticket stubs for a terrific time, a postcard from a foreign land or a cartoon the student enjoyed. Use rubber cement as the glue so it is possible to remove or rearrange items.
8. Experiment! Try a new kind of writing, a secret code, or some unusual poetry. Bend the conventions, break the rules, and see if you like it.
In addition to giving students ideas about how to use the log, show students examples from logs or diaries. Following are some brief examples from previously printed writings.

Below is a sample from Dove by Robin Graham, just a few days after the start of his trip:

“Just took down the mainsail . . . because of a squall. Enjoyed seawater bath—poured buckets of brine over my head. Gosh it’s good to feel clean. The smell in the cabin had disappeared, so it must have been me that caused it and not the cats.”
Later, when he is almost home, Robin writes:
“I can’t believe it . . . I don’t know what I really feel except that my stomach is all knotted up . . .”
In Joan Baez’s book, Daybreak, she writes about her mother:
“My mother—she can’t understand anything phony. She refuses to go to teas, prefers young people to older . . . When she runs on the beach, dressed in blue jeans and a T-shirt with her hair all down, she looks nineteen. She is fifty-four . . .”
Thor Heyerdahl writes in Kon Tiki:
“May 17. Norwegian Independence Day. Heavy sea and fair wind. I am cook today and found seven flying fish on deck, one squid on the cabin roof, and one unknown fish in Torstein’s sleeping bag . . .”
It is important to fix a specific amount of time each day to write in the log. The time can vary from ten minutes to one hour or more. Students should write even if they feel they’ve nothing to say. It’s important to establish the habit. The good writing will come. On the other hand, students should not be slaves to their logs either. If one misses a day here and there or if some days produce just a few ragged lines, no great harm has been done. Students should keep logbooks neat and write and draw in ink or magic marker only to prevent smudging.

I normally begin each year with regular log checks, collecting them for assignments or just reading through them, beginning at eight-to-ten day intervals and gradually expanding to once every six or eight weeks. In this way I hope to establish writing as a habit and also encourage students to continue their logs long after they’ve left the classroom.


There is no best way to present the elements of this unit. This unit begins with short fiction because most students are already familiar with the short story and because a suspenseful story can draw students into reading information about the sea.

Additionally it is important that an English unit be flexible enough to blend with other units in a marine studies environment. If, for example, students are going on an orientation trip aboard a boat, that may be the ideal time to study vocabulary identifying parts of a ship.

After students’ first trip, the teacher may wish to capture students’ observations in their logs. While students are learning to use some navigational aids, the instructor may have students write instruction booklets or produce instructional films or demonstrations about the use of various navigational tools. In this unit Gallico’s “The Snow Goose” is the second story presented. If, however, students don’t study the tidal marshes until spring, the teacher may wish to postpone reading “The Snow Goose” until then.

The next section of this paper begins with samples of introductory lesson plans followed by study guides for several writings. Texts or anthologies in which these writings can be located are listed in the bibliography at the end of this paper. Wherever possible, suggestions for other readings in the same genre are listed at the end of each guide.

Lesson Plans

Day 1

To introduce students to writing in logbooks.
To encourage students to think constructively about life goals.

Logbooks, pens.

Explain that the students are to write their first entry.
Students should begin by placing the date, time, temperature, weather, and surroundings at the top of their entry. The book The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone contains pictures of his log that students can examine. The teacher may wish to display this and other samples of logs.

Day 2

To share student writings and ideas.
To explore a question and express your own ideas—an introduction to exposition.

Materials Logbooks, pens, transparencies containing presentations.

Procedure Encourage students to share voluntarily their imaginary trips.

Discuss stories: Why did you choose to travel there? Why do you want to go? Do we sometimes want to do things without knowing why?

On a transparency, present the following:

a. Kenichi Horie sailed alone from Osaka, Japan to San Francisco in 1962. He was 23 years old at the time. When asked, “Why did you do it?” he responded in his book, Kodoku: “Well, I crossed it just because I wanted to. Honestly, I didn’t have any purpose or motive other than that when I decided to sail across the Pacific. But none of these people were able to understand this.”

b. In Moby Dick, Ishmael says: “Whenever I find myself going grim about the mouth, whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul . . . whenever . . . it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can.”

Ask students their thoughts on each quotation. Allow a few minutes discussion.

