TNS454 22/11/15

Day 18

Today dawned a bit blowy with a lot of lumps around. Movement needed a bit of planning if it wasn’t going to end with a bump. The good news was that we have been making good speed all night and everyone is enjoying a good sail. Another benefit is that there has been time for some reflection: And now for something completely different.

How to Climb a Tall Ship Mast – Nine Simple Steps for the Terminally Afraid…

Step One: Gaze fearfully upwards at the unlikely sight of the rope-covered pole you have decided to climb. Question your sanity. Examine the inadequacy of your two human feet (really, orang-utans were much better designed for this sort of thing) and notice the immense height, mad swinging of the lines in the wind and gentle tipping motion of the ship. Faint, come round, change undies and retire to bunk for short hour of hysterical crying. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Step Two: Locate the BM of your choice. These busy creatures are usually found buzzing around near something that needs fixing, sorting, or putting right and occasionally up the masts. If you ever look up an see an unclaimed pair of legs, that’s a BM, you just can’t see the rest of him. BMs can usually be identified by their action sandals and all-weather shorts, and always get to smoko on time. Trap your BM by asking nicely if they will help you and offer beverages and chocolaty comestibles. Mention, in passing, terminal fear of crushing, plummeting death and of splattering yourself on deck below.

Step Three: When prompted by your friendly BM, or at time arranged, prepare for the great ascent. Coping behaviours may include mild tremors, hysterical screaming, crying and clinging to the main mast. If so, please refer to Step One and if the condition persists, contact the Medical Purser for a friendly mallet-assisted nap.

Step Four: Loudly joke with colleagues about the delicate grace with which you will plummet to the deck if you fall off. Smile sweetly as you cry inside, and try not to tremble too obviously – cameras will be at the ready, but don’t worry – they want to catch you on the way up too. Be brave.

Step Five: Follow the clear, simple instructions of the BM, and use the calming sound of his voice to drown out the screaming panic inside. Surprise yourself with your own strength, competence and ability to resist the pull of gravity which nonetheless will keep trying. Chronically check harness is clipped on and slowly, fearfully ascend to platform.

Step Six: Enjoy the beautiful view and the rolling seas. If anyone has ever told you that the world is mostly flat, circular and carried on the back of four elephants standing on a giant turtle, now you will believe it as you watch the edge of the world falling away on the horizon. Bask in feelings of pride and survival.

Step Seven: Later, think about your experience and realise how much you enjoyed yourself, despite slight feelings of terror, and write a satirical blog post mocking the aforementioned. Feel proud of brave accomplishment.

Step Nine: Realise it’s getting dark. Idly, wonder how on earth to get down.