This is Trudi writing. Someone who has never sailed in Picton Castle or any other sail training vessel. People wonder how on earth I ended up working for a tall ship being so entirely unfamiliar with sail training or sailing ships or sailing at all. Living locally, I knew of the Picton Castle of course, but I still imagined ‘sail training’ was something along the lines of learning to drive a yacht. Working here in the office and then eventually attending a Sail Training International Conference are the things that made me first discover what sail training actually is and then lead me to fall in love not only with Picton Castle but with sail training in general. And yet I’ve still not done it.
So, in the midst of posts about life-changing voyages before the old teak wheel and favourite South Pacific ports from Captain Moreland and Maggie and some to come soon from Tammy and Bronwen (all people who have sailed many times in Picton Castle), why the heck am I writing one?
I guess I provide a pretty unique viewpoint. Ha! No, not unique at all come to think of it. In this tall ship world I work in at the ship’s shore office, I’m the lone – the one and the only – non-sailor who has never visited (or even heard of) many of the ports Picton Castle will be visiting on this next voyage. So I tend to think of myself as one-in-a-billion. But actually that really makes me exactly like many of you who are reading this. Yes, I know: plenty of you have indeed sailed and/or visited some of these ports, but most of you have not. One step outside of this sail training world and I lose all my unique-ness.
Photos can show you why I want to go on this voyage far better than words can. Well, photos plus imagination. There are thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of photos on my computer and CDs here in the office. They’re outstanding. Living in a gorgeous part of the world like Lunenburg, I come to work some days in the midst of winter and see the smooth-like-glass ocean with sea smoke rising from it, and the glorious colours of the sunrise and the old historic buildings and I’m in awe, so I take a photo to share the beauty with the world – only to feel bitter disappointment because the photo I took doesn’t show what I actually saw at all. It’s like sitting down to eat what appears to be a delicious, dark, gooey piece of chocolate rum torte, only to find it is one of those mass produced, sweet brown-flavoured cakes; no rich chocolate, no rum .. just sweet and brown and full of chemicals. It’s like finding cilantro in my salsa. Frustratingly disappointing. So all these photos I see from past voyages? I know they don’t come close to what the people on that ship were looking at when they took the photos. These snapshots make my heart race, yet the photographer looked at them and thought “dang, that’s not anywhere near approaching the majesty of this moment”.
I want to see the real thing! I want to be there and see what I’m missing.
I’ve not done it. I’ve not sailed a barque or any other ship. But looking at endless photos of the sails going up and going down – can’t you just imagine the wonderful sound they’re making? Like sheets snapping in the wind on the clothesline on a sunny summer day, but so much more. All-encompassing. I’ve never heard the sound in real life, but I see the photos and I imagine it clearly. That glimpse through the rigging of a stunning sun setting on the ocean horizon .. the colours in real life must be completely indescribable and they don’t just stop at the edge of the photo. They carry on in both directions as far as you can see. Ah!! I need to know if my imagination is anywhere near approaching what people on ships see and smell and hear and feel. Ooh. Goosebumps.
Trying to describe these feelings in words makes my eyes leak a little bit. Can you imagine all this heart-stopping gorgeousness all around you, but then there’s more? And even more after that? Every day something to take your breath away, and then you arrive at a place like Pitcairn Island. Or the Marquesas – anywhere in French Polynesia. Anywhere on this entire voyage. These fabulous islands with people so friendly you feel like you’ve always known them, and they want to show you why their home is the best. And they’re all right – every place the ship is visiting is the best, and there is still more beauty to come around every single corner. And then, at the end of your day of discoveries ashore, you head home to your own home, in your bunk below decks on the Barque Picton Castle, and as you drift off to sleep you get to remember all the reasons why all of this is the best.
I’ve never gone on a sailing ship. But I want to.