Assignment: Why is it hard for a person to explain why they want to go to the sea? Are they hiding something from others? From themselves? Why would going to sea help Ishmael? Did you ever want to change the routine of your life? If so, what were your reasons for desiring a change? Did you get a chance to get away? Where did you go? Did the experience change you? How? Ask students to express their feelings about these questions, then to write about a time they wanted to go away. Students may choose an alternate experience of explaining why Ishmael yearns for the sea. Length: 150-200 words.

Students will be reading several stories in which an individual decides to go to sea. Students should always look for the reasons a person begins an adventure.

Study Guides


Short story: “Sea Devil,” by Arthur Gordon
“Sea Devil” tells of a man whose name we never know, but of whom we learn that he likes to fish at night, because “he found in it a reality that seemed to be missing from his twentieth century job and from his daily life.” He fishes by using a cast net. On one particular velvety Florida night, he casts his net only to have the sea “explode in his face.” He has ensnared a “Sea Devil”—a large manta ray—in his net and because the net is attached to his wrist, the man finds himself suddenly dragged into the ocean, and struggling for his life. How he survives, and he does survive, is told in stirring descriptions which lend themselves to being read aloud. As a result of his experience, the man learns something about his relationship with nature which changes his life.


1. Why does the man like casting alone at night?
2. The man is described as a person who “Worked with his head, not with his hands.” Is it his head or his hands which finally saves him? Tell how he saves himself.
3. At the beginning of the story, the author says, “He liked being the hunter, skilled and solitary, and elemental.” But at the end of the story the man sets a captured mullet free. Why?
4. In this story, how does the setting add to the conflict and the tension?
5. At the end the man thinks, “He knew he would do no more casting alone at night . . . No, not he.” Why?
Log Assignment: Have you ever been in a life threatening or in an emergency situation? Tell about it. Use words of action, color, size, shape, and feel. Tell how the situation was resolved.

Vocabulary: Before students begin reading, acquaint them with the following words. The teacher may have students write definitions and sentences or complete the small exercise which follows the words.

bay lagoons
sea wall roe
skiff moored
atavistic retrieve
gunwale channel
port-starboard bow-stern
tenaciously pinioned
respite imminent
doggedly pilings
Matching Exercise: Write the letter of the word or group of words which has the closest meaning to the first word.

1. lagoon: (a) large ocean (b) grassy plains (c) desert (d) lake of brackish water
2. sea wall: (a) barrier to prevent beach erosion (b) a kind of fish (c) barrier to prevent swimmers from going out too far (d) sea area where the heavy density of fish prevent navigation
3. roe: (a) small boat (b) fish eggs (c) young mullets (d) seaweed
4. skiff: (a) sharp wind (b) to run away from (c) small flat-bottomed boat (d) sailor’s hat
5. moored: (a) rowed slowly along the shore (b) stuck in mud (c) tried to signal location (d) secured a boat to shore
6. atavistic: (a) throwback to the primitive (b) antagonistic (c) trying to accomplish the impossible (d) understanding how others think
7. channel: (a) short, simple song (b) tall building (c) deep, navigable passage (d) thin, narrow ship
8. tenaciously: (a) uncertainty (b) doggedly (c) completely (d) precariously
9. pinioned: (a) hemmed shirt or pants (b) asked someone’s opinion (c) nailed a board (d) held in place
10. imminent: (a) about to occur (b) very famous (c) dangerous (d) to be happy
Project: Locate information about the ray described in this story. Draw a picture and describe the ray’s habits. Are there other members of this family? Are they as frightening as this story depicts them? Design a bulletin board using the information you’ve collected.

Poem: “Carmel Point,” by Margaret Phyllis MacSweeney

In this poem the speaker witnesses a “daring” young crab eaten alive by a beautiful, soft flower-like sea anemone. The speaker runs to his or her father and tells him that he or she is “sorry to be born” because he or she is frightened by so many things. The imagery in the poem is quite beautiful and at the same time menacing. The poem uses personification portraying the anemone as a woman.


1. Why is the speaker horrified to see the anemone eat the crab?
2. What aspect of this occurrence makes the speaker afraid?
Log Assignment: Have you ever seen anything that frightened you? Describe what you saw. Describe the colors, sizes, shapes, smells, and feelings of the time. How did you feel as you watched? What did you do afterward? When did you first realize you were afraid? Did this experience change you in any way?

