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Maritime musings

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 28, 2010

By Becca

                It’s a beautiful day in Chicago. I’m sitting upstairs in Navy Pier. The water is sparkling from sunlight, and the sky is clear and blue.  The Tall Ship Windy has just passed back into the inner harbor, returning from a daysail, and Roseway is dousing her sails.  Some pretty little sail boats are gamboling about as well. I have to say, I wish I were on the water!

Despite the lovely day, I’m feeling a little blue. It’s the last week of the 2010 Tall Ships Challenge, and I don’t want it to end! I’m ready to pick up and sail to the next port, but I’ll just be flying home.  It’ll be an interesting adjustment from fo’c’sle life to dorm life, and from standing watch to writing essays. 

One of my favorite memories from the last transit was the trip from Green Bay back to Sturgeon Bay to begin the race. It was a hazy, warm day, and I was standing lookout on the monkey deck.  We were motor-sailing along and the Privateer Lynx sailed up beside us, looking sleek and smooth. She cruised beside us for about an hour, frolicking about to our port. Eventually she sped up and passed us, showing us her stern.  Needless to say, I spent much more time staring at the pretty schooner than looking for fishing traps! With her lovely lines and raked masts, Lynx is easily one of my favorite boats. 

The actual race during the last leg was uneventful. I learned how to steer “full and by,” which involves trying to point the boat as far up into the wind as is possible. We ended up going past the finish line and having to tack back over to it, because the wind was coming from an unfavorable position. This tack occurred in the middle of the night, with the lights of Milwaukee visible in the distance and stars overhead. 

The last few hours of the trip were also memorable. Monday was another bright, balmy day that the lakes seem to have in abundance. We sailed into harbor, and I watched the skyline grow from aloft. The skyscrapers seemed to emerge out of the haze in the distance, growing clearer and stronger. I could make out the green dome of Navy Pier, surrounded by masts and yards, and shadowed by high-rises.  It was a reminder of how much a relic of the past these boats really are.  But after spending a summer aboard the tall ships, I know for a fact that these ships are still relevant to modern life. Over the past two months, I have seen students and crew overcome seasickness, uncomfortable conditions, tight quarters, and rough weather to arrive at their destinations. I know that I’ve grown too. I have worked as hard as the professional crew and tried to absorb as much seamanship as I could. And my blisters turned to calluses, badges of honor to remind me of the work I’ve done and what I’ve achieved.


2 Responses to “Maritime musings”

  1. snoozie said

    Hi Becca,

    I have really enjoyed your writing on this blog as well as many others. I think I have read every single blog entry since June 2010. I sailed in the Parade of Sail on Friends Good Will in Chicago on the 24th and may have caught the sailing bug.” I never thought that sailing would interest me but I have always had a desire to go port-to-port on one of the Great Lakes. I think I may make that happen…



  2. Becca said

    Hi Sue,

    Thanks for reading! I’m really glad to hear that you’ve “caught the bug.” I know I have. You should check out volunteer opportunities on the Denis Sullivan, they’re a great crew.


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