Monday, May 30, 2005

Me and Chuck

This photo takes me back almost thirty years. Chuck was the 3rd mate on the first leg of my Regina Maris trip. I was sixteen years old and had just graduated high school. Chuck taught me the art and science of celestial navigation with a sextant. One day he drew a circle on a nautical chart around our current position and made me a bet that if my first reading came in wthin five miles of our position he would buy me a beer when we got to the Galapagos. I won that bet by the slimmest margin. After that Chuck would refer to me as "Chris Columbus." He also gave me a second nickname. He would call me "The Vanishing Venezuelan Squid." I had a tendency to make myself scarce when there was unpleasant work to be done, therefore the nickname.

If anyone knows Chuck or how o contact him, let me know. I'd like to give him a call and remember old times.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Learning the Ropes

The first order of business after getting some sleep was learning the ropes, figuratively and literally. A square rigger needs miles of ropes to operate. As students we were required to learn what every rope did. They had us go on deck and assigned us to stations. I was stationed by the wet lab on the starboard side of the fore mast. My introduction to the rigging was a bit embarrassing. The first mate told me to take a rope and to pull on it when he gave the word. I had the rope off the belaying pin and I was ready. When he gave the word I pulled as hard as I could, nothing happened. I kept pulling on the rope and the damn thing would not move. I literally hung from the rope and it refused to budge. A few seconds later the first mate comes by and looks at me like I am an idiot. I explain to him that the rope is stuck. He gives me a second withering look and tells me to move aside. He grabbed the rope with one hand and tugged on it and the rope just fed right trough for him. When we were done my hands were raw. Handling the manila rope used on Regina’s rigging was like rubbing sandpaper over your hands.