Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Elettra: Final post

January 15, 2005
1426, Dropped anchor in Tampa Bay
27º37.9’N 082º43.17’W

The Red Tide is an oceanic condition in which all organisms, from fish to algae, die. The stench is nearly unbearable when you notice it. A couple of days ago Mate Andy smelled it. He explains that there are no explanations for this phenomenon thus far.

Looking back, the Red Tide might have been a premonition for the storm that was to hit the Bounty night before last. Lightning spread instantaneously and blinded. It wasn’t rain, but hail that pierced the eyes when looking up aloft. I was at the helm when the conditions worsened.

Nicole was mate and everyone cooperated putting the ideal of teamwork to shame.

Yesterday Cindy and I parceled and served a line, slabbing stinky oil on a wired line then mummifying it with cloth (parceling) and finally, serving it by wrapping a tarred marlin around it.

In a previous post I mentioned bearded John when actually I should’ve said Joe. Joe is a redhead with long hair pulled back in a ponytail (sometimes covered with a fish patterned bandana), a long red beard and an elongated face. Instead, Bearded John is another character that dances like nobody’s watching him, especially when he puts on his favorite song, “Shout.”

So Joe came by during our work party, while serving and parceling, and commented on the smell. He is familiar with it because he rides Harleys and occasionally fixes them up with some buddies. He told me a story about a woman who came one day to the garage and just loved the smell. Then, as he walked off, he made a half-comment on the kind of woman she was.

Although the smell of the oil was indeed quite weird, the consistency was similar to Dulce de Leche- goopy and shiny. The consequent serving as if wrapping an oozing wound and finally wrapping it with a line as if cutting the circulation off, made the whole process very macabre. The serving was especially tricky since it was necessary to maintain a careful balance of tension. The line wrapped around the hammer that we would swing around the wired line, snapped twice and we had to restart the wrapping of the line. The need to restart a snapped line originates from the fact that it wouldn’t be as strong of a ‘stay,’ or the final product.

The stay however, looked magnificently perfect, each line in equi-distant linear adjacency with the next.

The snapping of lines has evolved into a joke on board the Bounty. Any time that someone makes a clever, smart ass comment on someone else, anyone who hears them or catches the joke, says ‘snap’ or ‘shnap.’ The next come-back will also be followed by someone saying ‘snap.’ This is probably a joke commonly found in young social circles in the United States, but on a ship it is even more ironic. A line that snaps is no good sign. Such as when the anchor was being pulled up and the line that was holding the tackle snapped, and hit Jamie, one of the crew members, right below the eye.

Elettra

Nino: Final entry

I have arrived home and am sending the last post, a reflection on the last few days at sea.

We were made into mini mates on our trip back to St. Petersburg, we took (to some extent) charge of the ship. On C watch there is the tradition of the mate telling a bad joke at the end of the watch, at the capstan meeting. I am proud to say that the students on my watch had some serious muscle on this front and I would like to share some of my favorites.

Here is Anna’s joke, “What do you call a fish with no eye”...”fsh”; Natalia’s joke, “Why did the mushroom go to the bar?... Because he is a fungi... and why did he leave...because there wasn’t mush room.” The pressure was on, as I was the last among my group to take command. Unfortunately, they already knew the one I used. “A pirate walks into a bar with a helm in his pants and asks for a drink. The bartender says ‘I will give you a drink if you tell me why you have a helm in your pants’. The pirate says ‘it’s drivin me knots.” The crew is always touchy about the pirate subject as they are asked if the Bounty is a real pirate ship at every port, but I still think it’s a good joke.

It would be pointless for me to try and write about all that I learned about sailing; it would take to long. I knew nothing about sailing in general or more specifically about sailing the Bounty when I signed on for this trip; by the end I was comfortable at every station (but still holding on tight any time I went aloft). During the trip, the captain gave us lessons about sailing and the experience. He, more than once, said that the most important lesson was not on how to navigate or which line to pull for what, but the interaction with the people we were sailing with. While no one can belittle the magic of watching dolphins swim by the ship or the beauty of the night sky, the greatest influence on my experience was the crew. I raise my glass and thank the eclectic, fascinating, and warm crew of the Bounty. I am going to have to give more specific thanks to C watch crew: to Teresa for being my buddy and showing me the ropes (both literal and not) on my first watch, to Beth for always being friendly and welcoming, and to John for the Time Warp Dance.

I think I will end on this note. With the image of C watch lined up on Deck at 3am, doing the Time Warp.
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posted by Nino