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Adventures on Adventuress

Posted by astajesse on July 7, 2008

What a whirlwind the past few days have been!  The end of the festival in Victoria was filled with both sadness and excitement.  With the ships closed and the vendors vacated, the festival was quite ghostly.  However, at the same time, I knew I would be sailing the next day so I was excited to see the ship and crew with whom I would be working.  Finally I learned that I would be on Adventuress for the next several days and for the race.  When I arrived in the morning, I found that I was not the only one sailing on Adventuress for the first time that day.  In addition to myself and passengers for the race, the Youth on Board program was joining the ship for the transit to Quartermaster Harbor (about three days).  The youth were high school students between the ages of 14 and 17 who had applied for the opportunity to sail on one of three ships, Zodiac, Mycia, and Adventuress.  Once everyone was on board, we set out from the dock and prepared to start the first race. 

Honestly it was very exciting, albeit a bit anticlimactic.  With large sailing ships, there is a flurry of orders to raise sails, pull in the docklines and fenders, stow gear and get the ship underway. After that there is not much to do until the next tack or change of direction.  It was quite a beautiful sight standing on deck and watching the other ships prepare to cross the starting line with all of their sails set and ready to fly.  When the starting gun was fired, the first ship began to make its way across the line.  After that, the rest of the ships had 20 minutes to cross. 

Sailing  is not like most sports where everyone starts at the same time.   Instead, each ship records the time it crosses the start and finish line and the the time is adjusted to account for an assortment of variables.  Because of all that, the winner of the race may not necessarily be the first one across the finish line.  Despite the slow progress at the beginning, we had an excellent breeze blowing across the Straight of Juan de Fuca.  In fact, Adventuress was sailing at maximum hull speed for much of the race at a blazing 10.5 knots! 


 The deck was heeled over so far that our stern caprail was awash several times.  It was absolutely fantastic to watch the ship flying along so well.  It looked as if she had been set free and was enjoying every minute of it.  However, the same cannot be said of some of the passengers.  For many of the students, and passengers, this was their first experience on a tall ship and so some were a bit green with the motion and others were sliding across the deck.  Eventually, we had to drop sail and motor the rest of the way into Port Angeles so that we could clear customs and continue on our way. 

After clearing customs and offloading out passengers, the captain decided that the crew and youth on board were tired so we anchored just outside of Port Angeles for the night.  When the ship is anchored, those onboard must stand an hour of anchor watch at some point during the night to make sure that the ship is safe.  The mate picked three different bearing points that we would measure throughout the night to make sure we were not drifting or dragging our anchor.  We also monitored the weather conditions to make sure that they were still consistent.  After a long day, the crew and youth were glad to relax, sing some shanties, and turn in for the night.

Day two was a bit more normal than the first day as far as routine goes.  Adventuress doesn’t race every day but does run education programs regularly.  Being a passenger and a crew member, it was interesting for me to watch the program run in full swing.  Everyone was assigned to a watch with crew watch leaders and shortly began morning chores.  My watch was responsible for the deck that morning so we pumped some sea water up to wash the deck and prepared for the morning sail.  After that, we rotated through education and watch stations. 

Although the program wasn’t geared towards my age, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit!  We learned about the environment of Puget Sound, sailing theory, boxing compasses, and knot tying.  Even though I have lived in Puget Sound my whole life, I was amazed at the complexity of our ecosystem.  Even down to the tiny phytoplankton whose shells are used in toothpaste, every bit of the Sound is interrelated.  The kids were also soaking up all this knowledge and were ready to participate and share what they had learned with one another.  After the hour rotation of the watch, my watch more or less went on ‘break’.  During that time we taught the kids how to make the Turk’s head bracelets which are popular amongst sailors and enthusiasts.  They also enjoyed drawing on the deck.  In fact, when I saw someone pick up a stick of chalk and begin scribbling away, I had to look around to see if any of the crew thought this was strange.  But to my delight, they actually used the deck as an enormous chalk board while they were teaching.  By the end of the day, the deck was covered with food webs, sailboats, compasses, labeled deck paraphernalia, and a few extra doodles. 

After a full day of sailing and teaching, we anchored in Blakely harbor for the night and signed up for our anchor watches.  The evenings festivities began when Mycia  rafted up next to us for a visit and a game.  With both groups of students onboard, our game of charades and CatchPhrase(R) was quite exciting!  But, the clock eventually won and we all turned in for the night.

On our transit to Tacoma for the Parade of Sail, we took on a few more passengers and off loaded our youth program.  As we set sail, there was only a light breeze so, to keep station with the ships fore and aft of us, we used our motor to aid the sails.  It really wasn’t until the last day that I became accustomed to the ships operations and orders. The first three days I felt a bit useless since I had never sailed on a tall ship before and so wasn’t sure what to do when an order was called.  Since there was an education program onboard, the crew was employed in aiding the youth.  Without any sort of indoctrination or sail training, I had to observe for my self and ask as many questions as I could.  Eventually everyone, including myself, would snap to their stations ready to haul on a line while the shantiman led in a round of ‘Haul Away Joe’ or ‘Down to South Australia’, after which a good ‘2, 6, heave!’ would sheet the sail to proper trim.

 Even though I felt a bit lost, I can now understand why people are so enraptured by sail training and specifically tall ships.  I came into this sail with some sailing experience, but nowhere near the knowledge that these people have.  They all take such pride in their ships but at the same time, they have a strong bond to the crew on their sister ships as well.  It is a small but very close community.  In fact, there is often a sense of brotherly competition and mischief between various vessels. All in all, I loved watching the crew do what they love and teach others as well.  My journal now has several quickly scribbled shanties and notes about the passage.  Although Adventuress is not continuing in the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE(r) Race Series after Tacoma, I would love to sail with her again when the summer is over.  In fact, I can’t wait until San Diego when I will have two months worth of experience and a wealth of knowledge I can only imagine now.  ADVENTURESS Crew


One Response to “Adventures on Adventuress”

  1. watertiger42 said

    While the Adventuress is not the first tall ship I sailed on she is unashamedly my favorite. The crew both on board and in the office are fantastic! I’m happy to hear you had such a great time!

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