Christian's Journal

one cool kid's very ex"site"ing blog

Bermuda Day 5 – Regatta Results

I just had the last day of a really hard regatta with over 60 boats on the starting line. I did moderately well with 33 over 62 boats. I felt really bad about this, but my coach said,”You have bigger things to do well in, like team trials – this is just more training.” That made me feel better and made me do well today with all top 25’s. I think I could have done better that.

On the 2nd day (first day was canceled because of hurricane) the wind had died down to ten knots, so me being a light sailor that should have been paradise. In that wind I should have rocked, but the start became a battle field- from the black flag (dsq) to evil people taking my air, leaving me to wither and die. Luckily I got out of that and even on my worst starts I did okay.

Then we came back into the harbor battered and hungry, awards were going to be at 5:00. I de-rigged my boat super fast so I could get to those nice warm clothes. “Ah it feels so good to dry again”, I said while I was putting on a super big shirt. After that I went to see how many places I had advanced. One place, that’s is how much I moved up from misery, one place behind the person I wanted to beat most. I could have screamed at my score pleading it to change to what I thought I did. Awards, sitting next to some Canadian friends, were hard to bear, and I didn’t get anything which really sucked. I watched all these happy faces as they went up there to collect trophies, then I thought of my friend who had missed being the Bermuda National Champion by 3 points, that must’ve really sucked.

Not the best regatta I’ve had, but I will do better next time.

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Bermuda Day 4 – Maritime History

Today I visited the Bermuda Maritime Museum. It is one of the oldest structures on the island. It has been in use up to the end of WWII, then it became a museum. When you first walk in you will see a courtyard with a replica of the head of the ship that discovered Bermuda, it is a statue of Neptune. The shipwreck is on the Bermudan flag.

Then we walked up to the sheep gardens and there were sheep up there and tons of stuff they left behind. I never got to pet them I would have liked to. Then we went to visit a 100 year old yacht named Dainty. It won the Bermuda cup but then was sunk in Hurricane Emily. The owners couldn’t pay to fix it so they donated it to the museum and the museum fixed but put on display and didn’t sail it ever again. I think they should take it out and restore its pride.

Next we went to part of the jail. There were a couple cells in there but the most odd thing was that there was a narrow hall way, so narrow I could barely get through, that didn’t lead any where. I guess that it was to safely look in at what prisoners were doing.

Then we went to look at the ominous cannons that stood perched on a wall ready fire at anything. Those cannons must have shot the death ball because it must have shot a ball twice the size of my head at 100 mph at a wooden ship, don’t you think that would have killed it?

Next we went into where all the meetings were held by the Navy. On the first floor there were artifacts from WWII, machine guns, cannons, medals, and much more. On the second floor there were things about slaves and my favorite room about the Bermuda race. That room is where they had things from the race, trophies, badges, and pictures. Pictures of the first boat finishing, some of the ones that didn’t make it, some that told the history of the race.

On the next floor there were all the meeting rooms with china cabinets in them (some of that china I found on the beach). I was amazed at how long the tables were, I wonder if my Grandfather sat at one of those chairs. There was a room that I discovered, a room filled with rare Navy books – that was my 2nd favorite room in that building. I wonder who had used those books before.

We again sped off into the wilderness of Bermuda (like there is one :))

Bermuda Storm Day 3

As always, to make a trip to an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean you have to have a Hurricane to complete the trip. My team and I were supposed to sail in the storm today but things got messy. But we did however have to take our boats out of the shipping container they were in. My mom suffered badly from this.

That same container as we were taking boats out a surprise shift of 60 mph caught the door my mom was holding and smacked her straight into the curb. 20 minutes later the ambulance came and took my mom away to a hospital  that gave her 5 stitches. She was basically unable to move around after that. Not fun on a vacation huh?

Later we had dinner with the family that had taken care of my mother before she was went to the doctors. Sailing was canceled that day.

The next night: My mother and I had random power outages every 20 minutes the longest lasting hours, the house would be shining and then “zzzt” and the power was out again. This kept happening over and again and I started to feel like the ghosts were trying to get in. I clung to my mom and we went back in time to when they had no electricity and we carried candles everywhere. We enjoyed a movie because there was no light to read with and the computer had a full battery charge. I bet they, the Bermudians,  are used to it.

Bermuda Day 2 – Visit to Hamilton

Today we visited Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda. Buzzing away on our scooter past houses an beaches I finally set eyes on Hamilton. It is a beautiful town, tall buildings on one side of the road and beaches with yacht clubs on the other. One of the yacht clubs my friend sails out of.

We parked our scooter in a “designated scooter zone” and left it there with our helmets. We first went into a a small bookstore called Bermuda Books. It had all my favorite series  and new books that haven’t come out yet in the U.S.A. and more types like guide books, atlases, and others that I did not checkout.

