Friday, November 6, 2009

Impressions from a Tall-Ship

A thunder clap shook me from sleep. It must have been directly above this ship for the noise was tremendous. It got me thinking, "What do we do in case of a lightening strike?" That is a question I intend to get answered soon.

Last night, as I was drifting in and out of sleep, the rain was drizzling in waves over the deck. It would start on starboard and race to port, then ease for a moment before doing it again. Then there came a resonant tap from the overhead, followed by many of its friends. The hail had come to beat furiously at the deck, looking for ways to enter. But there were none; our ship was closed up tight.

Around 09:00 I went to meet Sāādūūts who is the Center for Wooden Boat's canoe carver. Sāādūūts is Haida, a first-nations people that reside north of Vancouver Island, Canada. Their art is one of the most famous forms of Native American art. That morning, I got to know him better. He also told me how he hopes to enhance his canoe and take it to Neah Bay; how his tribe used to use fish oil and pitch to preserve their canoes; and how if you ask the spirits for something, they will make it happen.

After that encounter with Sāādūūts, a rainbow appeared over the Adventuress.

Two mornings ago I awoke to the sound of claws. For the most part, little birds are not interested in our deck and stay up in the rigging. Their tiny feet make the cutest, albeit unobtrusive sounds so it couldn't have been them. No, these claws must have belonged to a monster of a bird. A goose perhaps? More likely a seagull. It stomped over my cabin and tip-tatted with its claws until I was forced into awareness. Something always rouses me before my alarm here on the ship.

That very same morning, as I climbed the main companionway hatch, the most delightful chirping struck my ears. As I looked up I was astonished to see at least 500 birds gracing our spreader stays and cross trees. "Chirp, chirp, chirp" they cried merrily to me and I hollered back, "what about your poo on our deck!?" They took no notice of me or my complaints, and I must confess they made me smile.

There was a day when I hadn't any obligations until the mid afternoon, and was able to enjoy the deckhouse in the morning. I cracked the window to let the fresh breeze sweep through. Coffee was within arm's reach, the sun blanketed my back, and I was on a historic wooden ship. Three years ago I would never have even dreamed of such a situation, now it's my life for the next month and a half.

The very first morning of my security duty, I emerged to find a brilliant sky. The square hatch at the top of the companionway ladder framed it like a picture. The deep blue was sliced by cirrus aviaticus; clouds formed by airplanes. Cumulous clouds, those puffy white ones whose name means "heap," splotched the spherical expanse.

The weather has been changing a lot. Today I've seen rain, sun, rain again, and now, sun again. When I need to surface from below, I pop the collar on my P-coat and put my head into the wind. It's refreshing and I haven't yet resented it.

AH! Even now, the droplets that are clinging to the upper edge of the windows in the deckhouse are shimmering like light prisms! The sun is being refracted through them and they're glittering like distant stars: yellow green red blue white and everything between. It's hypnotizing. Their flashes make me think of Morse code. Perhaps the sun is communicating.

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