Rotary Log for September 8, 2021
 
 
With the languorous, sultry days of summer waning, one last wisp of the joys of summer was made manifest by today’s speaker.  But first, the de rigueur preliminaries.  Our stalwart President Finn presiding and leading.  With the Zoom feed at the ready, our meeting began.
 
 
We pledged allegiance to our flag and Barry McCardle led us in the 4-Way Test. 
 
 
Al Lantinen provided a solid bass for our song, America the Beautiful. 
 
 
Rice gave the invocation.  We next took note of and remembered the 9/11 anniversary.
 
 
Flagg graciously joined remotely so as not to suck up all the air.  More on that later.  Our lunch interlude had everything but elevator music playing in the background.
 
Up next, visiting guests were introduced.  Eric brought former Rotarian and father of our guest speaker, Doug Greene.  Ben introduced former Rotarian Rick Wallace and another guest turned member to be mentioned herein.  Stanford presented his guest, Mark Perkins, a potential future member.
 
For announcements, Neal Ouellett filled in for Marie and reminded us about the Rotary golf tournament to be held October 8.  Golfers, sponsors and prizes are needed.  Neal has asked us to do everything we can to help.
 
A further announcement was made regarding a memorial hike and flag placement to honor 9/11.  All 48 4,000 ft.+ New Hampshire Mountain peaks will be summited, and flags raised atop each the weekend of 9/11.  Multiple TV stations have done pieces on the program.  Everyone is welcome to join.
 
Flagg, a.k.a., Triple P (Past Pandemic President) reminded us about the upcoming airshow at Pease this weekend.  Volunteers are needed for both days.  Free parking, beer and entry are the enticements advanced by Flagg. 
 
 
Uncertainty about some esoteric event detail, led to Flagg receiving multiple calls from the Wheeler table, a.k.a., the BBTBC (Bad Boy Table Before Covid).  Flagg demanded $10 fines for all participants.  Phone records are being collected.  Finn demurred.
 
As a further bonus, Flagg offered up for auction four VIP tickets to the airshow.  He started the bidding at $25 per ticket.  Finn ran the auction and Priscilla won with a bid of $50 per ticket.  Enjoy, Priscilla and thanks!
 
 
Up next, a time-honored tradition of welcoming new members, three to be exact.  James Petersen sponsored Kierstan Field, a new engineer employee in his office.  Kierstan is a South Portland native, the eldest of four half siblings, and a new aunt.  She wishes to have a dog, but currently suffices with plants.  She surfs, hikes and has expressed a keen interest in some of our committees such as the scholarship committee.  Welcome Kierstan!
 
 
Kaitlin Burke introduced Peter Muccia, owner of Paul Mitchell the School in downtown Portsmouth.  A New Jersey native, hair care runs in his family as his mother is a longtime member of the profession. Along with his cat, Oliver, Peter has taken up residence in Portsmouth.  Active in charities, he has raised $10,000 for Cross Roads House and looks forward to being an active member of our club.
 
 
Last, but not least, Ben presented Joan Gile, the current and first female president of Piscataqua Savings Bank here in Portsmouth.  Mother of three, grandmother of five, Joan has spent the last 35 years in the banking industry despite her teaching degree from Skidmore College.  In her words, managing a bank is like managing a bunch of seven-year-olds so she decided to stay in the business.  Welcome Joan!
 
Moving right along, Priscilla introduced our speakers, Phil von Hemert, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Sail Portsmouth (formerly the Piscataqua Maritime Commission), and Gretchen Greene.  Gretchen is a former participant of Sea Challenge, one of the organization’s signature programs.  Our Cash Committee recently made a $7,000 donation to Sail Portsmouth.
 
 
Phil spoke about the organization’s history and how its initial vision, to bring tall ships to Portsmouth, evolved into Sea Challenge.  Sea Challenge offers teenagers in the seacoast region an opportunity to participate in an experiential education program on a tall ship.  The course uses scholarships to ease the financial costs. 
 
 
Eligible teenagers embark on a one-week course on board a tall ship. There they learn all the skillsets needed to operate a sailing ship.  In the process, students learn responsibility, accountability, and seamanship.  They also practice their socialization skills in a very close-quarter environment.  The program, which started in 1997, was waylaid by the Covid pandemic in 2020. 
 
The ship used for these excursions is the 170-feet-long Roseway.  Despite the daily care given to the ship, it is due for a $9 million retrofit so the $7,000 donation is much appreciated. 
 
 
To give us a sense of what it is like to work on the Roseway, Gretchen spoke to the many facets of the voyage.  A Joseph J. Shanley Scholarship recipient, Gretchen finished her high-school career in a remote setting due to Covid.  Now a freshman at Endicott College, she decided to pursue the Sea Challenge program, if not for any other reason, to counter the depressing isolation of on-line learning.
 
The skills taught aboard are legion: knot forming, sail raising and lowering, navigation, cleaning everything in sight including the galley, head, saloon, just to name a few.  Each student is assigned watch duty that includes tasks such as checking the engine room, the anchor, the navigation system, the water level, etc.  Challenges included sea sickness, (enter Bonine,) little personal space, lack of showering facilities, no chance to get off the ship for a week, and no phones. Need I say more?   
 
 
With what little downtime they had, especially when in port, such as Portland harbor, students adapted. They played games, learned about the constellations, strummed guitars, sang shanties and swam with the whales.  Through all this learning, what Gretchen came to realize is that she was becoming more self-assured and self-confident.  It has given her a deeper appreciation for adventure.  She thanks all the supporters that made her time on the ship possible.
 
 
Turning to questions, how far out do they go?  Typically, about 20 miles, but as much as 60 miles away from shore.  The entire trip is about 400 miles.
 
How do they deal with the weather?  She wasn’t sure as they had clear sailing except for one day.  Phil indicated the ship alters course if needed for safety reasons.
 
We’ll skip James’ question requesting the specifics of soaping up and shampooing.
 
Who goes up to the top of the mast?  Everyone.
 
How well do you sleep?  Very well, exhausted after a long day of tasks.
 
How big are the sleeping quarters?  Not very.
 
How are watches handled?  In groups, with different stations and times.
 
All in all, an interesting and fun presentation. Nice job, Gretchen!
 
 
For the last order of business, the 50/50 raffle was decided.  Wheeler won, lost the match and promptly donated the win back to the pot.  Well done, Ben!
 
And with that, Finn rang the bell and we parted ways to enjoy the last days of summer.
Until next time . . ..
 
Respectfully submitted, Mark Lorusso
 
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