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Blowin’ Hard

Here we are about 60 nautical miles off the coast of South Africa near Durban. Picton Castle is under shortened sail and it’s blowing hard. Sheets are some taut. Not quite a gale but 30 knots and more sustained wind than we have seen in our flying fish sailing over the last nine months since casting off from the French Quarter in New Lawrence (this is six-year-old Dawson for New Orleans). Mostly soft tradewinds we have had, sometime fresh trades but not 30 knots worth.

Had a few musters to get the idea across that 30 knots sustained is a lot different than 15 to 20. When it blows like this as crew you need to think differently. In addition to extra lashings here and there, double griped this and that, a seaman has to walk differently, look aloft differently, pay attention differently. And stack dirty dishes in the scullery differently. Or not, and just let them capsize and come crashing down. We practised rigged all our “keep ’em aboard” nets. Rigged up the deck grablines. Practised closing all water tight apertures like portholes and skylights and watertight doors. The full gamut. Had to talk about steering. It can be hard steering in these conditions, but steer well we must. Now to get heavy winds experience, well, that’s happening right now, today.

The Mates, Erin, Dirk, and Corey, are doing an outstanding job of chasing down the small details that make for things to be mo’ bettah: cleared freeing ports, getting a gasket off a lower topsail sheet, shutting watertight doors in plenty of time, steering to get the feel of the ship.

And all that said, it is quite a beautiful day out here along the coast of Africa, sailing a great ship bound for the Cape of Good Hope and beyond.

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