Schooner on educational expedition

Published 12:48 am Thursday, June 23, 2011

The schooner Jeanie B. made an overnight stay in Washington, arriving Wednesday and leaving today for Ocracoke, as part of a two-prong excursion.

The schooner’s crew, at least for this trip, is mostly young women, about 15 of them. Once the schooner docked, they headed for downtown Washington in search of lunch.

Captain Lee Sutton and Mate Andrew Johnson (left) help the first of their many visitors board the Jeanie B., a 72-foot schooner that made a stop on Washington’s waterfront on Wednesday. The boat hosts a two-week trip for eight high school aged boys and girls through Camp Seagull and Camp Seafarer’s programs. (WDN Photo/Sara Cowell)

“The Jeanie B. in the summertime works with Camp Sea Gull (girls) and Camp Seafarer (boys). We take two-week trips. So, the girls will do two weeks, and we’ll have another two weeks of boys and other two weeks of another boys’ trip,” said Lee Sutton, owner of the 72-foot-long, gaffed-rigged schooner, minutes after it docked at Washington’s waterfront. “They come to (sailing) camp, which is on the Neuse River. They check in Sunday, kind of orient themselves to the boat, and then we have destinations for two weeks that we choose.”

The trip to Washington didn’t just come about.

“This particular trip, because the wind is so forecasted during the summer at southwest, I thought it would be nice to come to a town.

Sometimes we’ve gone to Belhaven, but Washington, of course, as I think we all know, is a better waterfront town than Belhaven,” Sutton said. “So, we decided to come here, essentially with a straight shot to Ocracoke with a southwest breeze. So, that’s one of the main reasons we came to Washington, so we could utilize that southwest breeze as we head to Ocracoke. … The whole basis for the trip is an adventure experience for the girls and boys. … They’ll sleep on the boat. They’ll cook on the boat. They’ll navigate. They’ll check the oil. They’ll clean the bilges and stuff like that. It’s a working ship.”

Sutton found a way to work the summer solstice, which occurred Tuesday, into the excursion.

“I thought since were are so close to the solstice I’d do a celestial navigation and archaeoastronomy on the boat,” Sutton said.

Sutton, a biology professor at East Carolina University, was scheduled to present a program, Biography of Man Through the Stars, at the N.C. Estuarium on Wednesday night. He was to discuss “the Biography of Man through the stars, and trace the journey of how man has utilized the heavens beyond simple gazing to form ideas of farming, calendar, mathematics, buildings, navigation and construction,” according to the Partnership for the Sounds’ website. Partnership for the Sounds operates the Estuarium.

Lynn Lewis, the city’s tourism-development director was among several city officials and others who met the Jeanie B., named after Sutton’s wife (the “B” is the first letter in his wife’s maiden name). The Suttons met at camp. Lewis told Sutton the city’s Visitor Center had received several inquiries from people interested in attending the Wednesday night program.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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