Monday, February 07, 2005

Photo: Nino using a sextant

I've also added photos to a few previous posts.
posted by Bill

Thursday, February 03, 2005


I'm going through the recovered photos from the laptop. Here's one to start off.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Laptop recovery

I've received word that the photos and some unsent posts were recovered by our crack recovery team. Will post as soon as I have them.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Weighing the Anchor (Mike)

The day we left Dry Tortugas, the captain thought that we should gain some hands-on experience with a very important event in any voyage, the weighing of the anchor. Before modern luxuries such as electric anchor winches, called windlasses, with which the Bounty was thankfully equipped, the crew spent hours using the capstan to raise the anchor by hand. Because we had put out nine shots of chair (9 shots x 90 feet per shot = 810 feet), the captain had used the windlass to haul up all but 2 shots (180 feet).

First, I’ll make a note on the capstan. On the Bounty, the capstan is a meeting place, a classroom, and a warm hearth in addition to being a winch. At the beginning and end of every watch, the entire watch would gather and take a roll call at the capstan before handing the deck over to the next watch and being stood down. Every time the captain needed to address the crew, he would call “Hands to the capstan.” In the afternoons, when the captain and mates would teach us various aspects of seamanship, they would use the capstan as a desk. During long, cold night watches, idle hands would jockey for a position around the base of the capstan where hot air from the engine room was vented. Above the round vent grate, which rises about 18 inches above the deck, the capstan is a narrow cylinder, about a foot in diameter. Around this cylinder are vertical wooden strips tapered to give the entire cylinder an hourglass shape. At the base of this narrow section are four flaps, which fall down into a track and pass over ridges designed to keep the capstan from moving backwards while under tension. At the top of the tapered cylinder is a broad circular section with square holes around its diameter. It is topped in a smooth wooden surface a bit above chest height.

To raise the anchor, a large block (piece of wood housing pulleys) is attached to the chain, which enters the ship on the port bow, and another is fastened to the port deck beside the capstan. A very thick line is then fastened to the block on the chain and runs between the blocks, almost the entire length of the port deck, six times. Then, it is wrapped around the tapered part of the capstan four times so that the tension in the rope provides enough friction to keep it from slipping. After the capstan, the line goes off to starboard, where it is neatly coiled.

The day we left Dry Tortugas, we had an early capstan meeting to weigh the anchor. After the captain explained what was going to happen, we paired off and grabbed capstan bars. When the command was given, we all inserted our bars into the square holes and started walking. Pushing the bar was not difficult, but it was a very long and monotonous process. While, with all the mechanical advantage afforded to us by the capstan and tackle system, we only had to push each bar with about 18 lbs. of force, every trip around the capstan brought only 6 more inches of chain onto the deck. Can you tell I’m a physics major? With 180 feet to be brought up, 60 feet at a time, that translates to a lot of continuous walking. With each lap around punctuated only by hopping over the two ends of the rope coming off the capstan, we tried to occupy ourselves by talking, singing sea chanties, and telling jokes. While Rose, my capstan buddy, didn’t really appreciate my sense of humor, Lindsey liked one joke so much that she tried to use it later for wakeups. Though she didn’t quite get it right the next morning, I doubt it mattered to her yawning, half-asleep audience.

Once the two tackle blocks had been drawn together, the chain was fastened at the bow and the block was detached from the chain. Working together, we played out the lines snaking back and forth between the blocks and pulled the forward block back up to the bow, where it was reattached to the chain. Then we returned to the capstan. As time went on, we became hotter in the rising morning sun, hungrier, and less talkative. Finally, as the tackles were being drawn together for the third time, Andy announced from the bow that they could see the anchor leaving the water. We redoubled our efforts, pushing intensely then surging ahead as link after link was drawn over the bow. After three hours of marching nowhere, the anchor was up and ready to be fastened and we hurried below decks, eager to enjoy our long-awaited and well-deserved lunch.
posted by Mike

p.s. How is recovery coming along? I had one done that Carly says she sent off and another one that was almost completed but never sent.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Maria's catch-up #2

Well, I return yet again with another catch-up post. I felt like I should write down some kind of reflection on my experience as a mini-mate.

Being a mini-mate meant that we each played the role of mate for the entire watch. I was pretty anxious before my turn came up, and I anticipated a rather stressful four hours. One of the biggest reasons I felt so nervous was that I had to be mate from 8am to noon, and I am most emphatically not a morning person, as many people found out over the course of the trip. Every morning when someone, usually Jaime, came to wake us up, I would let out a sort of creaking groan to make them aware of my consciousness. Little did anyone know that my creaking was a vast improvement from the growl that I generally use at home. Once I have succeeded in getting out of bed, I generally do not like to acknowledge any other living objects for some time. It's not that I'm grumpy, I'm just laconic. However, all leisurely thawing of my people skills was out of the question as long as I was mini-mating. I had to be with on the ball right away. Even before I had finished my coffee.

