Nelly’s fully-rigged adventure
Posted by Tall Ships America on June 11, 2009
Written by ASTA Intern Nelly
I was on A Watch, which took the deck from 4am to 8am and 4pm to 8pm and I was pleased to find that while it may be excruciatingly early for a wake up at home, getting up at 3:20 am wasn’t as hard at sea and it provided the best star gazing I had ever seen.
On watch you trade positions hourly between bow watch, boat check, helm and idle. On my first watch, I started out on boat check which requires you to do a full sweep of the ship every half hour to check for fire, leaks and fuel and check water levels and engine stats. For me, this was a great way to get more comfortable with how the ship worked and the lay of the land. I also enjoyed climbing in and out of the little hatches. We also had cleaning duties while on watch. We were responsible for cleaning the deck in the morning and cleaning the dinner dishes at night, which was often accompanied by music and dancing.
There wasn’t any wind for the first three days so we had to motor but thankfully we set sail on Thursday and got to “play with the boat”, as the captain called it, by bracing the yards and tacking. It takes a long time to turn that big of a ship.
My first time in the rigging was a bit more nerve racking than I would have liked, I found myself resorting to the advice I had gotten a few years ago: “If you don’t let go you can’t fall off.” So I repeated that over and over and found myself trusting my footing and my grip which made it much easier.
We had a swim call on our second day out which was a welcome relief from the heat. There’s nothing that makes me feel more like a kid than jumping off the side of the boat into the big blue ocean. It’s even more fun because from the water, the ship looks like the one Hook had in Peter Pan. We shared a pair of goggles to look underwater and we found ourselves squealing a bit after looking down into the vast ocean below us. I could only look for a second because the sight of our little legs treading water over the deep ocean totally freaked me out!
One day, for “work party” (maintenance) I got to caulk the stern of the boat. We did maintenance every afternoon and while I thought it might be a bit scary to swing off the back like that, it was defiantly the best spot to work because it wasn’t as hot as the deck or down below. I enjoyed hammering the cotton and oakum into the seams (to make them water tight) but as the ship hit a wave the platform would shift to the side half a foot and I would squeal. I squealed more in the two hours we were back there than I had in a long time. It wasn’t scary but I couldn’t help it…I got it under control eventually.