Her Character Revealed

The trainees, myself no exception, had several opportunities to stand watch at the helm of theRose. During a 12:00‑16:00 watch, I was at the helm when something unusual happened again: Our subtle breeze became a long gust that seemed not to let up.

I had, in previous sailing experiences, skippered 25‑35 foot sloops though gusty conditions, but I had absolutely no experience steering a sailing ship, except for during the mild conditions, thus far.

Nevertheless, for about 20‑30 seconds, my adrenaline surged something fantastic as I maintained control. I could feel the rudder bite against the ocean surging past the hull, as the ship heeled a good 15‑20 degrees, maybe more, to port. Water rising high upon the freeboard was not a common occurrence during my time onboard, but I remember the water rushing anxiously past the length of the port side. Furthermore, I was impressed by the realization that the ship was still heading the correct course as the sails hardened and the ship continued to heel.

Between checking the ship’s heading on the compass and the head of the ship out to the horizon, I remember looking up and seeing the great towering masts with their complement of set sails and rigging move with new life. By the force of nature’s hand, Rose was making herself known. The deck was at a tilt and the breeze ran freely from behind me. I could feel the sounds of rushing water, wind in the rigging, the alertness of everyone around. Another look at the compass to check our course… thankfully, still true.

This interlude was as if Rose was a renegade princess, whose passionate glance, during an afternoon ride, revealed her true character… lively and spirited. For those glorious moments, I was filled with a sense of pure delight.

As the wind persisted, I was required to relinquish the helm, in favor of an experienced crew member. Soon after, we reduced sail to regain some stability. Our total number onboard was only 24, 21 crew and 3 trainees, which, I imagine, necessitated more conservative measures.


copyright © 2002 Challen K. Yee

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