20/04/2010 - up and over!

Average Temp. 10ºC


As I was having my daily cup of tea, before everyone gets up and ruins the peace and quiet, I noticed something moving in the water, I assumed it was a bird and resumed my quiet contemplation of the horizon, that is until I realised it had a tail!  It never occurred to me that we would have otters up here, but a nice surprise nonetheless, and I could follow his progress through the tiny ripples he left in the mirror-like water.

This morning was going to be an interesting one, first we had orientation of the ship, where we were shown all the areas of the boat and how to carry out a safety check when we were on duty, and then going aloft!! 

The captain gave us a 30min prep talk on going aloft, and how a harness doesn’t keep you safe, only you can keep you safe and how when you hook in, you have to hook in to an adequate anchor point (illustrated with the tale of a young fella who hooked into a line that basically became a death slide – in more ways than one – he fell and slid down to the focsle where he cracked his head open!).  His little motivational speech did its job and scared the hell out of us, and made us appreciate that the usefulness of a harness is dependent on the preparedness of the seaman!

Now for those of you who aren’t aware of what “going aloft” is,… imagine 3 human size spider webs stuck to the side of a 40 metre flagpole decreasing in size as they reach for the clouds.  For those of you with a fear of heights, this is not the career for you…  even when you’re only a few metres up, with the height of the boat you feel like you are on the top of a cliff looking down at the water and the boat.  I have never had a fear of heights, but I won’t pretend that I wasn’t a little nervous as I laced up my harness (which incidentally is connected to absolutely nothing until you are at your working height!) and primed myself for my ascent to the main yard only 10 metres up!  We each took turns with the pro-crew ensuring we felt safe, and muttering words of encouragement as we passed them. I admit to having tunnel vision as I climbed up the ratlines (ropes that go up the mast!) focussing only on the line I was hanging onto at the time and ensuring I had my 3 points of contact!  The most nerve-wracking element of the climb was when you have to essentially hang at a 45º angle when climbing up onto the platform (via the “futtock shrouds” – yes that is “f” as in “f&*k I’m a long way up” and “uttock” as in “I’m an arse, what the hell am I doing”!, oh, and I have just discovered that it is also known as “The devil’s elbow” (can’t imagine why!).  As I completed the “up and over”, the “good job” comments from our friendly and supportive pro-crew helped my nerves, but I was still a little trembly when I returned to deck,.. apparently it gets easier with practice!

After lunch we took the Monomoy for a row (large rowing boat), now this is not rowing as I knew it (i.e. little dinghy rowing), this is professional rowing with associated nautical commands, pace setting rower, looooong oars and obligatory synchronization if we didn’t want to look like a drunken daddy longlegs…  we looked like a drunken daddy longlegs.  I continuously punched Siri in the back on each upstroke as Robert seemed intent on smashing my oar in two as the first mate yelled orders at us!  After 20 minutes, we seemed to find a little harmony in our movements and were even able to turn around (quite lucky as we were headed out to sea and seemed en route to Panama 2 weeks ahead of schedule!).

Once we were safely back on dry land (or deck) I was put to use greasing the shivs (sic) (wheels that ropes move around) with lanolin,.. imagine if you will using your entire hand to slather margarine in someone’s letterbox and you’ve pretty much got the sensation, was kind of fun,.. and very messy!!


On galley duty again tomorrow,.. at least I’m guaranteed first pick of the food!!

Greasing the shiv wheels!

Captain telling us about the one that got away (oh, and explaining the harnesses)

Clark and me 10 metres up!

1 Response
  1. A very good post.