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Housekeeping, Harbor Style

By admin
November 18, 2015

“You guys know Man Overboard drills.  So what do you do if you see a man overboard?”

Jessie's Safety Talk

The Safety Talk

Jessie Floyd is giving the safety talk for the day’s excursion on Indy 7, one of Harbor’s hardest-working workboats, a 40′ retired Navy launch.  Jessie’s confident, assured, and those she’s speaking to–students and adults alike– are listening attentively. They’re not going far– from Pier 101 just a couple of hundred yards down the shore of Governors Island to the site of BOP’s experimental reef.  But it’s arguable that the time, expertise, commitment, and resources that have gone in to making this trip possible exceed the effort required by one of the voyages of the Age of Exploration. This is no exaggeration.  The fact that such trips are,  if not an everyday occurrence for Harbor School students, then at least a fairly regular one, has been the work of more than ten years.  And this particular trip could not have happened without weeks of planning, and, in the case of the seniors, years of training. And training is varied: that morning, the Pro Diving students had been briefed on the various types of fish they might expect to see on their dive: identification of marine species is more properly the purview of Aquaculture or Marine Biology CTE students, but many skills are useful across different specialties.

Will, Joe, & Lenny

Will, Joe, & Lenny

Their mission is, as Lenny Speregan, Pro Diving CTE program head, describes it, “housekeeping.  The divers are going to check out the monitoring equipment we got down there, make sure everything is functioning, and just do some maintenance.  So we’ve got a video camera under a glass dome, for example– the kids are gonna just clean that off, like you’d clean a window, to make sure there’s good visibility.  We’ve gotta do that regularly.”

Lenny.  That's all.

Lenny. That’s all.

Jessie, Indy’s safety supervisor for the duration of the trip, is a senior, a Vessel Operations student who is planning to get her captain’s license and hoping to attend Maine Maritime Academy next year, and whose experience ensuring the safety of passengers and crew on trips like this will be invaluable in her future maritime career.  She finishes her safety talk, and passes the attention of those on the boat off to Rashawn Henry.

Rashawn & Jessie: Dive Supervisor & Vessel Safety  Supervisor

Rashawn & Jessie: Dive Supervisor & Vessel Safety Supervisor

“I’m the dive supervisor today,” he explains.  “That means, you have any questions, you ask me.  What I want to do right now is go over our emergency action plan.  There will be two divers going down today, and two safety divers suited up aboard the dive boat.  If you’re ever not sure what you can do to be helpful, go keep the safety divers’ spirits up– we need them in tip-top shape, ready to go in case anything happens.  Brianna’s the communications specialist– you need to get any information to the divers, she’s the one who you’ll go to…”

Rashawn 3

Rashawn Henry, Dive Supervisor

He continues, outlining contingency plans, making it clear who’s responsible for what aspects of the day’s tasks. There’s a lot to get done.  But every person aboard has a role– from the youngest student listening carefully leaning against a bulkhead, to Lenny, the veteran diver, to Syed, who graduated last year.  Syed is now an assistant teacher aiming, through the Department of Education’s Success Via Apprenticeship program, to eventually become a maritime CTE teacher in the New York public school system himself.

Katie & Syed 2

Staff Members Katie Mosher-Smith & Syed Hoque

Students aboard represent three of the school’s six CTE programs– in addition to the crew from Vessel Ops and the team from Professional Diving, Gregory and Ariel are there from Aquaculture to monitor the oysters themselves– the bivalves which form the reef.  As Indy is docking, students from yet another CTE– Ocean Engineering– will be meeting her, to discuss an electrical issue that had come up.

Gregory, Luis, Jessie

Gregory & Captain Luis, with Jessie at the helm

Pre-departure checks done, Captain Luis Melendez, also a Harbor School graduate, calls for the vessel ops crew to cast off lines.  Everyone’s grinning, there’s an air of suppressed excitement throughout the whole boat.  Attended by Syed in the little safety boat, with Jessie at the helm, Indy makes her way off the dock and heads out on her mission.  It’s around 1:30 on a chilly November afternoon, and they’ll be back by 4– hardly an epic voyage. The epic voyage, for students like Rashawn and Jessie, is the life for which that this kind of experience is preparing them.

Bon voyage

Bon voyage


Jessie F and Harbor School graduate Captain Luis Melendez



Devon, Professional diving


Jaxon, Professional diving


Ava (Professional diving, safety diver) & Brianna (Professional diving, communications)

Ava (Professional diving, safety diver) & Brianna (Professional diving, communications)

Edgar, Brianna, Ariel, Gregory

Edwin (Vessel Ops, deckhand); Brianna (Pro diving, comms); Ariel & Gregory (Aquaculture, oyster monitors.)