In the fall of 1998 I served for three months as a deckhand aboard the "HMS" Rose, the largest active wooden sailing ship in the world.
After losing my job and losing my girl, I jumped into my pickup truck and realized, "My life is WAY too similar to a country western song." I decided to spend the next three months as a deckhand, gruntiest of the grunts, aboard the "HMS" Rose. After three months of hard work and very little sleep I returned to civilization with a better attitude, a lot of cool pictures, and a strong desire to stay a "boring" office professional.
Thursday, 10/1/98 Bridgeport, CN
During Wednesday night's going away party I successfully warded off the jitters by drinking a lot of Guiness. Jitters is an understatement. Several days before I was sitting with Kim on FourPlay, talking about the next few months. Suddenly the enormity (at that time) of what I was about to do dawned on me and I ran to the head to throw up. And "a lot" of Guiness is an understatement, too. My first task Thursday morning was to clean up more puke. Then I showered and got ready only three hours after going to bed. Thanks to my room-mates Kelly and Carleen for finishing the cleaning job I had only started. Uh...sorry!
I flew out of Madison at 10:30 AM and landed in New York City four hours later. I jumped on the Connecticut limo to Bridgeport and took a cab to Captain's Cove. By the time I got there it was dark and there was no sign of the Rose. A worker at the Captain's Cove sandwich shop said the Rose was still in Port Jefferson waiting out the high winds. Now what!?!
I got a room at the local Holiday Inn. My previous life as a business traveler was on hold, but I was still a priority club member, making me eligible for a free van ride, drink ticket, a reduced rate, and breakfast. I was relieved to have one more night in a real bed after a tiring, hung-over day.
The Rose seems to be the centerpiece of a newly revitalized waterfront in Bridgeport. Models, plaques, and pictures of the Rose are all over town. Other than that it looked like a crummy place to live.
Friday, 10/2/98 Port Jefferson, NY
I got eleven hours of sleep, but the radical change in lifestyle left me exhausted by Friday night.
I had a huge breakfast and called the Rose office. She was in Bridgeport after all, but the night before she was over at the gas dock where I couldn't see her. I was told this was just as well, because the walk to the gas dock was through a sketchy neighborhood. The office said she was leaving at noon, so I hurriedly checked out and got in a cab.
When the cab pulled up to Captain's Cove it was a sunny day, and there was the Rose, right at the end of a dock. I neglected to snap a picture, but it remains very clear in my mind. She was huge! The dock was right at the waterline so I had to climb 13 feet up the side. There were several people working on deck, and the first person I spoke to was Jennifer, who showed me to C compartment (I would learn later that "C" was called "The Ghetto"). I also met Jenny, who helped me pick out my bunk and suggested I take my time moving in. I went to the 11:45 all-hands muster then it was time to get to work.
We pulled away from the dock a half hour later. To pivot the boat around they used the Avon, a motorized inflatable dingy, as a bow thruster. I'm sure this would have come in handy in the 1700's. Out on Long Island Sound I went aloft for the first time with Brook. I very carfully followed her up the ratlines to the mainsail yard, and with a deathgrip on the yard I stepped out on the footropes. She is a great teacher, full of patience, and it reminded me a lot of taking sailing lessons at Hoofers. We took the gaskets off the main topsail, but the wind didn't cooperate so we were told to gasket it back up. We motor-sailed to Port Jefferson under inner jib, fore topsail, and mizzen staysail.
In Port Jefferson we bent on the fore course, then we were stood down at 5:00 PM. My schedule was free until 8:00 the next morning, so I went off for a few beers at Billy's Tavern with Johel, Justin, Jenny, and Jessie. I bought a round to set a good first impression. When I got back to the boat I read the Rose manual cover to cover, past midnight.
Saturday, 10/3/98 Port Jefferson, NY
I drank coffee to help my studying, but when I finished reading around 1 AM, I couldn't get to sleep. I lay on my unfamiliar bunk for several hours brooding and digesting the manual's contents.
Wake up call was at 7:15. We had an excellent breakfast, washed up, and all-hands muster was at 8:00. We did some clean up and left for our public day sail at 9:00. There was an extremely light wind, so with our paying customers on board we crawled through Long Island Sound under inner jib, all foresails, main topgallant, main topsail, and main staysail.
After my morning coffee the height freaked me out just a little, and I developed the tell-tail trainee shake on the footropes. My left foot vibrated forward and back twelve inches at the pace of a sewing machine. Of course, this made everyone standing on the same footrope shake as well, but no one said anything about it. What calluses I had were already cracking, and I actually left some blood on the fore topsail clewline as we hauled on it.
After the daysail I was off again 'til the next morning, so I napped, read, showered, took a walk, made phone calls, and ate supper. I was awfully tired! I went to bed early with cramping biceps from the climbing and hauling.
Sunday, 10/4/98 Port Jefferson, NY
We were awakened at 7:45 and all hands met at the capstain at 8:30. Another public day sail was scheduled for 9:30.
We actually sailed right off the dock without starting the engines. With the wind blowing off the dock it was easy enough, but it seemed risky with such a large boat. There was a mooring field nearby as well, crowded with expensive yachts. One team kept a turn on the #4 dockline while another team set a head sail to pivot us away. While this was happening six people were aloft letting the square sails fall. I was impressed! When we got out on Long Island Sound there was slightly more wind and we sailed under inner jib, all fore sails, main topgallant, and main topsail.
The day sail was interesting. I was assigned an hour of boat check. This entailed acting as a roving safety inspector responsible for operating the pumps and checking for smoke or noxious fumes. I moved from boat check to an hour of bow watch, where I was responsible for reporting all vessels around the ship as well as floating debris and lobster pots. A really spoiled, bratty 10-year old with the classic New York accent really got on my nerves. He kept sitting on the gunwales and taking both feet off the deck no matter who spoke to him about it. Yep, the East Coast stereotype was coming true.
The band on my wrist-watch snapped when I was aloft, and it dropped all the way to the deck without my realizing it. Rose Tradition states that any crewmember who drops anything from aloft owes the crew a case of beer. When I climbed back down Erna made me incriminate myself by asking me what time it was! Some paying daysailers were in on it, and there was a lot of good-natured laughter.
After we got in there was a short work party. I painted the steps on the port side of the ship. This was the side away from the dock, so I had to paint the steps as I stood on and clung to them. It was very difficult and frustrating, especially since my hands and biceps kept cramping. One cramp at an inopportune time and I would either be covered in paint or swimming.
Then I read, showered, ate, and talked to Kim for about an hour. I went to bed at 9:30 feeling extremely tired and lonely. I concluded that although crewing on the Rose would be a positive experience, it definitely would not be a fun one.
Monday, 10/5/98 New York City
Wooden boats tend to leak a lot, and the Rose is no exception. So boat check is the one job that needs to be done 24 hours a day, including at the dock. My boat check was 3:30 AM to 5 AM. Christina paired up with me from 3:30 to 4 to train me, and I finished up. I barely remember it.
Wake-ups were at 7:15, and all-hands at 8:00. We motored down the East River and lowered the main topgallant mast so we could fit under the Brooklyn Bridge. It was really fascinating motoring along past Manhattan, my first time in New York since I was seven. The Able-Bodied Seaman of our watch (our "supervisor") was Deb, and I was paired up with her for my training. She showed me the ins and outs of bow watch, which was busy work in the heavy traffic of the East River. We saw the Statue of Liberty, a great sunset, and a spectacular moonrise.
After dark while on bow watch I was able to use what I learned while studying for the Coast Guard exam. Every vessel has lights designating what its purpose was. We passed tugboats pushing barges, tugboats towing barges, dredging boats, and freighters, each with its own light arrangement.
After dark we had to go aloft and furl the fore topgallant and I wierded out a little. The height and the darkness were frightening because I was never sure of what I could safely grab onto. Then we climbed down to the fore topsail yard and I really wierded out. My hands were tired enough from the last several days that I didn't trust them to hold on anymore. A very insecure feeling! While the rest of my watch finished the job I climbed back down and actually cried. At the end of our watch (at 8 PM) we assembled at the capstan. Tony asked if I was all right aloft so I explained my trouble. Justin told me that when he first started he held on much harder than was necessary out of anxiety, and this tired him out quickly. I decided that was my problem too. I also wasn't using my legs enough while climbing. I was using my arms too much to pull myself up. As we went below Jenny patted me on the back and said "It's OK Brian, we know you're strong."
Shit! When Tony called and offered me a job on the Rose he said this would be a lifestyle of extremes. He wasn't kidding! I was seeing big highs and even lower lows. I decided that night that the only thing keeping me on board was how I publicized and hyped my departure. It would have been embarrassing to return home already!
Tuesday, 10/6/98 Atlantic City, Delaware Bay
Up at 3:30 AM for 4 to 8 watch and my first time at the helm. We passed Atlantic City by night, then had a great sunrise. The wind filled in from behind and we had great sailing with a following sea. When watch was over I crashed.
I slept 9 to noon, interrupted by massive back pain. Since nothing else was available I prescribed 4 aspirin. Taking a double dose of aspirin was common for the next few days, so it's a good thing I never cut myself!
At 1:00 I had a line handling class with Tony, and minimal work until getting back on watch at 4 PM, heading up Delaware Bay.
I spent more time at the helm and going aloft was much easier. After sunset we caught up with another tall ship and exchanged cannon shots. The strange anachronism of these ships was accentuated by a brightly lit nuclear power plant on shore. We entered the C and D Canal near Baltimore while we were working on the main topsail yard. The view of this perfectly straight canal was awesome.
The lifestyle definitely wasn't for me, but at least Kim would be arriving soon to see what I was up to. The crew was opening up to me a little more, but breaking through the walls was slow going.
Wednesday, 10/7/98 Baltimore, MD
Watch started at 4 AM, and we arrived in Baltimore around 6 AM. We took the cold cereal option for breakfast and slept until 10 AM, missing Hancock's breakfast of bacon and eggs. I had lots of wierd dreams. One of them involved driving off a cliff, and I jumped awake moaning. In another dream we were hosting dinner on the Rose for 200. Somehow all 200 fit in the Great Cabin and I was serving them. Suddenly two of the tourists fell overboard and I crashed through the crowded dining area trying to help.
We were free until the 1:00 PM work party, so I mailed off a letter and read the local paper in a coffee shop.
