Back to school blog-Young Adventurer Olivia Hickey

Sixteen year old Olivia Hickey joined us at the beginning of September for our Young Adventurer’s Program.  A true adventurer at heart, Olivia  valiantly took two days off of school to sail with us from Cleveland, Ohio to Toronto, Ontario. 

We were all absolutely in awe of Olivia-smart, easy going, and a great conversationalist. Olivia soaked up new information like a sponge throughout her time on board. She was truly refreshing, and just what the permanent crew needed after a long and exhausting summer on the Lakes.

In between all of her hard work at her French Canadian school in Windsor Ontario, Olivia took the time to write this beautiful blog post. We hope you enjoy her incredible writing.

Olivia, we hope that this experience helps you to find what you truly want to do with your adult life, and that your writing and art are a big part of it!


Candace Bellevance, Madeline Hare and Olivia Hickey prepare for their first trawl with Captain Eric!

Blog of a Young Adventurer- By Olivia Hickey

When was the last time that you’ve been able to cast away all your stress, responsibility, everything that ties you to the material world?


This September I was able to experience a great freedom as I sailed on board the Sea Dragon, part of a crew of eight. I warn you, I have never written a blog post before, hence I have no idea of what I am doing. But I’ve fallen in love with adventures by now, so let’s proceed.

My experience with sailboats is pretty decent for a girl my age, I think. I’ve taken sailing lessons at a marina not too far from my house, the same marina in which we keep our family sailboat. I’ve sailed across Lake Erie to Cedar Point, and up north, but I had never embarked on a nautical expedition without a family member.

Truthfully, I did not anticipate loving it as much as I did. I stumbled upon the Sea Dragon and her crew at a harbor in Nova Scotia, where I had vacationed earlier in the summer. My father and I were invited on board, and were quickly introduced to Asta, who fielded my questions expertly and informed us of the trips they took. Right away, I was excited about the prospect of being alone on a strange turf; it was a bonus that it was one that I loved. (I have always loved the water.)

My father, the sailor in our family, was equally enthused. On the first week of September, my dad drove me to Cleveland, Ohio, from Windsor, Canada. That night I was initiated as a crew member when I did my first trawl.

“Trawling” – a highly scientific term- is done with a manta trawl that sits upon the water and lets a net unfurl behind it, filtering the water but catching any pieces of plastic, critters, and seaweed. These findings where then examined by the crew and shipped to various professors.

Olivia and Deckhand Mitch Mclean work up their first manta trawl sample on deck.
Olivia and Deckhand Mitch Mclean work up their first manta trawl sample on deck.

Another scientific process we did was to take samples of water from specific locations. I can definitely say that they sure beat high school labs! It was very intriguing to experience surface pollution up close. I mean, sometimes we throw ourselves into saving the environment, but the sudden burst of energy only lasts for a short while. Yet how can we not be conscious of the continual damage we inflict upon our home? Our sustenance? Ourselves?

My science teacher once told me that people don’t really want to save the world; they want to save the human race. The world has been here for quite some time, it has survived meteors and ice ages and global warming. But by polluting the water, we poison ourselves, and every living organism. It’s hard not to think about, but it’s even harder to think about.

We sailed through the second night, and I was on night watch from 3am to 6am with Asta and Shanlee. It was a beautiful experience, being awake at an hour where everyone was sleeping, guided by the stars and the lights of the city. Everything seemed so peaceful out on the water, like nothing that happened in the world had any effect on the crew. (Maybe I only think that because it was very smooth sailing for the entire journey.)

The Young Adventurer's Fall crew takes in the sights of Niagara Falls!
The Young Adventurer’s Fall crew takes in the sights of Niagara Falls!

I once watched a documentary where one entire day is filmed, with quick clips from activity in all parts of the world. In the early moments of the film, a woman in Africa was awake at 4am. She stated that she got up at this hour because “the veil between this world and the next is thinnest.” On the night watch, I could almost believe all the Greek myths about how the constellations had once walked the earth, that treacherous monsters lurked deep beneath us, or that the rattling wind was the voice of ghosts.

Olivia tries out Andrew's guitar on deck during one of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable!
Olivia tries out Andrew’s guitar on deck during one of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable!

The days of the trip all seem to blur together, but a few distinct moments leap out at me; Andrew playing the burrito song (a rudimentary cluster of Spanish words yelled out in enthusiasm) while the sun set; taking the boat through the locks as we passed from Erie to Ontario; standing on board of the Maid of the Mist, absolutely soaked; shopping in the touristy area of Niagara falls; eating spicy balls below deck for dinner and the final sail into Toronto.

Sunrise on Lake Erie

The Sea Dragon could not have had a better crew, and I felt certain camaraderie among them. All of them had pursued what they loved, be it sailing or science or music or teaching or adventuring, and what’s more, they made a living from it. Because I am being pressured to make so many crucial decisions at this time (university, field of work, ect.) I will never forget those incredible days aboard the Sea Dragon, nor all I learnt from her crew. I would definitely embark upon another adventure soon, but I guess I already have.

From left to right: Andrew Murgatroyd, Asta Mail, Olivia Hickey, Eric Loss, Shanley McEntee, Candace Bellevance, Madeline Hare and Mitch McLean. What a crew!

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