Globe-trotters come full circle

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Two-and-a-half years after departing New York City, the crew of the 43-foot Nautor ketch, Makulu II, returned to the United States May 22 having completed their mission to bring the world to hundreds of elementary school students through the Internet.

As an exuberant crowd of family, friends and students cheered, Capt. Erin Myers deftly steered Makulu into a slip at North Cove Marina in Battery City. A steel band played island music as well-wishers showered the boat with flower petals. After a celebratory champagne shower, the Makulu crew stepped onto the docks where they were greeted with hugs and colorful leis.

The voyage of the Makulu was organized by Heather Halstead, executive director of Manhattan-based non-profit organization Reach the World. Halstead, a Dartmouth graduate, undertook a similar voyage aboard Makulufrom 1997 to 1999. Her mission then, as it is now, was to link students and teachers in low-income communities with real world global expeditions. Through Makulu’s adventures, teachers can bring a new dimension to the textbooks studied in class, and inspire kids to explore the world.

“Even though this voyage of Makulu is over, your voyage has just begun,” Myers said to the students who gathered around. Myers, also a Dartmouth graduate, was 23 years old when she took the helm of Makulu and set sail Nov. 16, 2001 (See Capt. Erin Meyers’ story, next page). Though a seasoned sailor — having spent summers aboard the Rachel B. Jackson, a replica of a cargo schooner based in Southwest Harbor, Maine — she says she didn’t know what to expect of the long voyage.

“I didn’t know what to think in the beginning. It was more than I expected in every way,” says Myers. “I learned something new every day.”

She thanked the teachers and the students who monitored Makulu’s voyage and kept in contact through the Internet.

“It’s you who have been at the helm of this project,” Myers told them.

Among other adventures, the Makulu crew went to Rock of Gibraltar to find birds, Morocco to interview children, Senegal to find masks, and Sri Lanka to explore mines.

Racquel Lloyd, 13, has been involved with the project since the beginning. At first she followed Makulu as a school project and then later out of personal interest.

“It’s been very good to keep in contact with the crew,” says Lloyd, who was ecstatic to finally meet the crew she had come to know these past two years.

In addition to Myers, the crew returning in May was Jessica Andre, Josh Madeira and Ashley Wells. Former crewmember Adam Dilts, who left the boat in May 2002, was also on hand. Other former crewmembers are James Chase and Rorke Miller.

“We were so nervous coming in,” says Andre, who joined the crew in September 2002. Andre, 32, was not a sailor when Halstead tapped her to replace one of the departing crewmembers. She took two weekend lessons at the Manhattan Sailing School, also located at North Cove, and then joined the crew in Australia. Next, she will attend Stanford University to pursue a master’s in education.

As for Myers, who was aboard Makulu for its entire voyage, she doesn’t yet know what she will do next.