In 1988 I was an undergraduate Marine Biology student aboard the Spirit of Massachusetts, a 125-foot gaff-rigged schooner, on a Semester at Sea program. One night off the coast of North Carolina we encountered a powerful nor’easter. While most of the crew was charged with shortening sail and battening down the hatches, I was assigned to the helm. The night was extremely dark, moonless and cloudless, illuminated only by starlight. The wooden vessel seemed to come alive in the storm, cutting through the froth and waves, with me at the wheel straining to hold our course – it was hard to differentiate between sea and sky – it felt as if the stars were all around us, as if we were flying through space. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.
- Alyce Santoro, 2014