Project: There are many kinds of sea anemones. Design a story board or a series of slides with pictures of various anemones. Write a dialogue in which you describe the plants, their habitat, and their life cycles.

Poem: “First Lesson,” by Philip Booth
In this poem a father comforts his daughter during her first swimming lesson. The poem flows rhythmically and visually like the waves in the ocean. The speaker encourages his daughter not to float “face down” but when afraid to “lie back” and let the waves “hold you.”

This poem, like “Carmel Point,” uses the sea to express a viewpoint about living. It is an optimistic poem with a lesson about riding with life. Have students reread the last five lines of the poem and talk about what they mean.

Log Entry: How can the last five lines of the poem be applied to life generally. Give an example from your life to show how this advice could be used.

Project: Write and illustrate a poem of your own about a “First lesson” you had. It does not have to be about swimming, but could be about a first day at school or a first party or the first boy or girl you dated. Think about the first time you did someth ing or realized something, and fashion your own poem.

Novelette: The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico
The Snow Goose is a short novel which takes place in England from 1930 to 1960. Rhayader, hunchbacked and with a misshapen arm, resides alone in an old lighthouse amidst estuaries which he has shaped into a wildlife preserve. One afternoon, a young girl,Fritha, comes to his home carrying a wounded large white bird. Rhayader helps the bird, a Canadian snow goose, and the bird and the girl become regular visitors to the lighthouse. Years pass and the girl and the bird grow to adulthood.

During this time Rhayader and Fritha have grown to care for one another and share a mutual regard for the wildlife which surrounds them.

World War II erupts and Rhayader attempts to enlist but is rejected due to his deformity. Then in 1940 British men are stranded along the shore in the Battle of Dunkirk. A general call is issued for anyone possessed of a boat to go in under fire and rescue the stranded soldiers. Rhayader goes, despite Fritha’s protestations, valiantly rescues many men, and is killed. The snow goose returns to Canada, and Fritha continues to care for Rhayader’s birds until the lighthouse is bombed by the Germans. The sea regains the land and the estuary becomes barren and desolate.

Although sentimental, the story is simply and beautifully told. It’s easy to see the similarities between Fritha, Rhayader, and the snow goose, and students will respond to Rhayader’s courage. Students will also learn something about the relationship of man to nature and about the destructive manner of war to all things.

Questions: Chapter 1

1. What is the setting of the story? Describe it.
2. Why had Rhayader gone to live in the lighthouse?
3. Describe Rhayader’s personality. What skills does Rhayader possess?
4. What brings Fritha to the lighthouse? How does Fritha react to Rhayader at first? Later?
5. The author says that Fritha reminded Rhayader of wild water birds. What does he mean?
6. When the snow goose leaves, Fritha also leaves. How does Rhayader react to her going?
Chapter 2
1. Why was Rhayader surprised when the snow goose returned?
2. What did Fritha learn from Rhayader?
3. How did Rhayader react the summer the bird did not return?
4. The year the bird returned, it was full grown. Compare the bird with Fritha.
5. How does Fritha feel about Rhayader now? How do you know?
Chapter 3
1. In spring 1940, when the pink-feet geese migrated, what did the snow goose do?
2. How did Fritha and Rhayader react?
3. How does Rhayader explain his going to Dunkirk in his little boat?
4. Why does Rhayader tell Fritha she can’t go with him? Who does go?
5. What happens to: a. Rhayader? b. Fritha? c. snow goose? d. the lighthouse?
6. Why do you think it was important to Rhayader to go to Dunkirk?
7. What effects does war have on people? The land? Wildlife?
Log Assignment: Are there ever reasons to go to war? If so, what are they? Explain and use examples. If not, explain.


Find information about the wild birds mentioned in the story. Draw pictures and write brief reports of their habits and lives.

Read about the battle of Dunkirk. Report to the class the happenings, results. Use pictures or slides to aid your report.

Design a bulletin board about the Canadian snow goose. Show pictures, patterns of migration, life cycle.

Read about and describe the effects of war on nature. Illustrate your report with photographs and eye-witness accounts.


