South Seas Voyage 2013-2014

Workshop on Stowing/Furling Sails

By Chelsea McBroom

March 7th, 2014

Yesterday at 16:30 aboard the Picton Castle we had a workshop on stowing or furling sails. The Captain began by explaining that the difference between ‘stowing’ and ‘furling’ is that ‘furling’ is often the prettier version or the ‘harbour stow’, and ‘stowing’ is often used to refer to the ‘sea stow’ or the quick and ugly version.

Leaving behind the specifics on how to ‘furl’ a sail, which is the calmer process I’ve been used to, the Mate continued to explain that, especially now when we’re at sea, it is necessary to get up to the yard and stow the sail as quickly as possible, should there be a squall or storm ahead. Also, it really shouldn’t take more than one or two people to do the royal or t’gallant sails. I made sure to confirm that there was no specific way the sail needed to be folded, that it just needed to be gathered and tied. The 4-8 watch had gone aloft and unfurled the fore and main t’gallants and royals so they were ready to be stowed.

Starboard watch was given the main and port given the fore and aloft went three people at a time to practice their sea stows – one to the royal and two to the t’gallants. The rest of the watches stood by on the deck, much of them gathering forward on the focsle head or well deck to get a good view of the action above. We all cheered one another on – I was especially proud of seeing our new crew and how far they’ve come just in the last few weeks and made sure to dish out some high-fives. The rain, which seems constant these days because of monsoon season, drizzled lightly.

I too went aloft, still trying to figure out the quickest, easiest way to stow the t’gallant, never having done one side alone. Lian went aloft with me, taking the starboard side of the sail after helping me get the bunt gasket on. Meg watched us from the shrouds, timing us (the last two, Gustav and Maria, did it in five minutes) and giving tips as we went. Somewhere along the way aloft I scratched myself (my Mum always says “no bleeding and no drowning” so I said aloud that she wouldn’t be pleased) and was smearing blood on the sail. “You’ve got the sweat, now all you need is the tears,” said Meg from behind me. This was distracting at first, or that will be my excuse, as I struggled to pick up and hold the flakes of sail, doing my best to shove them into the sun-patch and heave it up onto the yard as I tied the gasket.

I couldn’t help but laugh at all the faces looking up at me, and when they called up to tell me I was wrapping the gasket around the sheet below the yard (a big no-no) I grinned, pointing at it as if to say to all of them “you mean this? right here? is this what you mean?” pretending to be clueless as they all called out and (I must admit) frustrated that I had missed such a mistake. Lian beat me down to the deck and Meg waited patiently as she always does, loving her time aloft, and we finished in seven minutes.