Monday, March 30th, 2009
All hands mustered this morning, after some of the off-duty watch returned to the ship, to prepare to get underway and sail away from Anguilla. The crew seem to have enjoyed their stay in Anguilla, relaxing on beautiful beaches and taking in the annual Moonsplash reggae music festival. Lots of work was done on board as well – repairing the flying jib sheet which had parted the night before the ship arrived in port, varnishing the fly rail on the bridge, continuing to restore the boat that’s currently on the hatch along with the usual painting jobs.
Sailing off the hook is something that this crew has become accustomed to, having done it a number of times, but it’s actually fairly rare to do it. Basically, it involves getting the ship underway by using only the sails, no engine at all. There was a shoal off our starboard quarter, a big cargo-carrying ship that just arrived this morning was in front of us and another vessel anchored a little farther forward. The fore yards were braced on a port tack, the main yards on a starboard tack. The crew heaved up the anchor, then set the fore lower tops’l to get the ship turned, then braced the fore yards on a starboard tack, matching the main, to get the ship moving forward under sail.
At this point in the voyage, it’s interesting to see the crew working together. Sail handling must be done quickly and efficiently in order for sailing off the hook to work well, especially when there are ships and other obstacles nearby. The crew moved quickly around the deck, I even noticed some of them getting into place for what they anticipated would come next. There are a few new trainees who just joined the ship a month ago in Grenada and they are catching on by watching and imitating the crew who have been here for a while.
Just now we’re sailing along in Force 4 easterly wind, past the island of St. Maarten. The sky is mostly sunny and the ocean is a beautiful sapphire blue. The 8-12 watch has just taken the deck and ship’s work is about to get started for the day.