The chocolate pancake dance
Posted by Tall Ships America on June 26, 2009
As we sailed out of Hamilton and around the island to the start of Race Three, we were joined by hundreds of yachts, dinghies and even jet skis. It felt like a royal escort.
I hate to admit it, but I couldn’t tell you when we crossed the starting line. I had never set foot on a schooner before and I was often concentrating so much on what I was doing, mostly hauling and trying not to fall over, that I wasn’t always sure exactly what my hauling was achieving up in the rigging and by the time I was done I needed to move to another line.
The last I was aware, we were waiting for the other race committee boat to get into position. Then we were setting more sails and tacking, which involved a lot of hurry and hauling while trying not to slip on the deck.
It started pouring and there was as much water raining down on us from above as there was crashing over the bow. To add to the commotion on deck, the guest crew was lined up on the leeward side being sick, then the main runner block blew, but still Pride of Baltimore 2 sped along, charging towards Charleston.
It wasn’t until I looked up some time later and saw that all the little yachts and powerboats that had been with us were out of sight, and all you could see were the gray skies and tall ships surging forward. “Oh,” I thought, “The race must have begun. I totally missed that. Oops”
It took some strategic blanket placement to make it so that I couldn’t fall out of bed that night. This worked really well until we tacked and I found myself plastered against the hull like a magnet.
It was always more fun to be able to see our competition on the horizon (especially when they were behind us). One night Urania came up from behind and crossed over to our port side. At one point she was only 1.5 nautical miles away, it was eerie to see her silently moving behind us.
One afternoon, as I was lying sleepily in my bunk, I could see Rob, the cook, making German chocolate cake. Good smells are a luxury on a ship so that was always a bonus of sleeping by the galley. I have always been a fan of food, which was heightened on board because all I did was eat, sleep and haul on lines – and eating was the only thing I did that didn’t make me sweat (it was very hot below decks). I always enjoyed walking through the galley and smelling what he’s cooking – it’s also great when we were on deck working and the sweet smell of dinner wafts up.
That night we got woken up during our standby watch (the four hours before our watch time) to help strike a sail. I have never been able to snap out of sleep as well as I did on Pride. It’s probably because the person sent below to do wakeups isn’t messing around and their urgency makes me snap awake. They say my name and I’m up, throwing on my glasses and scrambling up the ladder. This particular night we got up, struck a sail then were relieved back to sleep, then later woken up to set a sail. Both times I was awake enough only to know where I was and what I had to haul on. When I woke up the next morning I realized that we had struck and then reset the same sail and I had no idea why.
During our night watch on the third day we saw a cruise ship, which first appeared as a glowing mass in the distance and it got so close off our port side that we could see individual windows. It looked like a skyscraper that had been knocked on its side, gliding across the water. As it blew past us at twenty knots, we heard them conversing with the Capitan Miranda over the radio because they were on a collision course. After hearing that it would be “inconvenient” for the cruise ship to alter its course to starboard, the Capitan Miranda said “We are participating in the Tall Ships Race, and all the other vessels here are operating under sail power and therefore limited in their ability to maneuver so please steer clear.” The cruise ship then agreed to alter their course to port and continued on by. We could see Capitan Miranda and a few other tall ships as tiny lights on the horizon and listening to the Miranda on the radio made me feel like I had a posse out there on the water.
Since I am on watch from 12-4 in the morning and afternoon, I normally slept through breakfast. On the days I had duty, however, I had to get up early to clean the ship before watch. I hadn’t had a breakfast in days and when I woke up that morning I smelled something on the griddle and literally jumped out of my bunk and into the galley shouting “Pancakes!” and scared the daylights out of our cook Rob. I may or may not have proceeded to go around the galley doing the chocolate chip pancake dance.
I fell asleep after my afternoon watch to the gentle rocking of the ship, as it moved slowly in the light winds only to wake up plastered against the hull, both hearing and feeling the water blowing by. “Well that’s different,” I thought. I went up on deck to find that we were cruising along at 8 knots headed straight for Charleston!