Caught by the Sea: My Life on Boats

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Another such wave could easily be the end of us. I had to do something, fix something, save the boat, save myself. But what? Gary Paulsen takes readers along on his maiden voyage, proving that ignorance can be bliss. Also really stupid and incredibly dangerous. He tells of boats that have owned himgood, bad, and belovedand how they got him through terrifying storms that he survived by sheer luck. His spare prose conjures up shark surprises and killer waves as well as moonlight on the sea, and makes readers feel what it's like to sail under the stars or to lie at anchor in a tropical lagoon where dolphins leap, bathed in silver. Falling in love with the ocean set Gary Paulsen on a lifelong learning curve and readers will understand why his passion has lasted to this day.
Curriculet Details
26 Questions
33 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This digital curriculum for middle, school students contains interactive videos exploring the life and writing of Gary Paulsen, figurative language, and making text references as well as annotations describing sailboats, the places Paulsen travels, and other books by Paulsen. Throughout the Curriculet, students will be drawn to different aspects of Paulsen's style and structure. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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This is a horrible and traumatic thing to witness, especially if you are only seven years old! 
You have probably heard of Gary Paulsen since he is a famous writer of young adult fiction. He's often associated with his sled dogs and his love for the Iditarod race. Clearly, he also is passionate about the sea. Watch this video biography of Gary Paulsen and then list three facts about his life that you discover in the video. 

Chapter 1

Guadalupe is at the very southern tip of California, almost into Mexico. (This annotation contains an image)
We can infer that Paulsen does not like the change that has come over Guadalupe today. List three words from this paragraph that create this mood. 
The boom is the lower part of the sail. If you are sitting in the boat and the sail moves, you can imagine how the boom could knock you in the head as it does to Paulsen. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice how Paulsen ends his chapter with short, declarative sentences. It gives the writing a finality and a powerful sound. 

Chapter 2

Considering the context, why does Paulsen use the phrase "with a distinctly predatory glint in his eye" when describing the yacht broker? 
Using phrases like "dusky dancing maidens" and "the trade winds caressing our naked bodies," Paulsen creates a ________________________________ mood. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Below is a Schock 22. (This annotation contains an image)
Paulsen's voice is strong here. Explain in your own words what Paulsen is really saying. 
"... Some kind of rope... then another kind of rope... back to the little round winch things..." Why does Paulsen use these phrases? 
Which of the following words best describes Paulsen's tone as he retells the "First, Second, and Third Disaster"? 
From this sentence, what can you infer happens? 

Chapter 3

A jetty is a structure that projects out from the land into the water. In most harbors or ports, jetties are either wooden docks, timbers, or rock walls. You can see in this picture how the jetties lead out into the open ocean.  (This annotation contains an image)
Although Paulsen's style tends to be straightforward, he occasionally uses figurative language. Figurative language is found in all types of writing. It helps readers understand things, events, and people in unique ways. It's important to be able to recognize the different types of figurative language. Watch this video for a review and see how many you already know. Think about which type this highlighted sentence exemplifies. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the effect of Paulsen repeating the word "amazing" throughout this paragraph? 

Chapter 4

What do you predict such a calm, flat sea may mean? Have you ever heard of the phrase "the calm before the storm"? 
Swells are like waves, but they don't usually crest and topple over. It's like a rolling of the sea. (This annotation contains an image)
A trough is like a valley in between two waves. (This annotation contains an image)
Paulsen uses which type of figurative language to help the reader visualize the damage done to the aircraft carrier? 
In many parts of this book Paulsen uses a great deal of technical language about his sailboat. If you are unfamiliar with the various parts of a sailboat, that can make it difficult to visualize or understand what he is describing. But that happens to many readers and it's okay. Watch the video below on using context clues to help you when you don't understand a word's meaning.  (This annotation contains a video)
What can we infer about "reefing" a boat from this sentence? 
Paulsen means that man knows what he wants to do, but nature decides what will happen. 
"Nature's playground" is a metaphor for which of the following? 
Which word makes this sentence an example of personification? 
The diagram of the many parts of a sailboat may help you visualize what Paulsen is trying to do. Basically, the boat is on its side, and Paulsen is trying to lower and tie up the two sails. (This annotation contains an image)
Caught by the Sea is nonfiction. Another of Paulsen's nonfiction books is My Life in Dog Years. This is one of several nonfiction books Paulsen wrote about his love of sled dogs. The prefix "non" means not. So nonfiction is just that--NOT fiction, meaning it is factual and real and not from the writer's imagination like fiction.  (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz #1 