For the afternoon work party I patched sails with Erna, then went to the South China Sea Trading Company with Deb to buy my marline spike. My boat check was 7 to 8 PM, then I watched the end of Shawshank Redemption on the VCR.
I walked to a payphone and had some trouble getting a hold of Kim, so I met some of the crew at the Cat's Eye pub. I made three trips from the bar to the payphone across the street, and when I finally got a hold of Kim I was a little shiny. For some reason there was still a lot of ice to break with my crewmates. I got to bed around midnight.
My planned three months of reading and writing aboard the Rose weren't working like I thought they would. I was always tired, and the best I could do at the end of the day were chicken scratchings.
Thursday, 10/8/98 Chesapeake Bay
Boat check was at 4 AM and I was a little hung over. I wrote a letter to my folks and did some laundry. At 5 AM I couldn't wake my relief up. Justin was still pretty drunk so I shined a flashlight in his face 'til he finally moved. I got back to sleep at 5:15.
Wake ups were at 7:15 and we left Baltimore just after 8. I didn't see it, but we passed a red, white, and blue buoy that marked where the Star Spangled Banner was written. I was really tired, but to my dismay I learned that after a day in port, and (theoretically) a full night's sleep, we divert from the usual watch schedule and have an all-day work party.
It was raining in the morning, and I scrubbed tires on deck. The Rose uses old tires as fenders and the Captain wanted them painted white. This plan was destined to fail and sure enough, it did. Whatever paint we used rubbed off the next time we docked. I worked with Christina and that's when our singing habit started. She knows almost as many 80's lyrics as I do. I'm sure our Duran Duran and Madonna singing brightened everyone's day!
Jessie, our Bosun, periodically gave a "knots, bends, and splices" class to trainees and new crewmembers. I attended that afternoon with Bernard, our one trainee (who insisted his name be pronounced "Buh-Nud)." Then in the afternoon we painted more tires in B compartment.
During the 4-8 PM watch we motored in the pouring rain. Justin was extremely hung over and he ended up puking over the side. When a big fog rolled in Tony pulled me off bow watch and assigned two "experienced" crew members to watch for other vessels. I understood that in his mind I was still an unknown quantity, but I was miffed anyway. It didn't matter that I was peering nervously into dense fog on Lake Michigan before some of these pups' voices had changed. I would have killed to see one of these pansy-assed coastal sailors in a Lake Michigan storm! I adopted Kim's philosophy about her residency, "GTAGTFO, Get Trained And Get The F- Out!"
Friday, 10/9/98 Chesapeake Bay, Cape Hatteras
The rain finally stopped for our 4 to 8 AM watch but we kept our foulies on because of threatening clouds. I went aloft alone and loosed the fore course. No problem.
I slept 8 to 10:30 AM then read a long chapter of Tom Clancy and wrote Kim. I took a look on deck and saw the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
For the 1 to 3:30 work party Justin and I cleaned out rotten bungs in the deck and filled the holes with sealant.
During 4-8 PM watch we saw dolphins and a whale. I was learning the lines well and building confidence.
After dinner I could feel the boat's motion change, with more rolling than I had experienced on the Rose. Expecting stronger winds the next morning I went to bed early.
Saturday, 10/10/98 Point Lookout
Morning watch was tough. It was hard to get up, and hard to stay awake. I can hardly remember it at all. I went back to sleep at 8:30 AM and slept right through to 11:30 AM. I dreamed I was a super hero and my brother and I were fighting a super villain. We were throwing cars, trucks, boulders, etc. at each other until I realized the three of us were invulnerable to everyday objects. So we pinched him with our super strong fingers instead.
For the work party I caulked the cabin house seam with Brook. There were many porpoises, and the engines were off all day. Beautiful sailing.
Evening watch was uneventful, but great sailing full-and-by. There was no going aloft and there were minimal sail adjustments. We had a beautiful sunset and beautiful, bright stars. It was such a beautiful evening that when our watch was relieved we stayed on deck for a while.
Sunday, 10/11/98 Frying Pan Shoals
The watches really started to blur. The whole day was spent with no land in sight, and with very few boats, mainly sport fishermen. While on helm just after sunrise Tony and I spotted a school of fish madly churning the surface. We altered course to drive through it, but we couldn't change course in time. During the work party I caulked bungs again with Jennifer and Bernard. Neither of them had done this before so I had to show them how. Wow! Responsibility!
While on watch in the evening I saw a school of flying fish and more dolphins in the bow wave. It struck me that maybe moments like this were why my crewmates spent an entire season in this living hell. Didn't they realize all you had to do was charter your own boat? Just before sunset I was on helm and we were passed by a Coast Guard buoy-tender. On the radio he said we "sure looked pretty against the sun." It occured to me that I wished I was on that bouy-tender, looking at the Rose and still believing it would be an amazing experience to sail on a tall ship. My elevated dream was rapidly becoming reality.
Monday, 10/12/98 Georgetown, SC
Morning watch was painful to get up for. We were ahead of schedule so we headed east to kill some time. The wind picked up so we set some sails. It typically takes six or more people to raise a halyard, but the four of us set the main topsail alone! We all left a little skin on the lines. After watch I slept 8:30 AM to 11:30.
There was no work party scheduled. Instead we started harbor stowing every square sail at 12:30 and got to the dock around 4. It was great being aloft while we pulled into the channel. You could see the dark muddy water of the river mixing with the clear blue ocean with a well-defined boundary between the waters. We were surrounded by fishing boats and pleasure craft. As we tied the boat up Janice fell in while putting chafe gear on the dock lines. It was hilarious, and she wasn't at all shy about her wet white t-shirt. There really is no privacy on the Rose.
I ran into town, about a 3 mile round trip, and got cash and mailed letters. When I got home we had dinner, and I walked with Erna to the International Mariner's Center to make some phone calls. The Mariner's Center is a building run by area churches. It has phones, a pool table, and bibles in seven languages. Back on the ship I had a beer and did some laundry before going to sleep.
Tuesday, 10/13/98 Georgetown, SC
Our watch had to get up at 4 AM to move the boat to a dock closer to town. I was on the helm while Bailley operated the throttles. Bailley's commands, "two turns to port," "one turn to starboard," etc., were painfully quiet. It was as if he was desperate for something to yell at me about so he communicated poorly on purpose. When we tied up I was on boat check until 6, then I slept 'til 8.
Work party was from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. I had to wire-lube the standing rigging WAY up! Justin tended the gantline while I sat in a bosun's chair and lubed the fore topgallant stay, the main topgallant stay (!), the main stay, and the mizzen stay. Lots of climbing! Today was a sort of turning point in my comfort level aloft. While I dangled in a chair from the main topgallant stay I was higher up than the clock tower, the highest structure in Georgetown. Tourists and locals congregated on the dock to watch.
I went out for pizza with Tony, Christina, Jennifer, Jessie, Justin, Jason, and Johel. We had a great time and later on we were kicked out of an extremely seedy bar that only served to "members." Apparently this was their way around requiring a liquor license. Hmmm...Then we had a few drinks at the Yacht Club.
The bars in South Carolina are hilarious. It is illegal to free-pour from liquor containers, so the "rail" is lined up with individual one-serving bottles like you'd find on an airplane. This example of Bible-belt "morality" is contrasted by the fact that it is legal to carry a concealed pistol, Strom Thurmond is still in office, and it's illegal to be anything but a Baptist. Oh yeah, and the Confederate flag, too. You lost! Get over it!
Wednesday, 10/14/98 Georgetown, Myrtle Beach
I left the Yacht Club and talked to Kim on the phone until 1 AM.
Today was our day off, so I got up at 8, had breakfast, and went back to sleep for another hour. Then I walked to a coffee shop and did some reading and writing, found the local library, and went through my 41 email messages. Lunch at Burger King hit the spot after being deprived of fast food for two weeks.
On the way back to the boat that afternoon I bumped into Jessie who had bad news. The Rose office got the message that my Grandpa had passed away. I had no time for the shock to settle in because the Rose (my home) was leaving Georgetown in 90 minutes. After hurried arrangements by payphone and brief good-byes, I was scheduled to fly to Madison out of Myrtle Beach at 6:15. It was 5:00.
It took some convincing to get the car rental company to give me a one-way rental, but they finally gave in and gave me their only available vehicle, a 10 passenger van. I sped to Myrtle Beach in a half hour and missed the flight by 5 minutes. Making the flight was a long shot, so I wasn't too upset. I got a room at Holiday Inn, ordered a pizza, and rented two movies. I stared out the hotel window at the Intra-Coastal Waterway as the shock finally settled in.
Thursday, 10/15/98 Myrtle Beach, SC Madison, WI
I slept in 'til roughly 9, took the shuttle, and got to the airport two hours early. The flight was uneventful except for the extremely small prop-driven airplanes. The Appalachians were beautiful from the air.
My parents, Ro and Dan met me at the Dane County Airport. I'm still not sure whether they liked my beard.
Saturday, 10/24/98 Madison, Fort Lauderdale
Kim and I woke up in Madison, and Danielle discretely drove us to the airport. There was still some secrecy involved because no one knew Kim and I were considering getting back together. It was actually quite a coincidence that Kim and I ended up on the same boat. I had applied on 10 to 15 boats, and I was hired by the Rose after Kim had already reserved a week as a trainee. Not 5 days after leaving for the Rose, I was called by the Bounty for a similar position.
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at roughly 5:30 PM and cabbed to the Mariott Hotel. We went for a walk past extremely large yachts, and saw the Rose in the distance at Pier 4. After sunset we walked over to the Rose but stayed hidden lest we be put to work. Under cover of darkness we actually peeked around the pillars of the convention center. For some reason I felt guilty staying in a hotel when my crewmembers were working. But I hadn't "officially" returned yet.
We had dinner at the Bimini Bar and Grill, two lobsters, conch chowder, and salad. Then we had a nice evening of hot tub, wine, and a movie. I had butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of abusing myself the following two months.
Sunday, 10/25/98 Fort Lauderdale, FL
We woke up, had the breakfast buffet, and walked to pier 4 with Kim's heavy baggage. But when we got there we discovered the Rose had moved in the night to Pier 22!! I wanted to call a cab, but Kim very stubbornly insisted on walking the whole way. We each took a handle of the duffel and dangled it between us.
We arrived just as the boat was leaving for a day sail. Since I was not assigned to a watch and Kim was a day early we were told to stay out of the way as the ship got underway. There were high winds and large seas and the Captain's plan was to take the tourists out, let them throw up, and come back in. While we were out we sailed under main staysail and main topsail. The crew had lunch down below. Kim and I were taught to put wet paper towels under our plates, which kept the plates from sliding back and forth across the table. Four guests puked and not long after the group voted to head in early.
There was a strong wind blowing us away from the dock, so landing the ship was tricky. Craig and I swung across on the whips to catch dock lines, then we ran with the big heavy lines as the Rose motored parallel to the dock. When it was time to stop we cinched up the lines quickly.
Kim, Eben, and I took a cab to the liquor store so I could pay my case of beer "debt" from almost a month before. When we returned I had an early evening boat check. I had to climb to the top of the main topgallant mast to free up our pennant. It was another world up there, with very strong winds and a tiny Kim looking up from below. I had to stop and rest my arms three times on the way down because as usual, I had a death grip on the ratlines. Afterwards, Kim, Jenny, Jessie, and I went to Burt and Jack's restaurant for dessert. Jessie and I had to borrow jackets from the establishment. "Oh, you must be off the boat" was their reaction.
Monday, 10/26/98 Fort Lauderdale, Miami
We headed out in the morning. The wind was 35 out of the east, and the Rose rigging was too much windage to manouver well in the harbor. Her engines weren't strong enough to turn us head to wind and get us out of the channel. After several unsuccessfull attempts we set the spanker, which pushed the stern downwind just long enough to get the bow into the wind, then we struck it immediately. I couldn't believe how calm people were considering how out of control we were.
It was a pleasant sail, but with lots of rolling. Kim was the only trainee out of four who didn't puke.
We didn't have any boat work, just safety drills. I was now assigned to B Watch with Craig, Erna, Meghan, and Christina. Kim was the trainee assigned to me, and I still owe Christina for the strings she pulled.
We arrived in Miami around 4:00 PM, then Kim, Johel, and I took the Avon over to Bayside. We had wings and beer at Hooters then started walking north on Bayside Avenue.
I asked at a hotel where the beach was, and the woman answered "It's just over the bridge." Now doesn't that make it seem close? Within walking distance maybe? We made the mistake of walking the causeway to South Beach. Miserable walk! There was no sidewalk and a 55 mph speed limit for three miles. We had to walk the median the whole way with no chance to hail a cab. We passed an accident scene with a draped dead body, got rained on, then finally hailed a cab when we got to an intersection. We had dinner at the News Cafe, waded in the ocean, and cabbed home. Kim and I slept half an hour, then did a boat check from 11 to 12.
Tuesday, 10/27/98 Miami, FL
We had a day long work party. I caulked the deck above the Captain's cabin with Janice, Meghan, and Jeremy. The deck had been leaking on him whenever it rained or we did a deck wash, and this was making him especially ornery. Kim rowed the Thorne around and sailed on the Spirit of Miami.
We finished working around 6:00 and I went back to Bayside with Kim. This time Jason and his father gave us a ride over the bridge. Kim and I had dinner together, shopped, gauked at a beautiful wooden ketch in the marina, and cabbed back. We finished up the day playing Trivial Pursuit with Johel, Jeremy, Willie, and Craig.
Wednesday, 10/28/98 Miami, Gun Key, Bahamas
Wake-ups were at 7:15, Hancock served us breakfast, and the Rose departed for Gun Key. Our watch rotated to 8 to 12. We had lunch immediately after watch then went straight into boat work. Christina and I wire-lubed the main mast rigging until I got a little seasick, so I climbed back down and stared at the horizon for a while. When Christina finished up I put linseed oil on the port quarterdeck pinrail. Kim sat with the trainees in a line-handling class.
We dropped anchor at Gun Key immediately after dinner. Kim and I did a boat check and anchor watch while playing Trivial Pursuit with Brook, Willy, and Johel. It was a pretty evening at anchor, with pretty water in the floodlights.
Thursday, 10/29/98 Gun Key, Bahamas
Wake ups were at 7:15 and I was extremely tired! From 9 to 12 I tarred with Christina while Kim rowed to the beach with the trainees. Our hospitable Captain had the four trainees parked on a sand bar with a cooler full of ice water for four hours. That, of course, freed us up for a morning work party, followed by an afternoon off.
Kim didn't find much on the island and we were both tired and cranky so for the afternoon we just hung out on the boat, took some pictures, and took a nap. The bulk of the crew went ashore to swim. We didn't understand why we would bother stopping at an uninhabited island. People were actually excited to go ashore to this featureless sand bar! I wanted very badly to get away from the crew for a while, but there was nowhere to go. Luckily the coming month would bring an improvement to my attitude, and I would enjoy Gun Key a month later.
The Space Shuttle took off with John Glenn, and a few crew members claimed to see the plume. I never saw it.
After bringing the Thorne and the Avon back on board we had supper. Then Kim and I each had a beer on the monkey deck (shhhh..., no bottles allowed on deck) and started our boat check. Then they played the Peking video and we went to bed early. We were to get an early start tomorrow.
Friday, 10/30/98 Gun Key, Miami
Wake-ups were at 4 AM, and it was time to raise the anchor-by hand. It took the entire crew to raise the anchor, three people to a bar walking around the capstain. It wasn't as strenuous as I thought it would be, but it did take an hour before we could go back to bed.
I dreamt we were raising the anchor again. Tony asked me to do something but I couldn't hear him. Instead of asking him to repeat himself I decided to fake it. The confusion grew as a storm blew in, the anchor rode wrapped itself around the keel, and a half-ton yard fell to the deck. It was somehow all my fault, and Craig grabbed me around the neck and yelled at me for being drunk on duty. Just before I woke up I was pleading my case saying I wasn't drunk, only very confused.
We were awakened at 7:15 for our 8-12 watch. There was much less wind, and it was a pleasant day. In the afternoon I was tarring aloft while Kim had a navigation class. Then the entire crew spent an hour or more furling every sail. Kim helped on the main topsail and the fore course while I looked on proudly from the fore topsail yard.
We pulled into Miami (again!) around 5 PM, and Kim and I got a ride to the Hyatt. For the sake of the crew, we called our evening off the boat "Pizza and Pornos night." We had a nice dinner and went to bed early.
Saturday, 10/31/98 Miami, FL
Saturday morning came in my favorite fashion - black coffee in bed. Then Kim and I cabbed to the Rose for an 8:00 muster I didn't need to go to! There was a communication mix-up and we could have slept another two hours. Kim continued on in the cab to the rental car desk at the airport.
We had another public daysail scheduled from 10:30 to 4. Kim stayed in Miami running errands with her rental car. I did "up and overs," which involved taking passengers aloft for the experience. I had two very frightened people, and I could tell it was a big accomplishment for them to look down white-knuckled from the fighting top. I had a run-in with Hancock the cook when I wanted to give dry bread to a seasick guest. He feels he needs absolute control over the galley, and he is typically a jerk about it. He has been cook on the Rose for 6 years, obviously too long.
When the daysail was over it was time to prepare our Halloween costumes. Kim drove a group of us to K-Mart for supplies. I went as Mr. T and Kim went as a Hee Haw girl, complete with missing teeth. We had gator for supper supplied by Joe Maggio, the owner of "Heritage of Miami."
The Halloween party was a crazy time. Lots of drinking was involved and the capstain dance was a popular event. Christina and Deb danced together on the Capstain as it was rotated for a retro, go-go feel. Kim and I introduced the crew to Marching Band songs that night. I had been relatively quiet up to this point on the Rose, so when Kim and I tore into "Charlotte the Harlot" I think people were a little shocked. To this day I am still occasionally asked to repeat lyrics.
Sunday, 11/1/98 Miami, FL
We were still partying Sunday morning. Meghan had a lot to drink and ended up needing a baby sitter. Of course, I wasn't much better. Kim and I left the boat around 2 AM and went back to the Hyatt. I got sick, then we ordered a pizza at 3:30 AM.
We got up at 7 AM and had a quick cup of coffee. Kim and I returned to the boat and did our boat check from 8 to 10:30 AM. We were exhausted but it was interesting listening to stories from the night before.
At 10:30 I rode with Kim to Fort Lauderdale in the rental car. Kim and I said goodbye in the airport and it was odd saying goodbye for an entire month and a half. After her plane took off I went to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. I took a water taxi to Bahia Mar for the show, and the Intra-coastal Waterway was packed with every imaginable pleasure craft. I couldn't believe the insanely expensive yachts. One yacht had a $13 million price tag on it. It was a huge multi-hull power boat complete with a heli-pad.
I drove back to the Miami airport, dropped off the car and cabbed to the Rose. I showered, ate, and crashed at 7:30 PM. Then I did a boat check 9:30 to 11 PM and walked a block to the payphone to call Kim.
Monday, 11/2/98 Miami, FL
I waited for Jeremy to get off the one phone until 12:30 AM! I was sitting right there and it was obvious I was waiting, but he made no effort to shorten his talk. I was tired and getting really annoyed. Kim and I talked 'til 1:00 AM and I went to bed.
We were awakened at 7:30, had breakfast, and spent lots of time standing around before leaving the dock at 10. We motored out into the gulf stream and "sailed" south while drifting north. The wind wasn't adequate, but we had to give the trainees a sailing experience. Our watch was rotated to 12 to 4, the hell watch. We had safety drills during our watch, then I napped 4 to 6 and woke up to get some personal stuff done. I wrote a letter, read a chapter of Kipling, and exercised. I tried to sleep 8 to 12, but really only fell asleep at 10. It was a beautiful, warm, full-moon night. Wake-ups at 11:30 PM were painful.
Tuesday, 11/3/98 Miami, FL
We started our 12 to 4 AM watch by striking every sail, which was difficult on the hands. While at the helm I had a great talk with Craig, the mate of our watch, about his experiences on an oil rig supply boat in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently one of his crewmates kept a coffee can in his cabin for late-night peeing. It wasn't the best environment, and he was happy to be on the Rose. We were still just aimlessly wandering in the gulf stream. We opted to skip breakfast, so at 4:00 we had cold cereal and slept 4:30 to 11 AM.
Lunch was at 11:30 and we started our 12 to 4 PM watch. I was on standby for an hour during our watch, so I did some scraping and sanding of the cap rails. We set every sail for a picturesque arrival in Miami, then struck them again when we got to the channel. It seemed like so much work for something so trivial. In the channel a motor yacht passed us and a beautiful woman dressed only in a thong waved to us, jumping up and down. I love Miami! We tied up the boat and did a sea stow of all sails.
When we got to the dock Captain Bailley left for an ASTA conference, and Andy Ray-Ellers took over as the Relief Captain. Meghan and I went running about 3 miles, then we swam in the pool reserved for cruise ship crew. After dinner everyone headed to Tobacco Road, and Ralph the trainee bought the first couple rounds.
Wednesday, 11/4/98 Miami, FL
I made it back from Tobacco Road for my 1 to 2 AM boat check. I slept 2 to 6, then the entire crew was awakened. I was not at all happy about this surprise wake up. Was Relief Captain Andy trying to make a name for himself? Nope, Hurricane Mitch, now downgraded to a tropical storm, was headed for Florida and we were going to try to get lucky and make it to Key West first. Well, we didn't.
Once we were underway we started another day-long work party. Jason and I bent on a new inner jib. We were out on the bowsprit in large-ish seas, so it was a real pain in the ass. I got a little queasy but I was more tired and cranky than anything else.
Our 12 to 4 PM watch was uneventful as we motorsailed south into building winds. I went to sleep immediately after watch to conserve energy, expecting our next watch to be eventful. There was lots of heeling and rolling during dinner, and I poked my head up to see an incredible light show. There was constant lightning ahead and the wind was still building. I went below again to sleep and conserve energy.
Around 8:30 PM I felt us change tack, and everything that wasn't tied down well went crashing to leeward. Apparently we were headed back to Miami. I got up and secured things in dry storage, then went up to the gun deck to help tend buckets and mops. The deck was leaking profusely, and I laughed to see the futile exercise of mopping and catching water in the buckets while the boat rolled violently. I also noticed that with our extreme angle of heel the wooden hull distorted enough that doors to storage areas wouldn't close. I tried to get back to sleep, but really just lay there with my eyes closed, conserving what energy I could. Considering what was happening on deck it was really quite peaceful down below. Sure, anything wooden was creaking and groaning, the bilge water was cascading to and fro, the deck was leaking rain water into my bunk, and my head wouldn't hold still on the pillow, but with the lights off and my miniature fan going my bunk wasn't so bad.
Wake ups for our watch were at 11:30 PM.
Thursday, 11/5/98 Miami, FL
At midnight it was blowing 35 with 8 to 12 foot waves. I learned that when we turned around the night before it was blowing 45 on the nose and we were no longer making headway against the Gulf Stream.
It was difficult to steer through the big following seas. Christina and I each had double-duty on the helm. When Erna was stationed at the helm it was my job to help her control the kicking wheel. The lack of sleep over the last several days was starting to add up and I was extremely tired. An occasional squall would blow through and it would blow 40 and rain HARD! It was interesting how well the squalls showed up on the radar.
It was a great feeling to get behind the breakwall in Miami. Unfortunately Captain Andy was mis-informed about the location of a turning basin and we ran hard aground in the harbor. One hasn't lived until they've spent two early morning hours exhausted and shivering in the rain with land only three hundred yards off, and powerless to reach it with a big storm on the way. We couldn't find anyone to get us off, but luckily we were in the way of a freighter coming in. One of the tugs broke off from the freighter and pulled us off. We were obviously hard aground. On the tug's first attempt they snapped their 3" hawser. We finally found a dock, tied up, and went to bed at 6 AM.
After 11:30 wake-ups it was back to work. We ate lunch and I started on boat check. I borrowed a pipe fitting from a nearby tug boat and filled the Rose water tank. We had a little work party but we were each given a few hours off. Mitch made big headlines when it hit Florida, so I called Mom and Kim to allay any fears. For work party I helped bend on a replacement fore staysail, the original having blown out the night before.
We left the dock again for Key West at 4:30 PM. While leaving the channel "B Watch" put a double reef in the fore topsail. We had a great view of a geat sunset, but boy was I tired!! I tried to go to sleep after dinner, but Hancock's piss-poor attitude grated on me and I got insomnia again!! I just lay there thinking what a jerk he was. I slept roughly 9 to 11:30 PM.
Friday, 11/6/98 Straits of Florida
12 to 4 AM watch was tiring but it was beautiful sailing! We were broad reaching with a 10 foot following swell (from Mitch, now off in the Atlantic). We flew the inner jib, fore course, single-reefed fore topsail, main staysail, main topmast staysail, main topsail, and mizzen staysail. The night was clear and the moon was incredibly bright. Awesome! The only drawback was the cold (long pants and a jacket in Miami!?!). When Erna handed off boat check to me she said A compartment was pumping very slowly. I had to pump A compartment the whole hour, sacrificing dryness in the other compartments. After watch I slept well until 11:30 AM.
For afternoon watch I started on boat check and the bilge situation was alarming. The boat was working hard and A was still pumping too slow. When the water level in A was knee deep above the floorboards I fixed the problem by mummifying the windward bilge pump inlet in duct tape. This stopped the air leak that had been plaguing A compartment for a while, and the leeward inlet was able to suck water efficiently. A was dry in no time. We saw several dolphins, and we passed Marathon. This was beginning to be familiar territory to me.
After watch we stowed the topgallants and the mizzen staysail. Then dinner, some writing, and time for bed!
Saturday, 11/7/98 Key West, FL
Morning watch was uneventful, but steering was a little challenging, and extremely tiring. At the end of the watch the Key West lights beckoned, but we turned back to wait until daylight. Of everyone on board I was probably the most familiar with these waters, and my warning of the confusing lights of the south channel MAY have contributed to that decision, but what the hell do I know? As usual we had cold cereal at 4 AM and went right to bed, missing "official" breakfast at 7:30.
We were awakened at 8:00 to help land at the Key West Coast Guard Station. I was assigned to roving fender again, which was starting to grate on my nerves. I wanted to swing across like I did in Ft. Lauderdale, or throw a dock line, or do anything that would break the monotony, but everyone on board was "turfy" about their jobs. After we landed Captain Bailley came back aboard (aaaaaugh!) and we cleaned, topped off the water, and waited for the daysailors to arrive. They finally arrived by Conch Train! It was an honor to be involved in an operation that involved a Key West fixture like the Conch Train.
The day sail was pleasant and we were actually rotated down for some sleep. We sailed out the North Channel and back, and we landed right at Mallory Dock right in the middle of the pre-sunset celebration. Craig swung out to catch dock lines, and missed the dock. Luckily I caught him on his return swing, to applause from the crowd. A street entertainer was right at the end of our gangway balancing strange objects on his chin. One of the objects was a full-sized kitchen oven.
After we were tied up Andy decided we should fire a cannon and drop both pennants at precisely sunset. It was a 5-man operation, one for each halyard and two for the cannon. I would have rather stared at the sunset and reflected on life, but instead I waited patiently at the flag halyard and reflected on the fact that I was 29 years old for Christ's sake!
After the oh-so-choreographed event I ran off and bought two trays of overpriced conch fritters from a street vender and passed them out to the crew.
After dinner I helped host a cocktail party sponsored by Florida Recycles. Florida Recycles appears to be a total crock funded mainly by plastics manufacturers who's philosophy is, "Buy plastics, then somebody somewhere will recycle them when you're through with them. But don't buy recycled plastic 'cause we don't make that!" Then I called my parents and attempted to call Kim. There was a Parrot Head convention going on, and Jimmy Buffet was performing on the street. I missed the performance, but during the cocktail party I heard "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?" drifting through the buildings.
After the cocktail party I went walking alone. I went to Captain Tony's, bought a Pirate's Punch, and sipped it while I walked around the Galleon Marina ogling boats. One of the best things about Key West is you can walk all over town with open intoxicants. I finally got to bed around 11.
Sunday, 11/8/98 Key West
I had boat check from 1 to 2 AM . When it was over I couldn't wake Brook (my relief) because she was drunk. On the third attempt I used the proven flashlight-in-the-face method and WHOA!...Her boyfriend Willie (the Engineer) was completely asleep naked on his back. Well, at least she woke up. I got to bed at 2:30.
We had breakfast at 8, cleaned up the boat then conducted tours 10 to 12.
At noon I wandered around town with Meghan. We rented bikes and rode around Key West, gauking at the hurricane damage from months before along with the more recent damage from Mitch. Houseboat row was a sad sight. Then we had a slice of Key Lime Pie and Meghan took off for her boat check. I met Johel and Jenny at Captain Tony's. We drank the afternoon away listening to live music then hiked back to the boat to pick up a group for dinner. People seemed to like my Turtle Kraal's idea. For some reason Matt, our second mate, decided to wear a sarong all evening.
The walk to Turtle Kraal's set the tone for the evening. I took a wrong turn and all eight of us had to climb a fence in a dark alley. It was the fourth time in 5 years that I made that wrong turn! But at least we got to see the Whalen mural just beyond the alley. Our group consisted of Ben, Deb, Jenny, Johel, Matt, and Eben. If the Halloween craziness broke the ice with the crew, this uproarious drunken time broke another layer off. No subject was sacred, and although we bothered some of the other patrons, I did note that there was another equally tasteless table a few down from ours. Then we were off to Captain Tony's, then the Bull, and several others. The bar on the roof of the Bull is clothing optional, so Jenny took off her top. I felt a stab of anxiety and thought, "What if this is the wrong bar?" Finally I took off my shirt just to make her feel better. Incidentally, no one else there had any clothing off. I think the whole point of their clothing optional policy was for tanning during the day. All the same, no one looked twice. I love Key West!
Monday, 11/9/98 Key West, FL
We went to a few more bars at 12 AM, then I broke from the group, returned my rental bike, and called Kim. It occurred to me that in my drunken state, the way I lay on my back under the payphone while talking could possibly attract the attention of police. So I sat up. I slept very well that night.
The next morning a rumor was circulating that Jeremy was hauled off by the police last night. It turned out to be true! He did some damage to a urinal at the Hog's Breath Saloon then resisted arrest when the police came to the Rose. He was reported to have cried out, "You're messing with Maritime Law!" I remember Sunday morning he had muttered something about buying a bottle of Tequila and drinking it all afternoon on the beach. But when people talk like that they don't actually do it...do they?