2. low part of a river influenced by tides
4. with suspicion
6. land covered at high tide and exposed at low tide
7. small bodies of water remaining after ebb tide
8. adroit, dexterous

(figure available in print form)


1. still exists
3. face
5. was next to


1. mud flats 2. tidal pools
3. estuaries 4. bulwark
5. encroaching 6. breached
7. abutted 8. beacon
9. garnered 10. askance
11. visage 12. pinioned
13. extant 14. uncompromising
15. deft
Play: The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, by Herman Wouk

Lieutenant Stephen Maryk is being court-martialed for relieving his superior officer, Commander Philip Francis Queeg, of his duty during the course of a storm. Because this breech of the law occurs during World War II, Maryk’s life is at stake. He is being defended by Lieutenant Barney Greenwald at the request of the prosecuting attorney, Lieutenant Commander John Challee. Challee has requested Greenwald to take the case because he recognized his friend as a fighter for lost causes.

At first Maryk has little faith in Greenwald. Greenwald has expressed his view that he’d rather prosecute Maryk than defend him. Greenwald refuses to tell Maryk the plan for Maryk’s defense. When Maryk asks him why he took the case, Greenwald explains that he is the only person who can free Maryk.

Maryk decides to gamble and the trial begins. Various witnesses tell of the conditions aboard ship, the storm, and the ship’s takeover. The trial is masterfully presented as Maryk’s witnesses are shown to be scheming, idiotic, or unknowledgeable. Greenwald realizes that the only way to save his client is to prove Queeg incompetent. This he does by skillfully manipulating Queeg and bending the legal system. Maryk is acquitted but at the expense of Queeg’s career.

At a victory celebration Greenwald surprises everyone by demonstrating that Lieutenant Thomas Keefer, a novelist and supposed friend of Maryk, engineered the takeover and that Queeg, for all of his unpleasant eccentricities, had a noble side. He was there when the war began, or, as Greenwald puts it, he kept “Mama out of the soap dish.”

Students must understand a little about World War II and the navy regulations in order to understand the play. Once that is accomplished, they should find the play easy going. Because this play is simply staged, have the students act it out. Because each character is so distinct, students will gain much from watching the actions. Have the student take turns directing various scenes.

In this play is a variety of conflict. It exists between persons, between the individual and the institution, and between the reality of life versus the ideal. The question, “Is there a time to go to war?” is again raised. There is enough conflict to encourage excellent discussions.

Questions: Act I

1. What kind of man is Greenwald? Why does the writer spend so much time on him during scene 1?
2. Describe Maryk.
3. Of what is Maryk accused? What is the penalty if found guilty?
4. What is Maryk’s attitude toward Greenwald at the beginning of the play?
5. What is Maryk’s attitude toward defending Maryk? Why?
6. Why doesn’t Greenwald want Keefer on the stand?
7. What is Blakely’s role at the courtmartial? What are his attitudes toward Greenwald at first?
8. Why is Blakely surprised when Greenwald says he’d call Queeg for the defense?
9. What did Greenwald mean when he said, “You don’t understand, do you? Not about Keefer. Not even about yourself?”
10. Why was Urban an unsuitable witness?
11. What did Greenwald mean when he said to Maryk, “Implicating Keefer harms you”?
12. Did Keith’s testimony help or hurt Maryk? Tell why or why not.
13. Why is Lundeen’s testimony important?
14. Lundeen said that Queeg “revises reality in his own mind so that he comes out blameless.” What evidence can you find to support the truth of that statement?
15. Why does Greenwald keep emphasizing the word paranoid?
16. How did the way Greenwald questioned Bird affect Bird’s testimony?
17. Was the outcome in scene 1 in Maryk’s favor? If so, when did it begin to change?
Act II
1. Why does Greenwald want to know if the Caine was in the last extremity when Maryk relieved the captain?
2. Why did Maryk keep a record of Queeg’s mental health?
3. Is there a change in Blakely’s attitude? What brought that change about?
4. Explain the “strawberry” incident.
5. What holes in Maryk’s story does Challee uncover?
6. Why was Maryk stunned when his testimony was over?
7. Why did his testimony and Queeg’s differ?
8. When did Queeg’s testimony begin to show that he was not completely truthful?
9. Why did Greenwald threaten to subpoena Langhorne?
10. Challee says that Greenwald is turning the trial into a courtmartial of Queeg. Do you agree with Challee? Explain.
11. When does Queeg begin to crack on the stand? How do you know?
12. How does his long speech affect his audience?
13. Why is Challee angry with Maryk?
14. Why did Greenwald defend Maryk?
15. What did Queeg’s responses during testimony suggest about his reactions during the storm?
Act II, Scene 2
1. What reasons did Greenwald give for bending the law? Do you think he was right or wrong? Explain.
2. Why does Greenwald make a hero of Queeg?
3. Why does Greenwald say that Keefer is really the guilty person? Why doesn’t Greenwald like Keefer?
4. Why does Greenwald get drunk?
5. Explain Greenwald’s attitude when he says to Maryk, “See you in Tokyo, you mutineer.”
The Play as a Whole
1. The theme is the message of a story. What do you think the theme of this play is? Give reasons.
2. What is the importance of Greenwald’s mother to the play?
3. What is the climax of this story? Explain.
4. What are Greenwald’s feelings about the Navy?
5. Who do you think was the most admirable character in the play? The least? Give reasons for your answers.
6. Part of this play lies in determining what is the truth. How did the testimony of each character aid in determining what really happened?
7. Do you think Maryk should have been found innocent or guilty? Why?
8. Did Queeg receive a just verdict? Explain.
9. What were Greenwald’s motives for defending Maryk? Explain.
10. The way in which the play is told served to make it more interesting. What did you like about the play? Explain.
1. Construct a diorama of the set.
2. Analyze the following characters. What made them tick?
a. Lt. Barney Greenwald
b. Lt. Commander Philip Francis Queeg
c. Lt. Thomas Keefer
d. Lt. Commander John Challee
3. Read the novel, The Caine Mutiny. Write a paper comparing the book with the play.
4. Read about World War II. Gather pictures and keymaps. Form a committee and present your finds to the class. Afterward form a panel discussion.
5. Find someone who participated in WWII. Interview them and take their stories. Gather pictures if possible. Tell their story to the class or bring the person to class and present the story.
6. What effects can absolute power of a captain have on a crew? Research and write a paper of actual incidents which featured in some way the total power of a commander at sea.
7. Research World War II ships. Draw or build models of three ships and explain how each ship functioned.
8. Explore the nature of justice. Is justice always served by following the letter of the law? Write an essay in which you present your point of view and support your ideas with examples.


Narrative: Dove, by Robin Lee Graham
At sixteen years of age and already an experienced seaman, Robin Lee Graham yearns to see the world. He wants to run away from school, regimented civilization, and the crowded, polluted cities in which he has lived. He wants to do something different, special, and totally his own.

Robin’s father, fearing dread consequences of his son’s restlessness, buys and outfits Dove, a 24 foot fiberglass sloop. And on July 27, 1965, Robin begins his trip, alone, around the world.

In his book, also called Dove, Robin recounts his adventures. As he sails from island to island, Robin tells of the wonderful people he meets and their customs. He describes his battles against stormy seas and his struggles with loneliness during calms. During this five year voyage, Robin also meets his future bride, but most importantly he tells how he grows as a person.

This book is more modern than some of the around-the-world-alone adventures and should be easy to read because it is told in a straightforward manner. It is a book with which most teens can identify because Robin is a very ordinary boy who has the same feelings about school, adults, love, and the world that most students have.

