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Safe Inside the Yellow Rail

Posted by Tall Ships America on July 12, 2008



Part of being an ASTA intern is that we must be very flexible.  Last Monday, we thought we would be sailing with HMCS Oriole to Port Alberni. Yet to our surprise, we found out that in five hours we would instead be sailing with Lady Washington.  However, I didn’t mind the switch since I have wanted to sail with Lady for a while now.  As we stepped aboard, the crew was winding down from an exhausting week of three battle sails a day and dockside tours in between.  Later that day we set out from the dock to refuel the ship and then to begin the transit across the Straight of Juan de Fuca and up to Port Alberni, British Colombia.  Since it had been a long few days, the transit was to be mostly motoring in order to allow the crew to rest a bit before the next festival, and I have to say that I was pretty excited about the rest as well.  However, transit or not, life on a ship never comes to a full stop, so we received our watch assignments.  Just as was the case two hundred years ago, our watches ran in four hour rotating segments. 




Climbing the rigging for the first time….




My watch was from 4-8AM as well as 4-8PM, which seemed pretty early for me, but when I did the math I realized that the other eight hours between each of my four hour watches could be spent sleeping.  Eight hours of work and sixteen hours of sleep…I could do this forever!  In fact, my first watch was absolutely gorgeous.  Although the 4-8AM watch is really early, it does have the rewards of sunrise.  When I got up on deck, the warm tones of the morning sun were chasing back the stars and the cold night.  With the clouds streaking across the sky, it looked like waves crashing against a beach and leaving ripples in the sand.  It was simply picturesque. 



However, soon after that, the fog began to roll in and we lost almost all visibility.  When it was my turn, I took my position next to Lady’s enormous tiller used to steer the boat.  A few days earlier I had met a crewmember from Lady who warned me about the massive bruises the crew gets on their hips from steering the belligerent tiller.  Now I understand what he was talking about, and I have the bruise to prove it.  At about 8 that morning, we were stood down from our watch and I returned to my gently rocking bunk to catch some more sleep.  So far, Lady and her crew are treating me well.


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