Good Medicine

February 3, 2007

January 29, 2007

This trip was good medicine. Giving it and receiving it ;About lessons learned and lessons taught and maybe even realizing lessons you already knew. It was about hard work, light hearts and good energy.

There are so many different ways to learn and grow. Its no doubt that we learned a lot about the Picton Castle, tallships and what it takes to make and keep a ship and crew going. We also learned invaluable lessons about ourselves and others; life. As I was standing at midships waiting for the skiff to be ready to take us to ashore for the last time, Captain said to me that the real purpose of sailing and sail training was to pull out an even truer you from you. He was saying that its not that you weren’t you before, just that now you have grown within yourself, you have emerged as more aware, stronger, spiritual you.

As our group headed to Fort de France to catch our flight all of our voices said that in our own different ways.

In summary of these past two weeks, I have to say: No shit there I was a sail trainee on the Picton Castle and I’ll never be the same. I loved going aloft. A hard day’s work of scraping and painting was completely worth every time I climbed the ratlines into the rigging. I learned how to run new lines through the yardarm braces to replace swollen old lines. I learned how to tie knots and whippings and then use that knowledge to make gaskets, complete projects and secure tag lines while we cleaned the outboard side of the boat from a skiff. I learned how to do little things everyday to make the 40+ other peoples’ lives a little easier, as a whole or individually. I learned to appreciate a real day off, a five minute break or the easy task. I learned how to think through a job, pay attention to a multiplicity of details by tackling a task, screwing up and doing it again, the right way.

Coming home was a slight shock, it’s cold and quiet and my bed doesn’t rock me to sleep at night. Two and a half weeks is long enough to feel like months, change the way you live, perceive life and open your mind to a whole world of knowledge and ways to live that you didn’t even know existed before you left. Without a doubt, I will keep the lessons I learned, about ships and life, and the energy we had close to my heart.  Picton Castle Crew and Trainees, Prof Pyle and MHC, thank you for this experience.


What happens on the ship

February 3, 2007

January 11, 2007
    Regardless of our blogging troubles, my blogging has been delinquent at best. Instead of spending all of our time in front of a computer, we’ve been busy learning the ways and tasks of the tall ship and exploring  amazingly beautiful islands; our adventures have been numberless and are getting better everyday. To give you a feel of life for us right now, there are basically three kinds of days, sail days, work days and adventure days. On a work day we wake up at 0720, have breakfast as soon as we roll out of our bunks and muster practically at 0800 everyday. 

Today, Port Watch lifted the anchor one third of the length that it was out.  Imagine a see-saw with a long bar for an oversized handle at the end.  7 or so people grab a hold on each side and on the call, “Down on Port! 2! 6!”  We being pumping the anchor chain up the side of the ship around the gear and into the chain locker. Every cycle, down on port, down on starboard, produces one 8 inch link of chain. We joke that it’s the Picton Castle gym program, but even when we do it twice or three times a day, like today, we’re proud of our hard work and team effort and we’re glowing from the adrenaline rush of achievement.
All day today we were on stand by on deck learning our knots and tall ship terms while stopping to ease this sheet, haul that clew line or adjust a sail. The best part is going aloft and on a day like today, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to go two or three times. Up to loose the sails, back up to furl them at the end of the day. As we finish dropping our anchor, like most days on the ship at anchor, we have a swim call. It’s the sweet summer rope swing into the lake or river intensified by the fact that the rope swing is tied onto the foremast lower topsail yard arm and you’re jumping from the bow of the ship.
Work days are every other day when we are at anchor or port and they’re just what they sound like – work. So far we’ve painted, cleaned inside and out, painted, mopped the decks, painted, cleaned out the fruit lockers, painted, made lunch for 42 people and painted some more. No matter how tired we are at the end of the day, our smiles persist and the bonds we’ve made with everyone we’ve been scrubbing next to are stronger than those made during the days when we just play.

Speaking of which…
Sailing is an adventure, we’ve had adventure with oil based rust retardant paint and we’ve had many adventures on shore. There’s a saying on board, “What happens on shore, stays on shore; what happens on the ship, stays on the ship,” this same saying should apply to this right here right now. To give you just a glimpse, 60 ft base jumps into waterfalls,night walks to perfect beaches, cokes and cokes on the beach, local people, great conversations and dare I leave out our Rasta friends Winston, Fire, Tom, Ben the bartender at Paradise beach – and every friendly island face we’ve ever seen.
    I can’t write about the dynamic of this group; 13 Mount Holyoke
students who know how to act like sisters on a boat with 14 pro crew lead seamen and almost 20 people with the same goal but not one from the same walk of life. It took no time for this crew to come together as a working unit, a family with the same positive energy. Our energy is awesome. The quietly spoken midday conversations to the late night intense ones, the ways you get to know the crew our family can change the way you think about life. I have to stop myself there or I run the risk of being too vague or trapping myself here for the next couple hours and I think Joe, the carpenter we picked up in Grenada, needs help playing his guitar.
Some people say you find yourself when you travel. I think that is true. On trips like this, with people like this, you can find a peace.