Saturday, January 29th, 2011
On January 23rd, after Bounty Day celebrations wrapped up, the 8-12 watch took the deck. Before we’d had a chance to muster Mates Paul and Mike ordered the crew to take in all sail. We were about to pass into a nasty little trough and rather than wallow within the mass of foul weather under sail they opted to fire up the engine and motor through it instead. The 4-8 watch remained on deck, providing the manpower we needed to take in sail and stow the topgallants efficiently and quickly. The wind was blowing from the northeast at about 6 knots as we entered the trough – yet as we motored it shifted almost 180 degrees. We braced the yards on a starboard tack accordingly. Even standing and running rigging affect our steerage and when the yards are braced improperly the helmsman can have a tiresome time at the wheel. Then the rains came – soaking decks and crew alike. We quickly slacked the running rigging to avoid any undue strain on the lines. By the time we had finished coiling and hanging for the 4th time that evening the stars were beginning to peek through the once dense cloud cover and the worst of it was far behind our wake. A southwesterly wind now blew and at midnight we thankfully climbed into our bunks – a little wet and tired, but satisfied.
The 12-4 and the 4-8 watch must have been similarly busy sail handling during the night – for when we awoke again for our watch at 7:30 am all sail was set. The engine was dormant and the only noises we heard were the steady hum of the morning generator spell and the swish of sails as they encountered the wind. We do so enjoy the sailing after all!
Two nights later the 8-12 watch gathered on the quarterdeck to begin our nightly lesson. We had adopted the idea, which was hatched by the 12-4 watch, to have nightly information sessions. While night watch is usually fairly quiet and uneventful (barring any changes in wind direction or squalls) and a good time to catch up with crew mates and ‘spin some yarns’. It is nice to use the opportunity to ask and discover answers to pressing questions that pop up during the day. The night was absolutely pitch dark. The waning moon, when it did rise, resembled a yellow cat eye. The swirling clouds its impermanent pupil – before it was gone – slipping into the dark sky as our ship slipped through the dark seas – speckled with phosphorescence. In the dark Siri taught a class in Compass Variation and Deviation and how to calculate your True course. In case you are curious at home a common mnemonic used is: Can (Compass) +/- Dead (Deviation) = Men (Magnetic) +/- Vote (Variation) = Twice (True). An excellent question to be sure.
For the next couple of days the rains came in brief, but effectively dampening downpours and most ships work adjusted. Logan and Megan set up in the hold making servings. Meredith, Clark, Tiina and Joani spread the sails over the tables of the salon – and continued their stitching and patching. Jan worked on the baseboards in the companionway and the chart-house. WT and Fred preped, primed and painted the heads. Abbey painted a dragon in the forward shower….Chris continued to instruct Mitch in the engine room. While they were not quite as affected by the change in weather – they were not altogether unaffected by the mounting swells!