Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Big Summer Adventure

On this cold, windy, and rainy day in landlocked southern Minnesota, I'm daydreaming about my next  adventure just over a month from now. I'm going to be part of Tall Ships 2011, a six-week odyssey from home port to Halmstad, Sweden for more than a 90 of the world's tall ships. There are two cruising legs and three racing legs in the event.

I won't be along for the entire ride as I'm only registered for the first leg, a non-racing nine-day journey from Oslo, Norway to Waterford, Ireland. I'll be aboard the Christian Radich, a three-masted ship built in 1937 whose home port is Oslo. I've loved the Christian Radich from afar since I was a boy, ever since my parents took me to see the Cinemiracle movie, "Windjammer". It wasn't until the Tall Ships first visited Duluth, Minnesota in 2008 that I learned that I could actually book passage on her (and any of the other tall ships in the event). What a revelation!

The Christain Radich has a permanent crew of 15-20 depending on the season and can accommodate up to 80 trainees (I'll be a trainee). The trainees are divided into three 4-hour watches to do the work of the ship. This includes look-out, fire and security patrols, sail manoeuvering and steering, as well as maintenance and galley work. The crew schedule is 4 hours on and 8 hours off during the length of the voyage. I wonder how the duties are assigned: first-come, first-served? audition? fiat? I guess I'll find out.

We sleep in hammocks and we're told to bring as little on board as possible because there's very little storage space as one might imagine. No hard-sided luggage, no laptops, no cell service, no alcohol; lots of no-nos. (Curiously, smoking is allowed!) Just lots of fresh air, lots of physical exertion, three squares a day, international camaraderie, in addition to honing sailing and seamanship skills.

Most of the trainees are between 15 and 25, particularly on the racing legs, so I'm going to be one of the elder statesmen. I hope that doesn't disqualify me from climbing the rigging and working the sails. I know everyone has to haul away on deck, but I want to go aloft as well.

I've sailed on the Pacific Ocean, but never the Atlantic and even though I'm not on a racing leg, I'm looking forward to being on the water the longest of any of the legs this summer. That's really the experience I'm craving. And when we get to Waterford, Ireland, we'll be joined by all of the other tall ships in the races. I'm looking forward to seeing the Europa once again, a three-masted bark I had the pleasure of boarding last summer in Duluth at Tall Ships Duluth 2010.

I am so stoked!!

1 comment: