Back on Land, Sad Sailor

My ship has come in, but I'm very sad to be a landlubber once again. I miss that the rooms don't all rock and that I hear no water lapping near my head as I go to sleep. I miss the steady action... but I don't miss jumping to the whims of the first mate. And I definitely don't miss having to hike three blocks to go visit the shore head. (Hooray for free showers! Showers forever! Showevers!)

I also miss the constant singing. Granted, it was usually just *me* doing the constant singing - I was compared at one point to the Singing Bush in "The Three Amigos." No one around; just me scrubbing the sole boards and singing, singing, singing. (But look, you have to sing while you clean heads or else you just go crazy, that's all.) There were also the chanties we sang while we worked the sails, songs you heard a million times yet never tired of - John Kanaka, The Esoquibo River, Cape Cod Girls. On a few crew-only sails we chantied to other songs...Memorable especially was when a particularly loony crewmate led us in a chanty that went "Man!...boy!!...boy!" over and over again. (The same crewmate who substituted "Pi-ka-chu!" for our traditional "2-6-heave!" while sweating up the lifts.)

I checked off a few of the goals I set for myself this season. Walked from the tip of the bowsprit to the end of the main boom without touching the deck. Learned how to splice line together. Helped set the anchor. The biggest by far was flying the topsails, the three additional sails to our usual four that we aren't allowed to set when passengers are aboard. The wind was mild and agreeable the day we chose to do it, but by the time we had everything ready to go, gusts and gales were blowing around us, and waves were breaking hard on our bow. But we had spent all that time preparing and weren't about to let a little weather stop us, so just outside Seattle we raised all seven at once, all hands to every line, then sent out our Zodiac tender to capture a few quick pictures of our ship in all her glory. As soon as the pictures were taken we dropped the sails fast, but the wind was yanking and ripping them all to skelter and threatening to whip any inattentive sailor right over the lifelines. While taking down the main topsail I myself was jerked down from my perch on the fife rail and dragged along the deck a few feet before I had the presence of mind to drop the line; the others on it were bunched together deck-of-cards style before they did the same, halyard dancing above us like a tiger's tail, sail canvas slapping against sail canvas with a crack that seemed to call back the ghost of the ship's battle around Cape Horn.

But alas, we were not off the Horn, only off Elliot Bay, and there was no one around to see our glorious show but a few ocean tankers, a distant ferry, and a curious Coast Guard. It was a good moment. A ship without all her sails flying is like an eagle with its wings folded in.

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