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October 1, 2013

TNS 385 web day 2

Hi from Aft Starboard watch – we have 3 ‘first timers’ as well as several seasoned hands on our watch. Here is one impression from the first full day and day2.

Despite Keith’s research prior to the voyage, nothing could meet the reality ! “The ship is stunning and, after signing on we were straight into training. The crew’s patience and detailed explanations made even the most baffling operation sound straightforward – after all how hard could it be ?

On day 2 we found out – actually putting it into practice presented a series of challenges. First, bracing the yards from starboard to straight, then round to port – only to then brace them back round to starboard in one swift operation. Many lines have to be released / pulled, laid out on deck or coiled neatly. Then it was ‘hands aloft’ for the able-bodied crew (assisted climbs planned to take place in Cherbourg). Everyone was keen to try it, first just to the lower platform, but then up further to inch out onto the lower topsail yard. Even well safety harnessed and guided by the crew, there were challenges transferring from standing rigging, up the futtocks onto the platform. Then after catching breath and much picture taking, climbing onto cables to move to the yard. Sliding along the yard footline was made more interesting by having to duck round crossing lines from the running rigging to the sails. The feeling of achievement by everyone was priceless !

(Despite the view from the Mainmast of the Foremast derrierre’s (well we are going to France, time to practice very old schoolboy French). So, practice over we set off from our overnight anchorage off the Isle of Wight and promptly did more of the same plus setting jib sail, some of the squares (fore course and lower topsail, main lower topsail) and mizzen topmast staysail. Now TNS 385 really looked the part ! But for me the best bit of the day was our 4 – 6 watch, where I got to helm a steady 180 degrees (due South). By now a real team spirit is starting to emerge – you have to get stuck in, the jobs need doing and everyone does their bit to the best of their ability. Thankfully all this hard work is rewarded by tasty meals and smoko treats in between – after all we need the fuel, because along with the wind – we’re the engines now”.

More to follow tomorrow, if we can find the time between sailing, dining and enjoying the trip in so many ways.





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