Sunday, May 20, 2012


Amother day on the water. We plled out of PIB after a quick provisioming run, casting off around 1100 with light air and calm conditions. There has been lss sailing on this leg, and the emgines are getting more exercise; it is the way of things sometimes. My tour in the galley is nearly up and I am excited to get back on deck. I find it hard being around all this excitemnt and staying focused on dishwashing and serving. It is, however, a part of the job. Some of the trainees have expressed frustrations to me. I understand how overwhelming all of this can be; I hope I never forget that. I find it vital to the teaching process. I am also pleased that I can be there for them. sometimes you need to vent and someone needs to be there to listen and to help you through it. I fear that I am becoming an educator.

Friday, May 18, 2012


We arrived near Put-In Bay a few hours after breakfast yesterday and the captaim sailed her onto the hook.Bright sun and a warm easterly breeze for the rest of the da lead to a pleasant lunch on deck. The students went out on the small boats and took a class on celestlial navigation while the majority of the pro crew re tuned the lower main shrouds. Now the hook is being raised and we plan to sail off and in towards PIB to pick up some local friends amd go cruise the battleground. I always wonder at this point what the students are getting from the experience and if it is what we intend. More than anything, I personally hope more than anything that they learn how to be a crew. On a boat or at a minimum wage job or even a high paying office job (I assume) tere is a utility to that mindset; particulrly if you can instill it in people around you as well. Many hands don't always make for light work. The sense of crew can make any job bearable.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Enterimg day two of the voyage a bit tired. the excitement of yesterdays begining was tempered by the bulk of the trainees falling seasick in various degrees. I found myself spending a good deal of time doing dishes because the watch coldnt spare a hand or deliverng broth and tea to the sick. Conditions have calmed though,and all hands seem better for it. We ae currently drifting lazily off Put-In Bay with rumors of small boat work to come. Me, I intend to go catch a quick nap.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Apologies for a lack of updates. It has beem somehow both busy and lacking in interesting stories.But now, glorious sailing. We have our trainees from UCONN here with us on the morning of our first voyage.We are cruising full and by on tops, t'gallants' and our fore and afts under a comfortably fresh breeze. The students don't seem to fully appreciate where they are right now, but the energy in the crew is wonderful. This is why we are here. I am in the assistant cook position for the rest of the week, keeping me down below more than I like, but it is a small price to pay for being here. The crew hasn't been given much detail on were this voyage will take us, but that's fun as well. Adventure is afoot.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Wild Rumpus

So this is, I think, my first real deviation on theme here, but one that I think is worth it. Maurice Sendak has passed away. I saw him speak a few years ago, and the man was kind of insane and terrifying, and I believe a little terrified about the world that has come to be. But he was still brilliant. I really don't think I can sum up the importance I think that he has had in the world; the lessons that he taught those of us who read his books, or had them read to us. So I guess all the things I want to say sum up with a plea, and a warning. If you have kids, or grandkids *coughMOMcough* read Where the Wild Things Are to them. They should hear it. You should make funny voices while you do it. And if I know you, and you have kids, I will find a way to get them a wolf suit. Let the Wild Rumpus Start


So this is my 100th post on here, which may make it the most long term thing I've kept writing in since livejournal. I'm not sure that it really requires any kind of commemoration, nor would I really know what to say about it; I just am a little pumped about it. Today was our coast guard inspection, which we passed fairly comfortably. The safety drill section got a little hectic, but they also presented us with a rather complex and unrealistic set of conditions to work with. I do not see this as a bad thing, however. Yes, we handled it about as well as could be expected, especially at this point in the season. We made a few glaring mistakes, and that shows us where we need to improve. There is a charm in that kind of training because it makes the real thing so much easier. It is also difficult to simulate the urgency and panic of a normal crisis, so by piling lots of things on top of each other, you better approximate the chaos. Train hard for easy combat. We are already getting faster and cleaner at setting sail and basic ships handling, and will hopefully continue to get better. We have the makings of a really crack crew, and if we can keep that going, we will get Niagara doing some really amazing things this summer. I look forward to the possibilities. Tomorrow evening the trainees arrive. We will see what that brings.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Another day another sail. We spent the morning working on a few fixes, some glitches from yesterday. Nothing major, just a few new leads for lines and raising the gaff a bit higher. It was a very light air day, and we started out in the bay just practicing tacks and wares. My first turn on helm came about a bit later in the sail as we made a light downwind run for the channel out into the bay. Even under leisurely speeds, you can't help but have a moment of awe about that responsibility. Though responsibility is a thing that we deal with all the time, to such a degree that we tend to forget it. The rig of Niagara, or any sail boat for that matter, is a powerful machine, and if you make a foolish mistake, the consequences can be dire. Two days in a row I have been responsible for handling the halyard when taking in the main tops'l and t'gallant. With a turn around a little wooden pin I have lowered, as fast as I could without losing control, hundreds and hundreds of pounds of wood and canvas above the heads of my shipmates. If I dropped it, the lifts should catch it, the gear should catch it... but at the end of the day those things could also fail; The risks are very real. I also spent a decent part of the day aloft with volunteers furling, and running around the rig a bit. I forget sometimes how hard it is for people, and need to focus more on being patient and understanding. I think it may be more of a challenge this season than last, because the crew knows each other so well; knows each others strengths and weaknesses to a point where we just get things done with very little open communication. It can get really difficult to actually articulate and explain things when you get used to that. Must remember not to get flustered. Hopefully another short sail tomorrow, and then a few days rest before the Coast Guard pays us a visit.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


First proper sail for the season. Today was our shakedown sail, and apparently the first time the boat has gone into her sailing season without a need for serious repairs since our captain has sailed with her. We worked hard and were congratulated for it, which was nice. We got her out into the lake and got her dressed up nice, setting all the canvas we have on board just to look for any weird kinks that needed to be sorted out. I was sent up to the main t'gallant to free up some trapped stuff half way through setting it, and we definitely had a couple other small things go awry, but at the end of the day, we did a good job. Having a crew who has mostly done this before has been a huge benefit to us, and the officers say this has been one of the least stressful uprigs they've ever experienced. So on Tuesday we have our Coast Guard inspection, and on Wednesday our first set of trainees arrive. The season is really getting started now. I, for one, am really excited for the new students to get here. Trainees offer a unique experience of getting to take someone far away from the reality they understand and push them into something they've never quite experienced before. If I may wax philosophical for a bit here, which I can (it is my blog, after all) I think there is a value in having your reality shaken up from time to time; We do that as well as anyone, far as I can tell. So you get to see people pushed to their limits; people being overwhelmed. You get to watch people struggle and with a little guidance and support, overcome it. Even more, you get to watch them realize that they can overcome it. And for me, it's an opportunity to study myself a little better, and better to learn how to teach and train. How to better communicate and build a team. These are skills that are never bad to have and practice. As the mate said last night, we all have been working very hard and we sometimes forget why. We sometimes forget that she is a sailboat, and we're here to sail. Today, as the engines were cut and we got to feel her start to dance with the wind for the first time of the year, we all remembered. The next step is getting other people to see that, to feel it... and just maybe feel the way we do about it. Here's to a good season with a good crew on a good boat. Time to get started.