Chapter 5

It used to be that sailing around the world meant sailing around Cape Horn. Cape Horn sits at the straight between South America and Antarctica. For many years it was a major milestone on the clipper route, by which sailing ships carried trade around the world. The seas around Cape Horn are some of the roughest in the world with huge waves, strong currents, and icebergs. Many ships have gone down or been lost in this area. It is still considered to be one of the most dangerous passages to sail. (This annotation contains an image)
A sextant is a navigational tool that is used with longitude and latitude charts to find your location while on the sea. List three things that Paulsen will desperately need if he is really lost at sea. 
Why do you think Paulsen does not eat anything on the third day after the storm? 
Ernest K. Gann was an American adventure novelist known for his stories about aviation. He flew aircraft during WWII. He also had a love for sailing.  (This annotation contains an image)
Make a logical prediction. What might be a difficulty with fishing in Paulsen's current situation? 
Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail around the world by himself.  (This annotation contains an image)
This picture of the basic parts of a sailboat will be helpful here to understand exactly what Paulsen is describing. The tiller, you see, can be grabbed by your hand and since it's attached to the rudder, it can steer the boat. You can also clearly see both sails, the main and the jib. (This annotation contains an image)
"Tuning" the sails means to tighten them. 
According to Paulsen, what is the "sweet spot" he discovered? 

Chapter 6

We can infer that Paulsen is now an experienced sailor. (This annotation contains an image)
It is this part of Paulsen's life that most people associate with him--running sled dogs and racing the Iditarod.  (This annotation contains an image)
This is a picture of the Inside Passage and the tail of a humpback whale. Many Alaskan cruises go through this passage because of its wildlife and scenic beauty. (This annotation contains an image)
Which device is Paulsen using to make a point about his lifetime of risk taking? 
A catamaran looks very different than other sailboats.  (This annotation contains an image)
This paragraph is almost lyrical. Paulsen describes the places he has traveled in his catamaran and we understand how much he loves this boat. Choose three lines or phrases that you feel show the beauty this boat has brought to Paulsen's life. 
Click on the link and look at the picture. Figurative language often gives us a "shock of recognition" and we suddenly realize that, yes, it does look that way. type of figurative language does Paulsen use here? 
Paulsen's description in the highlighted passage contains a sharp contrast of two very different images. Explain the contrast and list at least two phrases that develop one and at least two phrases that develop the other. 
Fresh water, or rather the lack of it, has historically been the cause of many deaths of those stranded on the open sea. There is a famous line from the poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," that underscores the irony of being surrounded by water, yet dying of thirst: “Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” The picture below shows the men dying aboard the doomed ship that has been caught in the Doldrums without any wind.  (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz #2 

Chapter 7

To "come about" is one of hundreds of nautical terms. It means when a boat has "balanced" itself after changing direction with the wind. 
Click on the link below and read the poem "Sea Fever" by John Masefield. down two lines from the poem that you feel express the way Pulsen feels about the sea. Explain why you feel Gary Paulsen would like these two lines. 
Paulsen may be referring here to The Perfect Storm, a true story about a fishing boat, the Andrea Gail, and her crew of deep sea fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts who get caught and perish in a deadly storm at sea. The book is by Sebastian Junger and it was made into a movie in 2000. Watch the movie trailer of The Perfect Storm below.  (This annotation contains a video)
A squall is a strong gust of wind, usually with rain or sleet, at sea. 
This usually means that a storm is coming. A barometer measures air pressure.  (This annotation contains an image)
Winterdance is a nonfiction book about Paulsen's experience with his sled dogs.  (This annotation contains an image)
Below is a picture of Catalina Island.  (This annotation contains an image)
Paulsen creates a lot of dread and suspense when he writes lines like this: "With me halfway to the mast, the whole world went mad."Write two other sentences from this page that demonstrate Paulsen doing this very same thing. 
The picture below is a Hans Christian, like the boat Paulsen is on during this ordeal. The cockpit is indicated by the small windows.  (This annotation contains an image)
The companionway is below where the beds are and where you can sleep.  (This annotation contains an image)
Paulsen writes that his hand was "on the wheel in a counterfeit control." Why does he use the word "counterfeit"? 
Which is the best statement that matches the lesson Paulsen has learned. 
Any word that contains the word part "meter" means the measuring of something. Based on the context, what does an anemometer measure? 
Quiz #3