I think it must have been for people to see me trying to make sense of the chart and plotting the course at 8am. Another hurtle to jump was the process of wearing ship. Wearing ship is a sailing evolution used to turn the boat 180 degrees by putting the stern up into the wind. The Captain made it a requirement that each student had to wear ship while they were mate. Caleb, the mate for my watch, went over the process with me again and again before I had to shout the orders, but even with that preparation I managed to mess up. Everything was so different in practice than it was in theory. However, on the whole I feel like it was a good experience. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and I found that I could still do ok outside of it. Things didn't go too smoothly, but I didn't break anything so I say it counts as victory.

Later, I got the chance to mini-mate from 8-12 at night and that was much better. Not only was I more alert, but at that point in the trip we were motoring, so there was less to keep tabs on. It was interesting to see the difference in work load between the mated and-deck hands. I don't think it's really fair to say that the mates have the easier job even though they do less physical work. The mates have a more stressful job because they are responsible for quite a bit. They need to navigate, make sure everything is getting done that needs to be done, and are responsible for anything that goes wrong during their watch. Through my mini-mate experience, I gained an appreciation for all that the mates do and an even greater appreciation for the lack of stress that comes with being a deck-hand.
posted by Maria

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Anna: Back home

It is strange to be back home. I miss all the activity of the boat and of course the warm weather. I know that all of the Mount Holyoke students were sad to say good-bye to the Bounty, but perhaps through our pictures, email and all the other technological devices we have invented to communicate with each other we will be able to stay in touch in some way.

Reflecting on my experience I am surprised at how empowered I feel. I have encountered something similar with previous travels, so I suppose I might have expected it with this trip, but sailing on the Bounty has proven to have a somewhat different effect than other travel experiences. Leaving the boat and knowing that I am part of a group that can successfully maneuver themselves over the ocean and back to port, and also manage to live within 180 feet of one another and not all go crazy (at least not too crazy) is more fulfilling than any traveling experience I have had. I guess part of it is the fact that I am out there living life, doing real things and seeing a new piece of the world that for all intents and purposes didn't exist to me before I was there. I have taken with me an amazing sense that I can tackle any issue that the world may throw at me, as well as a comfortable renewal of my laid-back notions about the world and our place is in it. With each new adventure in my life, I am acquiring new perspective on the world and the people who live in it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Mike: Evan's Knife

This story was, in my opinion, the funniest moment of the cruise. Lindsey was showing about six of us how to splice rope on the tonnage hatch. Evan, a crew member, was busy hacking away with his knife because, occasionally, a finished splice had to have its loose ends trimmed off or an aborted splice had to be excised altogether. Seeing this, Lucas proceeded to tell him how to cut lines properly, saying, “No, you don’t saw lines! It ruins the lay. You have to put your knife on it, take your marlin spike, and just give it a good whack.” Taking the advice to heart, he put a piece of line on the chopping block pressed the blade of his knife down on it. With his other hand, he drew his marlin spike far back and brought it down swiftly on the back of his knife.

CLANK! Well, for all his enthusiasm, I can say this much for Evan: the rope was indeed severed. His mighty blow, however, had also severed the hilt of his knife from the blade, which was firmly lodged in the chopping block. We rolled with laughter as Evan furiously waved his one-inch stub of useless steel. Even Evan had to admit that he only got what he had paid for. Earlier in the voyage, Evan had mentioned that he had bought his knife from Bed, Bath, and Beyond and had sawed and sharpened it into shape. Evan wrenched his blade from the block of wood, uttered a few choice words about the quality of his purchase, and solemnly committed both parts of his knife to a watery grave.

Cindy: Challenging assumptions

Even though I had a wonderful time being back on the water and sailing, I realized that I came to this trip with some assumptions about people and I learned how incorrect those could be. This revelation has been hard for me to come to because I have always thought that I am not judgmental about people.

While I learned a lot from the crew about sailing a tall ship, the most important thing I learned was about their personal stories. The crew of the Bounty all had their own stories but one common thread that I found was that many of them were either taking time off from college or before grad school or hadn’t gone directly from high school. I took a semester off to figure out my life and so I shared with them the decision to take time off. I was pleased and interested to learn that the crew and I had a shared experience of taking time off and in some respects we shared part of the same story. Everyone has their own reasons for doing things and as long as they are comfortable with these and as long as they can support their decisions, no one has any right to judge them or assume anything about their intellectual ability or their educational drive. The conversations I heard on all decks of the Bounty rivaled anything that I would hear in a college classroom and they reminded me that many smart people aren’t in college and many not so smart ones are. Now that I’m back in school I have realized that just because you go to college doesn’t mean that you are smarter (and better according to society) than those who don’t. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you make better decisions. Much of the time I envy the crew who are sailing and traveling and learning new skills while I am in school and not doing those things. Deep down, I want the crew of the Bounty to come here and show some of the girls at MHC what it means to be smart and not pretentious or stuck up about being a full time student.

As I look back at my time on the Bounty, I’m glad I was able to sail again and to have met such great people. I have learned something really important that I want to carry forward in terms of how I deal with people, and I learned it from the crew.