We left the dock without Jeremy, but as we headed out the Southeast Channel he radioed and we sent the Avon back for him. When the Avon returned and pulled up alongside the motor bracket broke and the outboard motor sank to the bottom. We anchored the Rose just outside the main shipping channel and Jeremy, Craig, and Andy dove for it to no avail. Then up anchor, safety drills, an introduction to our trainees, and back into watches (now 4 to 8). My trainees for this week were Kyle and Matt, two 14 year old "angels."
That night I had a rewarding climb with Matt up to the main topgallant yard. It was raining lightly and very dark, and I could tell he was a little scared. But he trusted me and he listened to me coach him on the climb. It seems young kids are fearless.
I was especially tired from the past few nights, and I was glad to hear we had to put in some overtime. After our watch was over we spent an hour putting a sea stow into the sails. Christina and I commiserated, which made it go by a little faster.
Tuesday, 11/10/98 Dry Tortugas
In the night we gybed out into the Gulf Stream. Wind countered current, which made for a leaky boat and sick trainees. A-compartment sprung a major leak, and you could hear seawater gushing in between the hull planks like a geyser under the floor boards. But the pumps kept ahead if we dedicated them to A compartment 50% of the time. I found we could keep the bilges dry if we pumped A for 10 minutes, then another compartment for 10 minutes, then back to A, etc. The pump was running 100% of the time. On the bright side, A compartment was where the kids were quartered, and there was a lot of puke on the floor. When the water got over the floorboards and sloshed side-to-side it was like an automatic mop. Our 4-8 AM involved a lot of pumping, and it was difficult to steer. We were relieved at 8:00 with Garden Key in sight, just as a rain squall hit.
Just after breakfast one of the kids had a seizure. He had had seizures as a toddler, but this minor fact didn't appear on any of his paper work. Seasickness, exhaustion, and unfamiliar surroundings can add up to a lot of stress.
All hands at 10 AM to set the anchor!?! Christina and I, disgusted, slept on the deck while the 4 people necessary for the job anchored. We sent Erna and a chaperone off in a Park Service boat to call the kid's family physician. He took a seaplane out not much later with another trainee (the kid's History teacher) who was looking for a reason to get off the boat after a not-so-pleasant evening. Then we rowed the Thorne in, explored and swam near Fort Jefferson, and rowed back out. Then sail repair, boat check, hull patching, and dinner. Our whole watch did dishes under Christina's supervision, and we all went to bed at 9.
Wednesday, 11/11/98 Dry Tortugas
I had boat check from 7 to 8 with Kyle and Matt, my trainees. Then we had breakfast, a deck wash, and all hands on deck to raise the anchor. We had some down time 'til lunch. For the work party I spent the afternoon bending on the newly-patched fore topsail.
4 to 8 PM watch was fun. There were lots of dolphins and steering was easy. Both trainees caught on well and they were a big help. But 7 to 8 bow watch got a little tiresome. There were too many young trainees telling too many dirty jokes. OF COURSE I have no problem with dirty jokes, but I was unsure of the role of "adult moral role model." The kids were also getting well-rested and comfortable with their surroundings - a dangerous combination. Maybe they aren't angels after all.
Lots of dishes again, then a little journal writing, and in bed by 9:30.
Thursday, 11/12/98 Gulf of Mexico
4 to 8 AM watch was uneventful, but from 12 to 4 I kept dreaming I had taken a nap during boat check and needed to get up right away. My body was still in hell watch, and I hadn't adjusted yet to 4 to 8. Kyle and Matt were good steerers so we split the helm 20 minutes each. Then a deck washdown, breakfast, and back to bed by 9 AM.
I only slept until 10, then I took a shower, wrote in my journal, and read Kipling. After lunch I read some more, then it was time for the afternoon work party.
Tarring! I had to tar the main backstay, but the moderate seas had me swinging all over on the bosun's chair. I dripped some tar on the brand new mizzen staysail. Oops! Why do they make us tar aloft in seas anyway? Swinging back and forth in a bosun's chair for two hours while working sucks.
It was getting very difficult to keep track of Kyle and Matt. They have lots of energy! But I kept 'em talking and that seemed to work. We did dishes after watch, then went to bed.
Friday, 11/13/98 Tampa
When we awoke at 3:30 AM we were headed into the Tampa Bay shipping channel. Our trainees weren't allowed to steer because we were steering by markers and around traffic. So I steered and they watched.
I finally figured out the kids on our watch: to keep them calm just talk about school. They love to complain about the lunch lady, certain teachers, and school in general. While they complain they tend not to hit each other or damage equipment.
Going under the Tampa Bay Bridge was beautiful. At 6:30 AM we went past the St. Petersberg marina and gave the Bounty a loud broadside! It must have woken up the whole city. We got back to bed at 8 AM.
We were all awakened at 10 for sail handling. We rendezvoused with the Bounty and sailed together into Tampa Bay. Media boats and choppers were everywhere. It was fun handling sails up close to the Bounty, trying to be as precise and crisp as possible. I had an amazing view from the mizzen topsail of a freighter going by. Two dolphins were leaping in tandem in the bow wave. But...I didn't have my camera.
We tied up in Tampa and Willy got ready to replenish our water supply from a fire hydrant. He opened it up full blast to bleed off the stale water, and we played in the high pressure stream. It was a lot of fun, and it felt incredibly clean after several days at sea.
I had a nice talk with the young trainees on the dock. They ordered pizzas and stayed ashore for fear of Hancock, our less-than-friendly cook. Their consensus was that I should become a camp counselor after I was done sailing! We really got along and I could still get them to behave when they needed to. I hate kids less now than I did in the past.
There was a beautiful sunset, and after dinner we all went to the "Blues Ship" in Ibor City for Jessie's farewell. Ibor City is a wild place! The bar scene on every weekend is similar to State Street during Halloween. I was really tired so Erna, Meghan, and I left early.
Saturday, 11/14/98 Tampa, FL
I slept in until 8 AM then took a tour of the Florida Aquarium. One of our trainees, Deanna, founded the aquarium so we got a behind the scenes tour as well. Then goodbye to my "little angel" trainees.
Our watch had Saturday off, so Meghan and I walked to the public library. As we left, we could see that Rose tours being conducted were becoming a madhouse. There was a local radio station broadcasting from the end of our gangway, and there was a long line waiting to get on board.
I spent a couple of hours in the library checking email, and I called Kim, my parents, and my Grandma.
After dinner I went to a movie theater and saw Ronin with Deb, Craig, and Jenny. It was a $20 cab ride across town, but we were served pizza and beer as we watched the movie. When we got home I went to bed at 9.
Sunday, 11/15/98 Tampa, FL
Meghan woke me up for my 4 AM to 5:40 boat check. In between pumping I folded my laundry, wrote letters, and updated my journal.
We were awakened at 7:15 to prepare for a daysail from 10 to 4. It was great sailing with an entourage of pleasure boats and I took several timid guests aloft. I also got to call the fore topsail halyard ("haul away the halyard," "hold the halyard," "drop the line," etc.).
Then we did a quick deck wash and I helped Johel prepare dinner. After dinner we went out to a fun bar with a great swing band. Jenny is a good swing dancer, and Brook and Deb were anxious to learn. My swinging was interrupted by boat check from 10:30 to 11:30 PM, but I went back out.
Monday, 11/16/98 Tampa, Gulf of Mexico
I came back to the bar with Meghan and we danced 'til 1 AM. Meghan is a great swing dancer and some dressed-up "swing fanatics" complimented us on our moves. This despite the fact that she kept slipping out of my sweaty hands. I dropped her repeatedly and we were once thrown to our backs in opposite directions. Maybe it looked intentional?
Wake ups were at 7:15 and we prepared the boat for departure. We did dishes, ran some safety drills, and we rotated back to hell watch!
Unfortunately Hell Watch was now given a more sinister face. The early sunset meant 12-4 watch was assigned to morning work party 8 to 11:30, which meant no real solid sleep: On watch 12 AM to 4 AM, sleep three hours, eat breakfast, work 8 to 11:30, on watch 12 to 4 PM, sleep 3 hours, eat supper, sleep 3 1/2 hours. After 4 PM we put in a little overtime. We waited to set square sails once we made the turn south from the Tampa Bay channel. Then to sleep!
Tuesday, 11/17/98 Gulf of Mexico
We had an awesome view of the Leonid meteor shower for 12-4 AM watch! I have never seen anything like it. Many of the meteors were behind a prominent cloud, and for a long time we mistook it for a lightning storm. Eventually the sky cleared up, and they were almost constant. One meteor started out white, then green, then bluer and brighter until the entire boat was lit up. It was frightening but I heard myself yelling, "Go baby, Go baby, Go!" It left a vapor trail that hung in the moonlight for 20 minutes.
We slept 4 to 7:15 AM, then it was time for breakfast and morning work party. The ocean was glass and we moved 0.9 miles in 4 hours. I painted the gray hatch covers with Erna.
For 12 to 4 PM watch we still weren't moving, so we pulled the helmsman and the bow watch and the work party continued. At 5 PM I patched my shorts and did some reading. I fell asleep at 7.
Wednesday, 11/18/98 Naples, FL
12 to 4 AM watch was extremely difficult to get up for. We had light winds and we were just off Naples, so we hove to and put a harbor furl in the fore topgallant. It was very peaceful and clear and we had a beautiful view. I was tired but so caffeined-up that during my bow watch hour I designed a sailing freighter, cruise ship, and car ferry very vividly in my mind.
We slept 4 to 8, then got up for breakfast. We anchored off Naples, and it was time for morning work party. I bondo-ed a rotted section of the #2 hatch, and without Jessie aboard I was able to "use my brain" with very little "supervision" - this was a turning point for me, and my attitude started to improve. The morning work party was briefly interrupted as we hosted Naples VIP's and TV crews. Then we took a quick swim and got back to painting. We were completely surrounded by circling pleasure boats, and the local Sheriff boat came up to asked if we had any security needs. I think it was a slow day for him and he wanted a good look at the Rose.
During dinner we fired all our cannons at sunset. There was quite a crowd on shore who had gathered to appreciate it, and a tour boat hovered nearby with Captain Bailley aboard. Then we launched the Avon and Craig picked Bailley up. We raised the anchor, got the boat going, then time for bed.
