Sunday, June 28, 2015

Norway to Ireland 2011: The West Coast of England

Four years ago this week, I had the adventure of a lifetime. Two weeks on a square-rigged ship sailing from Norway to Ireland. I kept a journal, but never published the entire thing and now I want to close the gap. If you're just visiting for the first time, please read the entries that precede this to get the full story.

Day 10   Tuesday               June 28, 2011
Another 18 hours and too much to tell. I’m going to forget something.

Out on the bowsprit
Last night on watch we started setting sail again. First, four staysails starting in the bow. For the first and maybe only time I went out on the bowsprit to untie the sizing on two of the three staysails. That’s the most pleasant place to be on a sailing ship I think. After the staysails it was up in the rig to let out the store stump, the store mers, and the fore stump. This may have been the most satisfying hour of the whole journey. This was now about 10 p.m. and the sun was setting on the port side. It was absolutely gorgeous and I was totally at ease. There were five of us and we felt as if the ship belonged to us. What a rush!
Sunset under sail

I forgot to mention that before we touched the sails, we had to brace all of the yards. Now that’s hard work. We moved all 15 yards to a port tack in about 45 minutes. That requires uncoiling about 50 lines, pulling like animals on 1/3 of them, and then coiling them back up. You don’t stay cold for long with that kind of action.

I was so sore when I hit the sack that I thought I’d be asleep in minutes, but not so. First the 12-4 watch gathered in the companionway for a chat (they should have been on deck!) and then Christian decided to open a bag of cheez doodles in the bunk below me and munch on them one at a time while watching a movie. Ah, the joys of the banjer!

During the night the 12-4 watch decided to have a songfest while working (?) and that was annoying. Have to speak about that with Henrik & Nils in the morning. Maybe they can kick some ass for us tomorrow! There’s a strong feeling on our watch that we have the best teamwork and produce the best results of the three watches.

The morning dawned sunny and sparkling. We’re now fully in the Atlantic, although the western coast of England is still in sight and we discovered that the 4-8 watch had put us on a starboard tack. The big question on everyone’s mind is how long we’ll sail before going back to power and whether we’ll get to Waterford Wednesday night or Thursday during the day. We’re approximately 100 miles south of the Irish coast right now. For the first hour of the morning watch we were at the white board again with our third lesson in tacking a full-rigged ship. We learned that we will do another tack later today and now that sail is set, it’s an “all hand on deck” operation, just as it will be during the races.

At our request we also got more stories about maritime history. We learned about the astonishing inhumanity of the slave ship captains and more details about the training ship Denmark. Both Henrik and Nils are Danish and Nils trained on the Denmark. These guys are amazingly experienced sailors with fascinating life histories. Henrik actually has a wife and children in Thailand and hopes to start a diving business there when he’s done sailing.

After lunch we did the tacking. First, the Captain gave his “Clas’s Corner” daily update. He said that Waterford won’t allow ships to enter the port on Thursday so we’ll be coming in at high tide late on Wednesday afternoon. On the approach tomorrow, I guess we’ll be getting the ship ready, part of which is polishing all the brass fittings on board, and there’s a lot of it. And we paid for the pleasure!

Of course, everyone is salivating about the Guinness and Jameson that awaits. There’s talk today also about parties on all the other ships. It’s probably a good idea we’re coming in early so we have time to party and then recover before we have to travel again for hours. I learned about a better Irish whiskey than Jameson, but I can’ remember it now. Starts with a T; I’ll have to have Allan write it down.

Lines for the braces
Back to the tacking. Actually, it was jibing, tacking with the wind, or to put it bluntly, ass of the boat first! To do that, all of the lee lines had to be slacked and the lines for the lee braces coiled in a special way so that they will run free and not get tangled during the jibe. Then it’s haul away on the main braces, the mizzen braces, and the fore braces in that order, all of it on whistle signals.   it in my hands. I imagine doing it for the races would get you calloused before they were over.
Clewlines and buntlines
The ship is too big and the deck has two levels so the AB in charge can’t be seen by most of the crew. For primarily trainees who’ve only been together for six days and only done the exercise twice, we did pretty good, I think. I didn’t wear gloves this time and I could really feel it in my hands. I imagine doing it for the races would get you calloused before they were over.

Next Up: Arrival in Waterford, Ireland

To see all of the photos from my adventure, visit: OsloOslo to Waterford, Waterford and Dublin 2011.

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