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September 1st, 2009

Landlubberly, but learning

Being bored and having nothing in particular with which to amuse myself during my break at work, I started reading an old classic. When I read over the early paragraphs, I found myself nearly giggling. I could definitely relate to what the author was writing:

"On the following night, I stood my first watch. I remained awake nearly all the first part of the night from fear that I might not hear when I was called; and when I went on deck, so great were my ideas of the importance of my trust, that I walked regularly fore and aft the whole length of the vessel, looking out over the bows and taffrail at each turn, and was not a little surprised at the coolness of the old seaman whom I called to take my place, in stowing himself snugly away under the long-boat for a nap. That was a sufficient lookout, he thought, for a fine night, at anchor in a safe harbour." -Two Years Before the Mast (1912 edition) page 2.

I suppose I looked just as ridiculous when I was given my first trick at the wheel on the Spirit. We had just pulled away from shore and were motoring down the Washington Channel when the captain handed me the wheel. The channel is not very wide and not very long, but I took a bold stance at the wheel and terrified, asked, "What should I steer for?" The captain directed me to make for the white building at the end of the channel. Really, there was no need to have any particular spot in mind, so long as I didn't run her bow into either wall of the channel or collide with another boat. Still, I stood with a very stern stance, careful not to let the course veer even the slightest from my target. Heh, now I just steam down the channel easily, waiting for the first buoy at the mouth of the channel and keeping an eye out for any sailboats who may get in the way.

I suppose that Mr. Dana and I learn quickly enough!

"...while I thought myself to be looking as salt as Neptune himself, I was, no doubt, known for a landsman by every one on board as soon as I hove in sight." page 1

"About midnight...I was ordered to call all hands. How I accomplished this, I do not know, but I am quite sure that I did not give the true hoarse boatswain call of " A-a-ll ha-a-a-nds ! up anchor, a-ho-oy! " In a short time every one was in motion, the sails loosed, the yards braced, and we began to heave up the anchor... I could take but small part in these preparations. My little knowledge of a vessel was all at fault." page 3

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