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The Addiction

Posted by meredith87 on September 6, 2006

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I have been back home for just over a week now, and am literally experiencing sailing withdrawal! I have decided to recount my adventures on board…you guessed it…U.S. Brig Niagara, after we left Chicago. Oh, where to begin! I stayed on board until the 26th of August, where we sailed from Chicago to Lorain, OH with stops in St.Ignace in the “UP”, Port Huron, and finally Lorain

I am a little bit superstitious, only with things pertaining to Irish tradition naturally…but the first week after we left Chicago was something for the history books! We had been delayed in Chicago for almost 2 days due to a bad weather front, and on Friday Senior Captain Walter Rybka called an all hands muster to explain our ‘plan of attack’ so to speak. The plan was to leave that day (a Friday), but one of our AB’s experienced an injury moments beforehand and was on his way to the emergency clinic.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, it is extremely forewarned against sailors to leave port on a Friday, and those who don’t heed the warning only find themselves in trouble.  Our AB returned with a wicked battle scar, and shortly afterwards we heard the call “General Quarters” to get underway. Well, we should have heeded the warning sign of the AB’s injury because from the time that we left port a crew member hurt her knee, putting her out of commission for some time, the cook got pink eye, we hit a storm with a few seasickness victims, and all the crew really wanted was to go sailing! Captain Rybka decided to re-fuel and re-provision in St. Ignace, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and we all breathed easy again.

From there we traveled to Port Huron, Highlander Sea’s homeport. They were extremely generous to the crews of the ships which were there, including Pride of Baltimore II, Picton Castle, U.S. Brig Niagara and Highlander Sea! We gave tours there to people who were asked to bring a donation of canned food as admission price, which I found quite kind. After a few days we said farewell to Port Huron and made our way down the St. Clair River, through Detroit and into Lake Erie…where a lot of the crew smiled and breathed ‘home’.

Both Niagara and Pride of Baltimore II anchored at Kelley’s Island for an end of the season beach BBQ! It was a nice treat for all of the crew to be together and relaxing from a busy summer. The evening was capped off by a gathering of the crew to take part in some traditional festivities…but it’s a secret which you will only find out if you decide to sail yourselves!

I’ll end this in saying that the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® is a wonderful event that the American Sail Training Association organizes, but it is only one of many. The ASTA member vessels are always doing something pro active, they are continually trying to promote sail training, education, and history. If there is one thing that I learned this summer it is that if you want the opportunity to sail , it is there…so take a look and say yes to an amazing opportunity!

ASTA Intern Meredith McKinnon

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