Thursday, 11/19/98 Key West, FL
During the 12 to 4 watch we motored along very fast. While I was on bow watch Meghan made me a cup of strong tea which I promptly threw up over the side. My hell watch caffeine binge was getting a little out of hand. Despite my overdose I had no problem getting to bed at 4.
For work party I worked with Craig on the mizzen topsail yard foot rope. We got into Key West at the end of our afternoon watch. I was unbending the ripped main topgallant sail with Craig and Jason just as we pulled into the old Navy base. The yard wasn't completely in its lifts, so it was free to cant several feet from side to side, sort of like a 100 foot high teeter-totter. What a way to arrive! We were higher up than the paragliders and level with the main deck of some of the cruise ships. While we worked I looked down at the tiny crew scurrying with dock lines. I had the strangest sensation that "that boat down there" was docking and I wasn't on it.
We had dinner on the boat and headed out to the Green Parrot. I got really tired around 11:00 so I went to Taco Bell for a fast food fix, called Kim, and went to bed around midnight.
Friday, 11/20/98 Key West, FL
I got back to the boat just after midnight. It was an awfully long walk out to the end of the Navy base breakwater. I was extremely tired, but I looked at the schedule and saw I had boat check from 3 to 4 AM!
The sleep depravation continues! Breakfast at 8:00 then more work party. I touched up a ding in the yellow paint on the hull, then helped scrub the entire port side of the ship.
We were done with work party early at 4 PM, so I had time for a nap, laundry, a shower, and mailing letters. I had dinner at Pepe's with Erna, Craig, Ben, Deb, Jeremy, and Meghan. Then we went to the Schooner Wharf Pub for one drink. There was a great swing band playing, but God I was tired. I called Kim and made it back just in time for my midnight boat check.
Saturday, 11/21/98 Straits of Florida
I started Saturday with a boat check from 12 to 1 AM. Matt and I dumped the boat's trash in a nearby dumpster "stealthily."
Wake ups were at 7:15. Our watch was rotated again to 4 to 8, so I was hopeful I'd start sleeping more. All hands on deck for getting underway at 8:00.
For morning work party I set up the mizzen topsail yard starboard foot rope in A compartment. We tarred and parceled the foot rope. For afternoon work party I went aloft with Craig and unbent the port main topsail yard foot rope. I got a little queasy aloft underway, but Jeremy got some good pictures.
4 to 8 PM watch went by quickly. I talked a lot with my new trainees, Susan and Tom. We were motorsailing dead into the wind with six staysails up, and this time the gulf stream was helping us along at 7 knots. I went to bed immediately after dinner and slept hard.
Sunday, 11/22/98 Straits of Florida, Gulf Stream
We were awakened at 3:30 AM for morning watch. We were in the Gulf Stream with an opposing wind, so I got a littly queasy again. Watch absolutely dragged by because everyone was tired, but I had gotten seven solid hours of sleep!!!! Towards the end of watch we washed down the deck, had breakfast, and I hit the sack again for 3 hours!!!
I got up at 11:30 AM, wrote for a while and read. During afternoon work party I tarred a foot rope down in A compartment with Craig. We passed Bimini at 1 PM.
During the 4 to 8 PM watch we saw a strange light in the sky. It was bright red and moved quickly from west to east. It was a rocket taking off from Cape Kennedy.
Tom and Susan are making my life easy. They own their own sailboat, and they are gung-ho and great steerers. Tom talked about a company he is working with that is building the HMS Detroit, a steel-hulled traditional sailing ship. The company specializes in steel-hulled luxury yachts. Hmmmm......
Monday, 11/23/98 Bahamas
Up again at 3:30. It was starting to hurt. We were still motorsailing under staysails like we were on Saturday. Nothing special happened, other than we didn't need to do a deck wash due to all the painting projects drying on deck. After watch I got a 2 hour nap in. For afternoon boat work I wire-brushed parts of the steering mechanism for priming and re-painting.
We were interrupted by a sudden course change and wearing-ship to avoid a rain squall. It wasn't a particularly nasty-looking storm, but there was wet paint everywhere.
4 to 8 PM watch was busy. We had to strike and furl the mizzen topmast staysail, mizzen topsail, main topmast staysail, and the fore course. All this was done in a freshening breeze so there was a slight adrenaline rush. My mastery of the lines was pretty good and my comfort aloft was absolute. We got to bed a little late. Morale was low at our end-of-watch meeting, so Christina and Erna asked me to cheer things up.
Tuesday, 11/24/98 West End, Grand Bahama
Got up at, you guessed it, 3:30 AM. As I got out of bed I decided this was probably the watch I wasn't going to make it through without collapsing. But once I started moving I was all right. Our watch involved lots of bracing and sail adjustments. A squall came through just at the end, so we had to strike sail quickly in a freshening breeze. We got to bed at 8:30 and I slept solid until 11:30.
C watch dropped anchor while I was sleeping, and when I got up I took a look around on deck. We were anchored in a bad spot, so we weren't allowed to leave the boat and go ashore. It was raining anyway, but I was frustrated. This was my second time to the Bahamas, and I still hadn't made it ashore! It is a welcome day off for us, though.
It rained all day, but I got a lot done. I read Kipling and some magazines, caught up in my journal entries, read my yacht design book, and studied a little for the Captain's License exam. I also got a marine biology lesson from Meghan. She shined a spotlight at the water for a few hours, and pulled up a bucketful of water. The variety of tiny organisms drawn to the light was amazing. I got to bed around 9:30.
Wednesday, 11/25/98 West End, Grand Bahama
Erna woke me up at 4:55 AM for boat check. I got it in my head that we were underway and I only had 5 minutes until watch, so I sat bolt upright and exclaimed "Holy Shit!" I woke up several people in the compartment, and Erna thought it was pretty funny.
We sailed off the anchor around 10 AM then set all the square sails and three staysails.
For morning work party I helped bend on the main topgallant and got a little annoyed. I could feel some queasiness coming on and Jason was trying to correct a bowline I didn't tie. He thought I tied it so he was giving me an impromptu lesson, then it hit me that this pipsqueak was giving ME knot-tying lessons. I said, "Look sonny, I was teaching people how to tie bowlines before you knew what a sailboat was!" Yep, the guy had an ego and it had taken me two months to develop my own.
We didn't get lunch 'til 1 PM, then for afternoon work party I sanded and prepped the doghouse. Christina and I spent the whole time singing 80's tunes again and it was a lot of fun.
4 to 8 watch was uneventful but it was beautiful sailing and beautiful water. At the end of watch we struck all the square sails and did dishes. I had a nice celestial navigation discussion with Andy during my helm hour. Got to bed at 9.
Thursday, 11/26/98 Gun Key, Bahamas
We dropped anchor at 12:30 AM at Gun Key, and I thankfully slept through the whole thing. I was awakened for anchor watch at 6, then went back to sleep from 7 to 8:45. After breakfast and a brief meeting we launched the Avon and headed in. This was to be another day off! I walked all around Gun Key and visited an abandoned lighthouse. Gun Key is rocky and rugged, and large rats hide in the bushes.
I did some snorkeling and saw a reef shark, which cured my need to snorkel. Then an absolute genius from our crew brought beer to the beach! Drinking a Corona neck deep in clear water is how every Thanksgiving should be spent.
We had Thanksgiving dinner at 5:00. Nearly everyone dressed up as best they could, and rum and cokes were available on the serving line. I helped wash dishes, did a boat check, then watched "Trading Places" before bed.
Friday, 11/27/98 Miami
All hands were awakened at 4 AM, then we raised the anchor and headed out. For the 4 to 8 watch we did a deck wash and set the topsails. Then it was time for a brief nap.
I napped 'til around 10:30 then all hands were called to strike sails. A small squall was blowing in. We did quick and dirty sea stows then went down for lunch. During lunch the ship started to heel, but we had shortened just enough sail for a good ride. There was no real boat work to speak of, just some belowdecks cleaning.
We pulled in to Miami then I showered and cabbed to Coconut Grove with Deb, Matt, Craig, Jenny, Eben, and Ben. We had pizza then went to Tavern on the Grove, a cool bar with a great juke box. We also stopped into The Hungry Sailor which was also really cool. We watched a high-speed street painter that made beautiful alien planetscapes with spray paint. It took him less than five minutes to paint interesting detailed drawings. He was awesome but I had no money to buy anything. Then I headed back for midnight boat check.
Saturday, 11/28/98 Miami
This time my boat check was from 12 AM to 2:40 AM. It hurt to stay awake that long with a slight buzz.
Then we got up at 7:30 for a painting work party until noon. We needed to beautify the hull for Sunday, when a company would be filming the Rose for a commercial. I then had a quick lunch and called Kim, my parents, and the Wests. I left messages with Lester and Kelly and Carleen. Then, despite a beautiful day, I got sucked into Mission Impossible on the VCR. Afterwards I went to South Beach at 4 PM with Jeremy, Ben, Deb, and Meghan. We hung out on the beach, had some Thai food, and ate at Ben and Jerry's for dessert. Went home to bed at 9:30. Christina, our watch AB, or supervisor, headed back to Toledo to visit her sick grandma.
Sunday, 11/29/98 Miami
Up at 7:30. This was the day a film crew shot the Rose under sail for a Boston Visitor's Center video. We took the film crew aboard and sailed around while they filmed. One of the cameramen got my hands as I hauled on a line, but he asked that I keep my head out of the picture...HEY!! Then we headed back into port to drop them off, and we sailed back out to be filmed, this time by a helicoptor.
Great sailing! We tacked and wore ship several times, but we had to disappear belowdecks in between each maneuver. I got some very sore hands.
We got back to the dock at 8 PM and headed out to Tobacco Road with Craig, Ben, Hancock, Johel, Willy, and Brook (all in one cab). I got home after midnight.
Monday, 11/30/98 Miami, Gulf Stream
I talked drunkenly to Kim on the phone 'til 1 AM then went to bed.
7:30 wakeups were painful, and it was time to say goodbye to Miami (and Florida). The beautiful warm weather mocked us, because it was going to get cold. We got a new batch of trainees aboard, and all but two were volunteering as potential crew for next season.
B watch was rotated to 8 to 12. We had safety drills after lunch, then a heavy deck wash. All hands were washing so it was very mellow work.
