Emotional farewell at the port.
Tears are wiped away quickly by the fresh wind.
Hectic activity onboard redirects my attention:
Sails need to be launched! Where again was the halyard for the inner jib?
I can’t remember but someone tells me where it is.
Once the course is set everyone is assigned to one of two watch groups,
in a 50/50 mix of male and female.
The “Swedish” roster of 4/4/4/6/6 hrs begins, i.e. only one of the two groups will sleep at the same time.
Within days, everyone has now the chance to “enjoy” odd and less odd times on the deck.
The ensuing sleep deprivation can be quite daunting to the beginner,
in combination with bad weather, stirred up feelings, everything onboard is so different to the world onshore.
It really cracked me. But you’re never let down or pressured in this unique family where everyone looks out for the other.
For the first weeks of this winter trip, you never can have enough layers wrapped around you,
to prevent the cold from creeping in through feet, hands and face at night watch.
Just you may not fit through the tiny door of the toilet cubicle anymore which you will have to use sooner or later.
From time to time, the watch leader orders some adjustment of the braces or even a tack to optimize the course of the ship. This
gets us exercised and warmed up.
Why am I doing this? I don’t know. But I strongly feel this is the right thing to do for me.
I’m paid with unforgettable moments such as:
A bucket of seawater where I wash my hands at night in a sparkling flurry of fluorescent plankton,
Table-cloth sea surface near the Isle of Wight without any noise whatsoever,
Dolphins swimming next to us on a full-moon night,
Joyful ride on the waves under the sun near the Bretagne coast while I’m steering,
but most of all, a group of people with 100% mutual trust,
learning/teaching marlinspike seamanship on a 100-year old square-rigger.
I’d like to be with them for a longer time.
It is a privilege to be part of this completely different world, despite all the inconveniences.
Where life focuses on the essential, and the horizon is wide and far.
Michael, the Catweazle.