Then we went into the Irish linen shop which my mom went to when she was here almost 30 years ago. It had little house decorations and paper weights all around the shop. Upstairs there was kids section but all the stuff was for kids younger than me. I wonder what this place was like when my grandparents lived here.

Next we went to the English Sports Shop to look for some Bermuda shorts. They didn’t have the shorts, but they did have the traditional long socks men wear, I got a pair just for the fun of it. The only things they had for kids were school uniforms, that’s what kids wear most of the time. They had hats and sweaters and other things downstairs. That’s what I got my mom and uncle. I wonder if it was here back then.

We went to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club where the Queen comes to visit. It’s true one of my friends’ dad met the Queen and was Commodore of the yacht club. It’s the best yacht club that I have ever been to. It had a Prince Albert room to the left of the walkway where all the famous Bermudan trophies are held. That room was my favorite in the entire yacht club. It had the bar and docks spanned out on the other side of the yacht club. My coach used to work there. I want to win one of those trophies one day.

Then we picked up our scooter and went on to view the place/island my grand parents used to live on. I love Hamilton.

Arriving in Bermuda

“Ding , you are free to get up”, the stewardess said on the intercom. I didn’t even notice that she was speaking because I was so absorbed in the view outside my window. Turquoise water on one side Buildings with white stone roofs, and houses of all sorts of bright colors. The roofs here are white stone because they need to withstand hurricanes and storms, white so that the sun doesn’t hurt it.

Things were moving and I had to detach myself from one of the best views I have ever seen.”Bye thank you for flying with us”, the stewardess said right before I stepped out into the brilliant sunshine ( it was a clear day ). This airport even though it is international was really small. Instead of having a “walkway” come out to the plane door we had go down a staircase then walk on the tarmac into the airport, which is totally awesome.

Customs took a million years to get through. There were two people working for some 500 people who had all come in at the same time, our plane at the end. There were people of all sorts there; sailors, business men, Bermudians in their special outfits, and tourists there for the sunshine. When we got to the front of the line I saw that there was  picture of Queen Elizabeth on the left side and a picture of Bermuda in front of me. It was magical.

At the door there was a taxi driver who a sign with my mom’s name on it. We followed him out to the cab. There was a sea of taxis out there and they all look the same. An S.U.V. with seats facing each other, almost flat front and a black guy sitting in the drivers seat. We climbed in and started rolling forward. The ride was amazing, colors, people, and cities went by. A lot of people on scooters whizzing past us. Beaches on either side, it was paradise.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau – a Biography


I chose Jacques Cousteau for my biography character for a class book report.

I read both Jacques Cousteau, A Life Under the Sea, by Catherine Olmstead and Jacques Cousteau, The Sea King, by Brad Matsen. I also researched on Wikipedia and Cousteau.org for more information. I chose this character because I also love the ocean, and Jacques’ life and accomplishments inspire me. Jacques Cousteau was an explorer, filmmaker, inventor, researcher and ecologist and a french Navy officer. He explored and documented the oceans and all the life forms that lived in them. He pioneered many important underwater technologies like the aqualung and “pioneered ocean conservation” (Wikipedia). His diligence, courage and passion for filmmaking and the oceans drove him to make two important contributions to the world. One, his inventions greatly enhanced oceanography, (and he gave us the sport of scuba diving). Two, through his films and books he gave the widest possible audience access to knowledge of the oceans.

Jacques Cousteau was born on June 11th, 1910. During his youth and school career, Cousteau began to make short films with his handheld camera. He went to a strict military high school and later the French Naval Academy, after which he was in the French Navy. He was appointed to the rank of Captain, and yearning to fly, he then entered flight school. Just before graduating, he had a terrible car accident that ended his flying career. He was sent to the South of France, Toulon, to recover from his injuries.

He met another French Navy Officer, Phillip Talliez, during his recovery,. Talliez was a skin diver and encouraged Cousteau to swim to strengthen his injured arm. It was Talliez who handed Cousteau a mask to open his eyes under water. This changed Cousteau’s life forever. Later Cousteau recalls, “It happened to me that summers’ day, when my eyes were finally opened on the sea.” would become one of his diving friends and collaborators in his work and on his adventures. He also met Fredric Dumas, another skin diver, and together they called themselves the “sea musketeers”. The three men experimented with ways to breathe under water and make films under water. During this time, Jacques also married Simone Melchoir. They would later have 2 sons, the whole family would be involved in Cousteau’s work.

As WWII broke out in Europe, the sea musketeers were still busy experimenting with diving equipment and underwater photography. The enemy thought they were crazy fisherman and generally left them alone. They aided the “French Resistance”. During this time Cousteau began working on the “aqualung” with an engineer named Emile Gagnon. Finally, in 1943, it was perfected with 3 cylinders of compressed air. With the aqualung, the musketeers took more than 500 dives in one summer and reached a depth of 210 feet. With this aqualung, and some advances they had made in underwater filming, the group made a film about sunken ships.

At the end of the war, Cousteau took the film to the Navy to convince them about the importance of underwater research and diving. The Navy commissioned a group called the Undersea Research Group (URG) and made Cousteau head of the group. The URG was created to find underwater mines and look for sunken warships. With the URG, Cousteau finally had all the underwater equipment he needed to explore more than just the water in front of the South of France. But after a few years, even the URG’s explorations seemed small.

He took a leave of absence from the Navy and “leased” the Calypso from Sir Loel Guinness for 1 French franc a year. Guinness agreed to fund Cousteau’s expeditions because Cousteau vowed to share what he learned with the world. Cousteau outfitted Calypso with the latest instruments and diving equipment. He even built a “false nose” so people could view the ocean without even diving in the ocean. Some of the expeditions took them as far away as Antarctica. They also filmed The Silent World, which won many awards including an Academy Award for best documentary. The film was based on a book with the same name that he had written during the war. He finally left the Navy and joined Monaco’s Oceanographic Institute as Director, to make the Institute shine again. With the help of the Institute, Cousteau created the Sea Flea and the SP-500, both research submarines. He made a TV show called the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau that ran for nine years and was seen by millions of people around the world.

Cousteau began filming the oceans to show their beauty and richness. But he found lots of damage and destruction from humans. He reported in Time Magazine in 1970, that “… we have been dumping great quantities of waste into it [the sea] as if it were an exhaustible bounty and a sewer’. He created the Cousteau society to raise awareness of pollution in the ocean. He used the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau to teach the world about what a fragile place the ocean is. Jacques Cousteau died on June 10th, 1997. His family carries on his mission with the Cousteau Society.

What Impact did my character have on the World ?

My character’s technical innovations contributed a great deal to modern oceanography and scuba diving and his filmmaking significantly changed the world’s perception of the oceans.  Jacques Cousteau was a great pioneer in underwater technologies.  From the aqualung to Calypso and underwater research submarines, he started it all.  He and his team were able to explore the oceans like no-one had ever done before.  Their innovations and research helped oceanographers around the world with their work.

Cousteau was a pioneer to show the world the beauty and fragility of the oceans. Through his writing and his filmmaking, he brought the secrets and awareness of the sea to the broad public, and enabled the public to see for themselves.  With his aqualung, which today is called scuba, people and scientists could learn about the secrets of the ocean for themselves!  Without Jacques Cousteau, many of the ocean’s secrets, beauty and fragility might still be unknown today.

 

What important character traits did my subject have, Which one do you admire most?

Cousteau had many important character traits that helped make him successful.  He was passionate about the sea.  He wanted to learn from it, and he wanted to help it and everything in it. He was very determined to explore and share the secrets of the sea, also to create the technologies to do so, including underwater filming and the underwater breathing device and much more. He was brave to help his limp friend get out of a narrow shaft 150 feet down in a dangerous cave and to dive deep into the ocean himself, and he was inventive, because he invented many things (the aqualung , the submarines, a better mask),  To me, his determination was the the most admirable because he had to try and fail and try again with many of his experiments and most people would have just given up.  Jacques Cousteau is my aquatic hero!

The Green Carpet of the Wetmore House

The Green Carpet of the Wetmore House

The green carpet from the living room of the Wetmore house, like the house itself, has a unique history.  It was originally designed for the Wade Opera House in San Francisco.
It was Dr. Wade Thomas`s idea to build the finest opera house in the United States in the city of San Francisco.  The construction started on Mission Street in 1873 and continued on and off until completion due to some large gaps in funding.  Finally, the opera house opened in January 17,1876 with Madame Inez Fabbri starring in Snow Flake! And The Seven Pigmies.  The pigmies names were Blick, Pick, Dick, Klick, Knick, Slick, and Strick.
For the opera house,  an art gallery was built over the entrance.  The central corridor ended in a large vestibule with a crystal fountain spouting cologne water.  Later , the opera house`s name was changed to The Grand Opera House. It could seat 2,400 people, but was rumoured to have occupied more than 4,000. The opera house was still running in 1884, but later burned down.
Wade ordered the green carpet for the opera house from France.  When it was completed it was prepared for its long sea voyage around the tip of South America to San Francisco. But when the carpet arrived, the opera house had already burned to the ground. Wade`s wife did not want to see it being wasted, so she used it in the family’s house.
Thomas Wade died on April 8, 1886.  A few months later on September 23 two of his children died.  When his wife died in 1910 she passed it to their daughter Lizzie Wade Mathews. She put the carpet in her double parlor. Her house is where the Oakland Public Library is today.
When Lizzie died in 1940 she passed it to her sister Lettie Wade Holland.  She never used the carpet.  When Lettie died in 1952 she passed it to her daughter Loie Erskine .  She never used the carpet either and none in her family was that interested in it,  so Loie and her husband Hubert, gave it to Alice Erskine.  For many years it sat in a basement until she found someone who could piece it all together and now it sits in the living room of the Wetmore house.