Late in the afternoon I got to call sail setting for the first time. "Hands to set the mizzen topsail!" "Ready on your port and starboard gear?" "Ready on the sheets?" "Cast off the mizzen bowlines!" Woo Hoo!
For the 8 to 12 PM watch it was pleasant motorsailing by moonlight. While my trainee John and I were on bow watch Erna and Tom brought us hot chocolate. With the Gulf Stream's help we were doing 11 knots.
Tuesday, 12/1/98 Gulf Stream
It was a painful wake-up at 7:30, then a hurried breakfast and 8 to 12 watch . My trainee John steered for our entire hour because he felt he needed more practice. Fine with me! I got chewed out for oiling a pin rail without moving the lines. It was a dumb mistake, and in my sleepy state I probably thought I could be really carefull. Captain had a point but he used the word "moron" in front of the crew. I learned not to manage people that way in high school. What a dork!
For the afternoon work party Brook and I tore the serving off the main course footrope. We memorized the "Sea Fever" poem while we worked, since there was a contest in progress to come up with the best parody.
By John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)
I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky.
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.
With the wheel's kick, and the wind's song and the white sails shaking
And the grey mist on the sea's face with the gray dawn's breaking.
I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the rolling tide
Is a clear call and wild call that cannot be denied.
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying
With the flung spray and the blown spume and a seagull crying
I must go down to the sea again, to that vagrant gypsy life.
The whale's way, and the gull's way with the wind like a whetted knife.
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And a long sleep, and a sweet dream, when the long trick's over.
We were hitting long gradual swells with the boat rolling moderately heavy. I timed the period of the boatís motion and came up with 10 to 13 seconds.
I took a shower at 4 and got lots of reading and writing done. I kind of like 8 to 12 watch. It's called the "office watch" because it sticks closest to the hours that actual human beings sleep.
Evening watch was fine but it was really wet on the bow. I was on standby from 11 to 12 when I wrote the "Sea Sickness" poem on the companionway steps. Mine was the only entry in the contest.
By Brian Bartel
I must go down to the sea again, where the moon and stars are bright
And all I ask is a ship and star, that's all I want...Yeah right!
How 'bout a dry bunk, a nice dry bilge, and a crewmate who's not a boob,
Fresh smelling quarters clean scented mates, and a break from wire lube?
"Down to the sea" meant self-sufficiency and freedom to me
not tar, caulk, paint, sandpaper, back-aches, well...nothing is free.
And all I ask is a froofy drink, and to cavort about in the nude,
But with a crew of 28 well, that may be considered rude.
Please start the diesels, get me home, you must go do this quick
For wind opposes current, and I'm going to be sick!
When at the dock, complaints all done, I'll fall to Earth and kiss it.
One mystery remains: When I get home I know I'll miss it.
Wednesday, 12/2/98 Gulf Stream, Charleston
I finally rolled out of bed at 7:35, which meant I had fifteen minutes to change and eat breakfast (we typically meet 10 minutes before the start of watch). It was a pleasant morning, but the temperature started to drop around 10 AM. I was tired and cranky all morning, and I learned that the 8 to 12 AM watch goes by slowly. I also got a little sick of my trainee, John O'Connor. He was nineteen and a bit of a punk. One highlight of the watch was that after two months of dragging a fishing line behind the boat, the Captain finally caught a fish.
I napped after lunch then we started the afternoon work party by setting all the square-sails. Huge dolphins came and played in our bow wave the minute the engines turned off. Then I spent the afternoon tying on a temporary starboard main topsail foot rope. It was frustrating to work alone with a sail set on the yard I was trying to work on. But I had a beautiful view of the water.
As we pulled up to the dock in Charleston I took three trainees aloft to harbor furl the main topgallant. Looking aloft from the deck I gave myself a C+.
As we waited around for supper several of us had an informal "feats-of-strength" contest. I felt pretty cool because after two months on the Rose I could climb up and down a halyard several times and hang from one hand without breaking a sweat or breaking my skin. Then Eben climbed up and down the same halyard upside down. But he hauls lobster traps for a living so his super-human strength shouldn't be a surprise.
After supper I had a boat check until 9:30, and I went to bed not long after.
Thursday, December 3 Charleston, SC
We got up for breakfast and boat work at 7:30. I finished up the starboard main topsail temporary footrope, then removed the wire one and tore off the parceling. After lunch I patch-served the fore backstays then started cleaning up for a scheduled cocktail party. I showered then went walking with Ben, Hank, and Gene.
I had a quick dinner at Blimpies then met the gang out at a sports bar. Then we went next door to some oyster seafood restaurant. Then back to the sports bar to meet Deb, Meghan, and Matt.
The evening started out at Jack the Ripper for bluegrass music, then Ben, Eben, Hank, and I blurred from bar-to-bar. We stopped at some yuppie piano bar, a dumpy college bar (Cart & Pony), a video arcade, The Blue Marlin, and the Trio Club. The Blue Marlin is your typical college meat market. The four of us stood in a circle when all of a sudden a woman walked up to us and put her arms around Ben and Eben. She said, "So how're y'all doin'?" The four of us clammed up like it was the first time any of us had talked to a girl, and I finally broke up laughing. My only defense for clamming up was that, with her thick accent, I was trying to figure out what she had just said! She was into Eben's boyish good looks.
Friday, December 4
At midnight we were at the Blue Marlin (NOT) impressing women with our gnarly looks. Then it was off to the Trio Club for live Latin jazz. The music was great and it was a very trendy joint, so we had martinis. I called Kim and went to bed at 3 AM.
Luckily our watch wasn't on that day. I got up briefly at 8 for breakfast, grabbed an english muffin then went back to bed until 10:30.
When I got up I headed off alone with my backpack. I dropped some film off, then hit the coffee shop and read Kipling. Then I hit the library for emailing, walked all over town, then got a haircut and beard trim. I stopped at the Pusser's store for gifts, picked up my pictures and showed them off back at the ship.
I made my phone calls then went to the Cart and Pony for dinner with Ben, Meghan, Jeremy, Jenny, and Johel. It was a really pleasant time. Everyone was to meet at the Blue Marlin but I was tired. I used the ATM errand feint to escape and went straight to bed
Saturday, December 5
Many trainees make light work. This time my boat check was scheduled for 12:15 to 1 AM. When I relieved Hank he had already done the 12:30 numbers, so I just spent my watch writing. From hauling on lines every day my fingers were developing a permanent numbness, and as I wrote I tapped on the table trying to get the feeling back.
Breakfast was at 7:30. We did morning clean-up in the heads then I continued tearing down the footrope. It was a very relaxing morning with a "hurry up and wait" feel. The crew screwed around 'til noon then we finally left.
Our watches rotated again so I was back to Hell watch. The 12-4 PM watch was uneventful. We headed straight East to clear Cape Hatteras.
Since hell watch had switched to morning work party I got a new idea. I had Ra-Men noodles at 4:30 and went straight to bed, skipping dinner.
I woke myself up at precisely 11:30 PM. I dreamt Janice was telling me to wake up, but I couldn't answer because my mouth was full of pizza. I was starting to miss civilization.
Sunday, December 6
Off North Carolina Coast
12 to 4 AM watch was a beautiful night with a bright moon, clear skies, and dolphins playing in the wake. We were motorsailing under fore topmast staysail, fore topsail, fore course, main topsail, main topgallant, main staysail, and mizzen staysail. (the fore topgallant was downrigged for repairs). We never touched a sail throughout the watch.
I slept soundly 4 to 7:45 AM. Breakfast was at 8 and work party began at 8:30. I helped Willie re-install the "log chopper" and the head water pump reservoir. The log chopper is the wonderful device that grinds up sewage before it is pumped overboard. I had a better deal than Ben, who had to remove the (dirty) log chopper the day before.
12 to 4 PM watch was uneventful. We struck the main staysail and set the main course.
Tom Ohmstead made me copy down my poem to submit to his newspaper back home in Ontario. I was getting the light beginnings of a cold, and there were rumors of an approaching gale. We had to motor again so we could reach sheltered water in time. After a quick dinner I went straight to bed, but didn't sleep well.
Monday, December 7
12-4 AM watch was beautiful again. We were still motorsailing, but easily 20 dolphins were playing in the bow wave. They were jumping but you could also see them in the moonlight underwater. It was very difficult to steer. The foremast was braced square, the mainmast was at an angle, and the engine was going. I slept hard from 4 to 7:45 AM.
For the morning work party we bent on the fore topgallant again (Good Lord Why! In two days we would be downrigging for the end of the season!). Jason, Erna, John the trainee, and I worked on it. 12 to 4 PM watch was effortless and I read Kipling's "The Maltese Cat" on standby and boat check. A "must read" fun short story.
I had Ramen again at 4 and slept hard from 4:30 to 11:30 PM. My cold was getting worse. While I was sleeping they sighted flares around 8:30 and turned around back to investigate, but found nothing. They called all hands for the maneuver, but I never heard a thing.
Tuesday, December 8
North of Chesapeake Bay
12-4 watch went well. Early in the watch we could see search helicoptors south of us looking for the source of the flares. We set both topgallants during the watch, and I had mastered the art of sneaking in a few journal pages during boat check and standby. Erna made a plate of toast for everyone, and the previous two mornings she made popcorn. Little things like that are so pleasant when it's the middle of the night, chilly, and dark. I slept hard again from 4 to 7:45.
For the morning work party I had to tar the mizzen cap stay. We were going through big rollers and I swung back and forth until I attached an extra line to my bosun's chair. Despite all the swinging I didn't spill a drop.
Just as our afternoon watch started we turned the engines on and had an all-hands furling "party." Halfway through the party it started to rain. Our watch was cold and wet and my cold got even worse.
I had to unfoul the main pennant in lumpy seas. This entailed climbing 130 feet to the top of the main mast, clipping in, and leaning out over the deck as I tried to untangle the long, thin flag. Up at the top of the mast the ratlines we climbed on resemble a 6" wide rope ladder. As you climb up in big seas you actually rotate through 180 degrees as you climb. I would not have been able to do this two months before! The whole operation took 15 to 20 minutes and I was really tired when I got down.
I skipped dinner and got to bed by 4:30 PM. At 11:00 I was awakened by the sound of the anchor being dropped. Where were we? Who cares!?! I went right back to sleep. I used the head at 11:30 and saw that the heater was on. The temperature had dropped fast.
