“like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
i have tried in my way to be free. “
a (late) beaver down by the bayou on our new property. we keep finding ourselves meandering down to the swamp to listen to the birds and feel the peaceful stillness and breathe the boggy air.
quinn had a fever and got sent home from school the day we planned to go for a tall ship sail on the lady washington, but he was determined to go. in fact, he was devastated that “i missed the tall ship!” when he woke up from an hour-long nap, thinking he had slept all night, that i knew we had to try. he has been anticipating this voyage all the way since the dock tours we did last year. i figured, a drop of nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm, after all.
why not help to sweat a line, when you’ve already got a fever?
“a drop of nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm,
and we’ll all hang on behind
and we’ll roll the old chariot along…”
my men look rather nautical, wouldn’t you say?
the hawaiian chieftain was also sailing that evening, so i got to play with framing their ship in our rigging. always good photo opportunities when you’re not the one sailing the vessel. if you’ve known me a long time, you know i volunteered on the chieftain when i lived in berkeley and its home port was still sausalito. this was my first sail on the lady washington, better known as the interceptor in the movie the pirates of the caribbean.
“heel-yo-ho, boys, let her go, boys,
bring her head ’round into the weather
hell-yo-ho, boys, let her go, boys,
sailing homeward to mingulay”
we did get to sail “into the weather” (essentially, heading upwind) and help with bracing around the square sails, and it was amusing for me to watch the volunteer crew not quite know which lines were to be eased and which were to be hauled on during “let go and haul,” or during the setting and striking of the sails… nuances that i think the average passenger wouldn’t notice whatsoever. i found i had to restrain myself from pointing out the right lines, or coiling down all the loose lines lying around the deck after a sailing maneuver, or hurrying out on the bowsprit to furl the staysail or aloft to furl the topsail and topgallant. i didn’t want to steal anyone’s experience, after all! i got to have my time as a tall ship sailor, and it’s someone else’s turn now.
i’ll close with one more nautical treat, this time a poem by john masefield…
i must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
and all i ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
and the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
and a gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking.
i must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
and all i ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
and the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea gulls crying.
i must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
to the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
and all i ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
and quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.