Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jumping ships

So how do you get between ships moored up against each other? If you're Johnny Depp, you could swing across on a rope. Or if you're a visitor to the Tall Ships Festival in Dana Point, California, you climb step-stairs and take a bigger step between the decks.

I had no idea when I stumbled on this festival how much fun it was going to be to get to "jump" between ships, to explore the beautiful old vessels, which are restored and operated by maritime organizations from Los Angeles to San Diego.


Among the ships was a three-masted schooner, a privateer and a brigantine. The Ocean Institute's living-history brig Pilgrim, is a full-size replica (fourteen sails!) of the ship written about in Richard Henry Dana's sea-faring book, Two Years Before the Mast.


I'm not currently writing about tall sailing ships, but if I were this would be a treasure trove. Although writers can find tons of facts and photos and videos online, which help us to flesh out stories, there is nothing like real-time experience.

Although I'd been on boats, I forgot the startling sensation the first time you feel the gentle roll, the slightly unsettling feeling of standing on deck as the water heaves. There were creaking and groaning sounds from wood and rope. The polished wood was smooth as satin under my fingers. I needed to be reminded to turn towards tiny steps to descend below decks. For me, a huge thrill was watching an osprey--the white and black eagle of the seas--land up high in the masts.

The smallest and most gorgeous of the tall ships was the Curlew, which was built in 1926 in Maine of white oak sheathed in yellow pine with teak decking.

During WWII, the ship was used to train sailors.

In 1962, Curlew survived a hurricane-force storm that took down other boats. The ship is currently berthed in Dana Point.

Small details to old-time traditions make these ships authentic, such as making baggywrinkles. Here someone demonstrates how to knot strands of rope, which will be teased apart until fluffy. The results look something like bushy caterpillars hanging on a ship's lines to keep sails from chaffing each other.


This post is something of a see-and-do, as well as a reminder to get out there and look for surprises.


Hope everyone's weekend includes this much eye-opening fun.


Donna said...

Baggywrinkles, what a wonderful word. I'm glad you had fun jumping ships.

Karen Denise said...

Wow, these pictures make me want to write about tall sailing ships! Sounds like a really fun festival.


Glad you enjoyed yourself! I've always had a thing for pirates. Too bad my biggest fear is the ocean.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

that is very very cool! We sold our sailboat this spring, and I miss it so much! Great photos.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: Isn't it a great word? I was fascinated, too, by the concept of making these. Some sailor must have wondered how to stop the sails from brushing each other and then played around with rope, coming up with this.

Karen: I know! I was kinda bummed that I wasn't writing about them, because the crew from the ships and living history buffs were all around, willing to answer questions. The event happens every year, though, so maybe I can think of something. :)

Victoria: You would have loved some of the pirates that were here. I didn't post pictures, but there were plenty and they even did a playlet of a pirate attack on the Pilgrim.

TerryLynn: I remember when you sold your sailboat, and I had a feeling it would be sorely missed. I bet you would have loved this.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Whoa--I just learned a new word: baggywrinkles. LOL
Sounds very cool. I love to learn any kind of history stuff.

Indigo said...

Thanks for the reminder. The best writing comes from living life well.

Incredible pictures. (Hugs)Indigo

M. said...

I have done so much research online my eyes cross. But recently I have discovered that I love the real deal so much better! We have a seaport here in CT that I love to visit. Tall ships are amazing!!!

Jemi Fraser said...

The tall ships are amazing! We've had a few in the area and they're so much fun to tour! :)

Sherrie Petersen said...

My son's fifth grade class went on the tall ships last year. It looks like so much fun. If I had a choice, I'd swing from a rope like Johnny Depp. The best surprise would be to have him on the rope with me :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jennifer: I love learning how people did things in the past--the inventiveness always amazes me.

Thanks, Indigo, and, yeah, we should strive to live well. It matters in all we do.

Michelle: Ha! I know that crossed-eye sensation. It is really fun to get away from the computer.

Jemi: I loved going on board. I think they do sleepovers for kids sometimes. How amazing would that be?

Sherrie! I want pictures! Actually swinging by rope would be awesome, but I'd fall if JD was there, too.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Ohdalolly! My daughter would love that- she thinks any ships with sails are pirate boats. And she loves pirates!

Claire Dawn said...

In my Coast Guard days, I crossed the Atlantic in a Tall Ship. I never thought of it as a setting, but now, hmmm...

J.B. Chicoine said...

That is so cool--one day I too will jump from ship to ship! But meantime, it's fun to read about your experience!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Stephanie: Oh, there be pirates at the tall-ship fest. I wish I'd taken more photos of them. There were even some very tiny pirates.

Claire: You astound me with the adventurous life you lead. With all these experiences, you've got a treasure chest of detail to use.

Hi Bridget! I loved the little jumps. I know you would be in heaven. :)

Jackee said...

How very cool! Getting out there is certainly something I needed to hear today. (My husband is in Europe for work, but taking pictures for me of the WIPs settings. So I'm living vicariously but wishing I was there first-hand.)

Thanks for the gorgeous pictures. Have a wonderful week!

Anonymous said...

I love the photos of the ships! And if you are able, getting out and having new experiences is so enriching for our writing. Thanks!

Julie Dao said...

Sooo cool! Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing the lovely photos :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Awesome! I could feel the sea breeze when you were discussing all those details. There's no substitute for the real thing! :)

Bish Denham said...

Oh you lucky duck! Excellent photos.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jackee: Darn, I wish you could've gone to Europe with him. Sigh. Well, at least you have a man on the ground, taking those photos. ;)

Paul: It was enriching. And fun. All around win.

Julie, your welcome and thanks!

Susan: Oooo, I'm glad the words caught the breeze. :D

Bish: I'd really like to be the osprey and land on top of masts, surveying the scene. ;)

VR Barkowski said...

How fun! I adore sailing and old boats. Seattle has a wonderful wooden boat show each year, but I've always dreamed of walking a tall ship. Just your photos fire my imagination.

Oh, and I agree that baggywrinkles is a great word… as long as it's not applied to me. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Viva: I'm very excited to fire your imagination. Maybe you'll set a mystery on a tall ship. I would so love to read that. :) No applying of baggywrinkles to any of us allowed!