Questions: Chapters 1-4

1. Why does Robin Lee Graham want to go to sea?
2. Describe his attempt to go to sea in the HIC. Why do you think they survived?
3. What effect did the HIC have on Robin’s father?
4. On the first leg of Robin’s voyage he says, “The voyage to Hawaii was almost too easy.” What does he mean? Do you agree?
5. Robin’s uncle gave him two kittens whom Robin names Joliette and Suzette. Throughout the voyage Robin carried pet cats. Why?
6. How did Robin cope with the loneliness he often felt?
7. When Dove first loses its mast Robin says that “What separates the men from the boys is the emergency moment that might never happen again.” What does he mean?
8. After Pago Pago, Robin lands in the VaVau group of islands which he describes as the friendliest. Why does he feel that way?
9. In Fiji Robin has difficulties for the first time. Why? How does he solve his problem?
10. Would Robin agree with the following statement: “All South Sea islanders are the same”? What would he probably reply?
11. How does Robin meet Patti Ratterree? How does he help her?
12. In the Yasawas Robin and Patti become lovers. What characteristics of Patti did Robin admire? How did the atmosphere of the islands contribute to their happiness?
Chapters 5-8
1. What part does National Geographic play in Robin’s trip?
2. How do Solomon Islanders feel about Americans? Why?
3. On his way to Darwin Island, Robin experiences a storm and also several days of becalmed seas. How did he respond to each situation? Which was easier? Why?
4. a. How do Robin’s relatives respond to the news about Patti?
b. What does Robin decide to do as a result?
5. On the way to Mauritius, Dove lost its mast a second time. How did Robin handle this situation? In what way was he careless?
6. On the way to Durban, Dove almost foundered in a storm. How did Robin react? What was he thinking? What did he do?
7. What were some of the difficulties Robin and Patti experienced when they wished to marry? Why do you think Robin’s parents changed their minds?
8. Why was crossing the Atlantic difficult for Robin?
Chapters 9-13
1. Why does Robin decide to sell Dove and get a new boat? What does he name the new boat?
2. How does Robin react to the news that he’s about to be a father? Why?
3. Robin says the hardest leg of his journey was the 2600 miles from Galapagos to Long Beach, California. What made this leg of the journey difficult?
4. How did Robin feel on his way into Long Beach Marina?
5. What is his response to the attention he received from the media?
6. How have the Grahams decided to live now that the trip is over and the baby born? What are their reasons?
The Book as a Whole
1. Why did Robin make the voyage?
2. How did the loneliness affect him?
3. What were the most difficult parts of the journey? How did he react to these challenges. What kept him going? Why did he survive?
4. What were his feelings about the sea? Did they change? How? Why?
5. Did Robin grow as a person through this experience? Why?
1. Design a model of Dove I or Dove II. Label the important parts of the ship.
2. Select one of the countries Robin visited. Go to the library and find out as much as you can about the country.
3. Have you visited any of the places where Robin stopped? Tell about your experiences in that country. If you have slides or pictures, include them as part of your report. You can design a slide-tape show if you wish by recording your feelings about each slide or picture.
4. One of the places Robin visited was the Galapagos Islands. Much study and research have been devoted to the wildlife there. Read about it and make a report.
5. Plot Robin’s course on a large map or design the map yourself, plotting his course.
6. Read about other people who have circled the world alone. Compare their voyages with Robin’s. Write about the things that were the same and those which were different.
7. If you were to circle the world, not necessarily alone or by sailboat, where would you stop and why?
8. Loneliness seemed to be a real problem to Robin. There have been cases of people who went mad alone on the seas. Do you think you could circle the world? What would you do to combat the loneliness?

1. sloop 2. slip
3. mainsail 4. mast
5. jib 6. jibing
7. harbor 8. keel
9. boom 10. rigging
11. ketch 12. buoy
13. tiller 14. spray
15. genoa 16. comber
17. chronometer 18. barometer
19. compass 20. sextant
21. longitude 22. latitude
23. doldrums 24. draw (as in “she drew 4 feet”)
25. cockpit 26. gunwale
27. step (as in “to step the mast”)

1. The teacher can divide the class in half, giving each half 15 words to look up, writing down the definition and a sentence for each. When the sentences are finished, the teacher selects a word and each student writes his sentence for that word on a transparency. The following day, the class examines all the sentences for a given word and decides which are good sentences. Students then select good sentences to put in their logs for vocabulary study.
2. A student makes a line drawing of a ketch or a sloop. Students then label parts of the diagram using words from the vocabulary.
Matching Exercise: Match the letters on the right side with the correct words on the left.

1. sloop a. instrument used to measure altitudes of celestial bodies
2. ketch b. backbone of a boat to which frames are attached
3. chronometer c. ship of two masts with the mast closest to the bow taller than the main mast
4. comber d. single-masted fore and aft rigged sailboat
5. spray e. instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure
6. keel f. float moored in water as a marker
7. jib g. mass of dispersed droplets from a wave
8. sextant h. triangular sail stretching from the fore mast to the bowsprit
9. buoy i. a long cresting wave of the sea
10. barometer j. extremely precise timepiece
It should be noted that there are several other books about people who have sailed alone. I have found all of these stories interesting as the people involved are rather eccentric individuals:

1. Sailing Alone Around the World, by Captain Joshua Slocum
2. Gipsy Moth Circles the World, by Sir Francis Chichester
3. Tinkerbelle, by Robert Mandry


1U.S. Department of the Interior, River of Life, 7.