Wednesday, December 9
Jason woke me up for my 1 to 2 AM anchor watch. The weather was cold and rainy, and the anchor watch logbook was gradually becoming soggy and illegible. That, coupled with the ship's swinging and a semi-intelligible handoff from Jason, made our position (and whether we were dragging anchor) uncertain. But the radar image of the breakwall remained constant throughout my watch, and Meghan and I came up with suitable sights an hour later.
I slept 2:30 to 7 AM, and woke myself up. I took a hot shower (shhh! I wasted water and waited for it to warm up!) and wrote leisurely. I poked my head outside. It was gray, cold, and windy (25 to 30). The seas were pounding over the breakwall. Thank goodness we were anchored behind it. By this time everyone on the ship had a cold.
Morning work party involved head cleaning and paint prep, then in the afternoon we painted the steel knees on the gun deck. The ship dragged the anchor a little throughout the day, and it was unsettling to draw ever closer to another anchored fishing boat.
After work party we had popcorn and blue chips with smoked tuna dip (The Captain had caught another fish, and Hancock smoked it). Then I took a nap, we ate dinner, and we watched "The Cain Mutiny." I got to bed at 9:30.
Thursday, December 10
I was awakened for anchor watch at 2 AM. It was bitterly cold but the wind had calmed down quite a bit. I got back to bed at 3.
At 6:30 AM I was awakened to "All hands on deck to raise anchor!" There was an absolutely beautiful sunrise as we heaved around the capstain. Once we were underway the 8-12 watch took over and we had some relaxing down time before breakfast.
I spent the morning down in A compartment tarring and serving the main topsail starboard footrope. I listened to the new Garbage album while I worked. 12 to 4 PM watch was a little warmer, but I was still sick. We motored in zero wind with 2 staysails up and passed Atlantic City around 3 PM.
I was feeling especially bad so I skipped dinner again and slept 4:30-11:30. We got a late wake up at 11:40, meaning we had 10 minutes to get dressed and grab a cup of coffee.
Friday, December 11
New York City
As we walked out of the companionway and stepped out on the deck, I could tell this wouldn't be a fun watch. It was 40 degrees, the wind was blowing around 30, and although it wasn't raining the air was damp. Our first task was to furl the fore topsail and I couldn't help thinking, "You want us to go aloft in this?" It felt cold on deck, but it was much colder aloft. And I now know it's impossible to grab bights of sail cloth with ski gloves on. At any rate the work got us good and sweaty for the remaining 3 and a half hours of watch.
It was pretty miserable, but soon the Verazzano Narrows Bridge loomed in the distance, all lit up for Christmas. It was beautiful going under the bridge, and when I got to the helm the order was "Keep the Statue of Liberty on the bow." Then we turned towards the World Trade Center as the Staten Island Ferry went by. Landing while at the helm was easy despite the current from the East River, and the Captain was actually NICE during the landing!! We tied the boat up at South Street Seaport, right at the southeast corner of Manhattan, and the crew went to bed at 4:30.
There was an all day work party scheduled, and we got a good start on downrigging the boat for the end of the season. We took down the fore topgallant mast and yard, the main topgallant yard, the mizzen topsail yard, and all associated sails and hardware. Late in the morning Jason dropped a marlinespike from the main topgallant mast. The 8" steel spike fell to the deck from 100 feet up. Not good!
I walked to Chinatown for dinner with Meghan, Jeremy, and Jenny. We intended to then pick up Eben, Ben, and Johel and head to Broadway, but I was really sick and tired so I blew them all off. I called my folks, left a message with Kim, and went to bed at 9:30.
Saturday, December 12
New York City
I got up at 9:00 AM and took off with Meghan and Ben. We had breakfast at Dunkin' Doughnuts and took the subway to 42nd street. We walked all over Broadway, Central Park, Times Square, then went to a Broadway musical. We saw "Bring in da noise, Bring in da funk!" which was full of impressive tap dancing and drumming.
Earlier in the year before I came on board, the Rose went out to Bermuda. The week-long trip was a bit of a disaster, with no wind the whole way there and a surprise squall on the way back. One of the trainees, Patrick Tull, got all the trainees together for a reunion and invited the entire Rose crew for a party at the Seaman's Church Institute. The party was awesome! I looked over at Hank and said that at $4 a beer I wouldn't be getting drunk. Not 10 seconds later Patrick got up and announced that the Rose crew wouldn't pay for anything!
Brook and Ben got up and handed out individualized T-shirts they had made for each crewmember. They were incredibly creative! Then we quickly threw together two T-shirts as a retort. Patrick showed an incredible video of their Rose trip to Bermuda, complete with Errol Flynn cut-ins and a captain that morphed from Captain Bailley to Captain Bligh.
The free alcohol started to take its toll. The Rose crew graciously accepted this gift, and we went first through all the rum, then all the beer. Then we sang the masturbation song at the top of our lungs on the front steps of the Seaman's Church Institute. Oh boy!
After the party we grabbed a few drinks at the Paris Cafe and I took a nap before my boat watch.
Sunday, December 13
New York City
My boat check was 1 to 2 AM. I was really tired but feeling great after the awesome party. And all that rum had completely chased my cold away. I was cured.
We got up at 7:30 for breakfast and boat work. We took down the topsail yards and other gear then cleaned thoroughly below. I was honored to be allowed to sweep in the Great Cabin. It was my first time inside because it was designated "Officer Country."
We got done at 3:30 then took a private tour of the Wavertree and the Peking, two huge cargo sailboats. Then I had a quick bowl of soup with Ben and hit the seaport museum store before my boat check at 5:30 PM.
After boat check I went out with Ben for pizza and hit the Paris Cafe. Ben made "friends" with a crazy New Yorker who insisted there were ten nautical miles in one degree of latitude. He was definitely on something, and he wouldn't shut up and he wouldn't go away. We had a few beers then Matt, John, and Hank showed up and we had a few more. We got home around 10 for a quick nap before a scheduled all hands muster at 11:45 PM.
Monday, December 14
At midnight we headed out and up the East River. The lights of New York were fantastic and the end-of-season nostalgia was strong. Our watch was stood down until 6 AM, but many of us stayed up for 20 minutes looking at the lights, talking quietly.
At 6:00 the sun was just about to rise and the lights of Bridgeport were visible. I took the helm as we pulled in to Bridgeport for the last time.
We tied up the boat, ate breakfast, and immediately it was time for work party muster. We worked all day hauling down yards and sails and the boat looked strange with no lines or belaying pins. I was able to jump in and help with the most self-direction yet this season, so it was a great day. Just before dinner Brook exclaimed the last watch was completed! Shore power was hooked up, the generator was off, and a float switch was installed in the bilge. No more boat check!
After calling Kim we headed off to the Black Rock for a very drunken time. Brook and Willie were leaving the next day, and this was to be their big send off. It was big, all right. I think my rendition of "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" on air-saxophone went over a few heads...
Tuesday, December 15
Got home from the Black Rock at midnight. We had an awfully fun time, but I got awfully drunk. I got a bad case of the bed spins and scurried to the head to throw up, so I ate soda crackers and sipped water 'til 1 AM.
Wake-ups were at 7:15 AM, and we had another full day of work. We took the jib boom down and as a finale dropped the sprit-sail yard right into the water. I used the Avon to retrieve the yard. This was the first time I was allowed to drive the Avon, and given the fact that I only had a Bachelor's Degree, I gravely accepted the weighty responsibility of driving an inflatable dingy. We said goodbye to Brook and Willie, and our final muster was at 5:00. Tony passed out the crew fund, paychecks, and address lists.
Somehow Ben convinced me to go out again! I took a one-hour nap and walked to the Black Rock with Jeremy and Meghan. I had a few drinks then rode home with Jeremy and her "ex" boyfriend John. I got to bed at midnight.
Wednesday, December 16
The work was done except for a few heavy-lifting projects, so after breakfast I headed out. As I stepped off the Rose for the last time I recited "...and a long sleep, and a sweet dream when the long trick's over." That was a sappy thing to do, but Good Lord was I hung over and tired!
I cabbed to Budget rent-a-car and picked up a nice Blazer with 8 miles on it. Back at the Rose I quickly packed, then Ben, Jeremy, Craig, Meghan, and myself took off for Mystic, CN. We spent a good portion of the day at Mystic Seaport.
Tickets at Mystic Seaport were $15 so we stood around thinking about how to use our Rose "connection" to get in free. Just then a truck pulled up to the service gate on its way out. The driver was going to have to get out and open the gate, so I opened it up for him and waved him through. Then we just walked right in unchallenged.
After Mystic Seaport we went to Mystic Pizza for dinner. Around 7:00 PM we went to the Mystic Army/Navy Surplus store and heard about the bombing of Iraq on the radio. We stood in the store for a long time waiting for things to unfold.
After a subdued hot fudge sundae dessert we headed off to Bristol, RI and stayed at a beautiful empty house owned by Erna's mom. Ben entertained us throughout the drive with his crazy stories of college days in East Lansing. Erna and her boyfriend came to the house and we all went off to a fun Irish pub.
We got back to the house around midnight and fell asleep to the TV.
Thursday, December 17
I woke up at Erna's Mom's place at 9 AM after a fitful night of tornado dreams (I always get them before big "Life Transitions"). We had a quick bagel breakfast and headed out. I made the dubious decision to drive through Newport "to see the bridge." Payback for seeing the bridge was an extremely tight schedule and an almost missed plane.
We pulled into Bridgeport at 12:45, said our good-bye's, then I returned the car and walked to the bus station. I missed the 12:55 limo by literally 30 seconds, which meant I had to take the 1:25 limo, getting me to JFK at 3:30. My flight was at 4, so I really needed a lucky break.
I got that break. The van arrived at JFK at 3:15 and the gate was adjacent to the check-in counter (with no line). We were delayed two hours in Detroit because our plane had a dent in it (?!). Kim picked me up at the airport and it was strange seeing each other after so much time. It was like we actually had to break the ice again. My beard was really bushy and I'll bet my appearance was a bit of a shock.
We had a quick dinner at Taco Bell, then ran out to my parents new house to exchange stories and pictures. We left for Rochester at 11:30 PM.
Friday, December 18
The icy, snowy roads made going slow so we didn't make it to Rochester 'til 3:15 AM. When we got to the apartment it was time to sleep and adjust to a new life in a new home!
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