On April 25th, James Rogers, a rising senior at Paul W. Crowley East Bay MET School, will take on an ambitious senior thesis project. Rogers will set sail from New Orleans on a 13-month voyage around the world onboard the historic tall ship Picton Castle.
Circumnavigating the globe is a challenge often reserved for only the most seasoned sailors, but Rogers is excited about the opportunity. His appreciation for sailing and the world of tall ships was instilled at an early age by his parents, who have worked with some of the world’s most iconic historic vessels.
“My parents met on a tall-ship,” says Rogers. “They raised me around the three original ocean classic schooners, so as a kid I spent time on them.”
Naturally, when James heard about the program his sophomore year, he became excited about the prospect of spending his senior year at sea. With the help of his father, James secured a place onboard the Picton Castle.
“He gave me the opportunity to go along on a world voyage on the Picton Castle, I just couldn’t say no.”
While at sea, James will be working toward completing his senior thesis, studying maritime navigation and the defining advancement of the marine chronometer.
“The topic was built around the trip itself,” he explains. “My interest in navigation is pretty personal-I’ve been doing stuff like this for basically my entire life.”
The marine chronometer played a pivotal role in simplifying maritime navigation when it was introduced in 1730, and James aims to prove through his research that John Harrison’s invention is the most important innovation in maritime history. While aboard, Rogers will take part in the daily duties of a deckhand, and learn about celestial navigation, winds, weather and of course, the marine chronometer, as a part of his thesis research.
His home at sea for 13 months, the Picton Castle is a 179-foot three-masted barque. The vessel was completed in 1928, originally built as a fishing trawler in Wales. The ship was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during World War II where she served as a minesweeper for the duration of the war. The Picton Castle continued life as a freighter, until 1990 when Daniel Moreland purchased the vessel and converted it into the three-masted barque as it’s recognized today.
James is excited to set sail and begin his research, but what he’s looking forward to the most? Two warm destinations-the Galapagos Islands and Bali, Indonesia. Overall, though, he’s excited about the unique opportunity to travel the world.
“I’m excited to see the world in a way that most people my age, or even in their lifetimes don’t get to do,” he explains.
When he returns, he’s looking forward to continuing to work on tall ships, hoping to continue to crew or spend time in a shipyard while furthering his education.