2Wesley Marx, The Protected Ocean, 8.

3Alan Villiers, Men, Ships, and the Sea, 140.

Annotated Bibliography

Armstrong, James. Voyages of Discovery. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1972. Selections from Kodoku, by Kenichi Horie and other sea lore can be found in the anthology.

Bass, George F., ed. A History of Seafaring. New York: Walker and Company, 1972. This is a wonderful book about the history of seacraft. This book contains many photographs and illustrations.

Carson, Rachel. The Sea Around Us. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961. Explains poetically and dramatically the dangers to our seas.

Chichester, Francis. Gipsy Moth Circles the World. New York: Coward-McCann, 1968. Chichester sailed around the world and became a hero. This is a most detailed account of his preparations and travels. The book is long, but not difficult to read.

Commission of Marine Science, Engineering, and Resources. Our Nation and the Sea. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1969. This book presents clear explanations of the importance of the oceans as a resource.

Dugan, James. World Beneath the Sea. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1967. This publication contains many colorful photographs and clear explanations of the oceans and their resources.

Freuchen, Peter. Book of the Seven Seas. New York: Julian Messner, 1957. Another delightful book which includes much about the sea: history, sea tales, lone voyages, and philosophy. This is a wonderful book for everyone.

Gallico, Paul. Three Legends. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1966. The Snow Goose can be found in this volume.

Graham, Robin. The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone. New York: Golden Press, 1973. This book recounts the Dove adventure in easier language with a larger format and many more pictures including those of Robin’s logbook. This is a wonderful book for students to browse through.

———. Dove. New York: Bantam Books, 1973

Headrick, Daniel. The Tools of Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981. Are boats tools of empire? You bet! This is a good reference for teachers.

Heyerdahl, Thor. Early Man and the Ocean. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1979. This volume explores the beginnings of navigation. It is highly informative for good readers.

———. Kon-Tiki. New York: Pocket Books, 1956. This tells the story of Heyerdahl’s ocean-going expedition on a raft. Delightful to read and a must for anyone interested in the origins of seacraft.

Lansing, Alfred. Shackleton’s Valiant Voyage. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1960. Easy reading version of Endurance, by the same author. Tells the exciting story of Shackletons’s Antarctic expedition whose boat foundered on the ice. They survived to tell the story. Good reading for students interested in survival adventures.

Mandry, Robert. Tinkerbelle. New York: Harper and Row, 1966.

Marx, Wesley. The Protected Ocean. New York: Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, 1972. This is easy to read. The book clearly explains the importance of protecting the seas from destruction.

McFarland, Philip, ed. Viewpoints. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981. The story, “Sea Devil,” and the poems, “Carmel Point” and “First Lesson,” may be located in this anthology.

Redman, Crosby E., ed. Designs in Drama. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1974. “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,” by Herman Wouk, can be found in this anthology.

U.S. Department of the Interior. River of Life. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970. Booklet contains a clear explanation of the world’s water supply.

Severin, Tim. The Brendan Voyage. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1978. Tim Severin and his crew set out across the North Atlantic in a leather boat and made it. Students who liked Kon-Tiki will enjoy this book, although it is a bit harder to read.

Slocum, Joshua, Captain. Sailing Alone Around the World. New York: Dover, 1956.

Trumbull, Robert. The Raft. New York: Holt and Company, 1942. Easy to read true story of three Navy fliers downed in the Pacific who survived.

Victor, Paul Emile. Man and the Conquest of the Poles. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963. The search for the Northeast and Northwest passages is explained in this book. Well written, but for history buffs only.

Villers, Alan. Men, Ships, and the Sea. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1962. Beautiful illustrations and photographs adorn this history of seacraft.

Weiss, Harvey. Sailing Small Boats. New York: Young Scott Books, 1967. This is a wonderful, easy to read book which explains how sailboats work. It even explains how to make your own model of the Kon-Tiki raft.

Wibberley, Leonard. Toward a Distant Island. New York: Ives, Washburn, 1966. Delightfully amusing account of Wibberley’s travels around the Pacific. Unlike Kon-Tiki, fish did not jump aboard his boat!

Wouk, Herman. The Caine Mutiny. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1951. ———. The Caine Mutiny Court-Mart. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1954.