"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain


>> Friday, March 2, 2012

Curled up on the settee, enjoying the warmth of the main salon, and the stableness of the quarterdeck area, I find it hard to believe that a couple of hours ago I was fully submerged.
I've been having a busy day. We sailed out of Roseau, Dominica at 1300 and I was 'in charge' of setting the sails. I saw 'in charge' loosely because I did little more than echo the mates. Somehow we managed to get the sails up, and despite a rather fouled anchor, we sailed off the hook out of Roseau.
Fast forawrd and B-watch is at the headsails. Captain Smith ordered the striking of the outer jib, and I was feeling particularly happy because Jander and I were going to gasket the sail. A sea stow, or "get it in some resemblence of a furl before something goes wrong" stow, is the quick tying down a sail while underway, usually in less-than-perfect conditions. Today there were no raging white caps or blinding sheets of rain, and I really didn't think we were going to have a problem getting the sail stowed quickly. But, as I should have learned by now, predictability does not exist when sailing.
Things started out nicely; Jander ungasketed the sail tie and we pulled the miter over the folds. I was leaning over the bowsprit, one hand reaching for the sail tie, the other holding the canvas folds tight, and then... I was underwater.
It's the strangest sensation. You're elevated above the ocean on a vessel moving at about 5 knots, going against the waves. When the ship rides down into the gully of a swell, and then up over a crest, it gives the same butterfly sensation that driving over hills does. When the swells are deep enough your feet or legs will dunk in the water. This is why I take any opportunity to gasket, ungaskset, furl, stow, or check for chafe. The headrig makes every carnival ride seem pointless and unexciting. Despite the enjoyment I derive from spening time on the headrig, I realize that there is a reason for the seemingly excessive safety procedures required to go out. There is a reason we wear harnesses, that we have to check with a mate before and after laying on the headrig, and that we have to keep three points of contact at all times. When you're thrown under a six foot swell out there, you are thrown under six feet of ocean. One mintue you're standing in the air, the next you're looking at a wall of blue and white foam. My legs were pulled aft; my face was shoved into the headrig netting. I could literally feel my harness pulling me upwards, keeping me away from the hull of the ship. And as quickly as it came, it was gone. We were back above the sea, soaked, but still on the headrig. I remember turning, meeting Janders eyes, and seeing what could only have been reflected in my eyes: astonishment, surprise, adrenaline, and the unmistable twinkle that results from doing something increidbly fun.
It wasn't until after we finished the furl and were back on deck that I realized I was shaking. I was also smiling. Like I said before, you really cannot predict what is going to happen while sailing.
Brunswick, Maine


Total Pageviews

  © Free Blogger Templates Skyblue by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP