I have barely sailed before, let alone been on a tall ship, and so the past 5 days of our voyage have been a very steep learning curve indeed.
From taking the helm for the first time ever to steer us out of Gibraltar (consumed by paranoia that I would somehow crash us into a nearby super-yacht, even under the Captain’s eagle-eyed supervision), to donning a striped apron for my Mess duty two days ago, to mopping the ‘Heads’ during this morning’s Happy Hour (‘I don’t remember this in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, I remarked to my buddy). In just a few days, I have learnt how to chart a course, the difference between a topsail and a mainsail, and the appropriate way to shout ‘two, six, HEAVE’ when hauling (with gusto, it seems). I have seen my brave fellow voyage crew venture up the masts for a climbing session – and hope to follow in their footsteps very soon.
There have been challenges. Yesterday I, like several of my crewmates, was struck down by a brief but distinctly horrible seasickness which broke over me in bone-deep, nauseating waves. I was consumed by the slightly-hysterical desire to open a window (both impossible and ill-advised, below sea level), and a similarly hopeless desperation for the back-and-forth motion of the ship to stop, even for a minute.
Life on a tall ship provides uniquely extraordinary consolations, though, and I very soon began to feel better. Yesterday evening’s night watch brought a dizzying display of stars spinning in the blackness overhead, and the sea turning to mercury where the moonlight struck it. We could make out the steadfast glow of Jupiter and Mars, and the Milky Way spilt across the sky. Stars, as I have never seen them before.
This morning brought an even greater treat – a pod of dolphins clustered around Tenacious’ bow, darting and dancing alongside us, several of them with their young in tow.
As I sit here on watch now, we have brought out our dolphin-spotting guide in the hope of identifying the precise species – and have even been lucky enough to make a few more sightings. As of yet, we’ve still had no luck in my ultimate maritime ambition (this being, of course, the first confirmed mermaid sighting)… but I remain optimistic, nevertheless.
Lottie, Voyage Crew member of Tenacious, Aft Starboard Watch (with Kate, Andrew, Colin, Jane, Pete, and Jill) 21/11/22.