Friday, January 14, 2005

Anna: Key West

Thursday January 13, 2005 1:45 pm

Today is another beautiful, sunny day at sea. I am beginning to slowly forget about life before the Bounty and the initial strangeness that I felt begin on the boat. As we are settling in our routines and know what to do to sail the ship, where all the lines are, how to do our assigned jobs and so forth, it seems natural that we are here. We have dogged the watches once again and I am now on the 12-4 watch, typically everyone’s least favorite. It does mean a little less sleep because dinner interrupts one of our chances to sleep, but I think once we get on this system, it will be fine. Last night we began our project of having each Mt. Holyoke student act as the mate for their watch. I was the first student to be the mate for my watch. The night (early morning actually) went well, it was actually kind of dull in some ways. It was good to get a feel of how everything flows during a watch and I am starting to understand navigation much better; however, there were no boats the entire night, weather was no problem, and we stayed on course during the whole night, so the time passed slowly. In my watch Nino, Natalia, and I are each going to have a chance to be the mate twice, once during the night and once during the day so I will have a chance to me the mate again and during the day I will call a wearing of the ship (turning the stern of the ship through the wind) so there will be more going on.

This morning we had work party and I climbed to the crosstrees of the foremast (the very top) to rig a gantline so we can haul up the new mast later. It was intimidating at first when I began climbing the upper ratlines but I just continued upwards and before I knew it I was higher and higher and finally I was at the top of the shrouds. The tricky part then was maneuvering myself onto the crosstrees because the ratlines ended a little lower than I would have liked. Nevertheless, being up there was a lot of fun and I am quickly becoming more and more at ease with climbing aloft and enjoying being up there.

Key West was a great stop. We got in at around 8 am and left for the shore at 9. I spent the day walking around and exploring the island. I enjoyed touring Hemingway’s home, which is a beautiful Spanish-style mansion with a gorgeous and surprisingly laid-back garden, guesthouse and backyard pool. One of the most strange things about the home is the 60+ cats that live on the estate. They are all direct descendents from the bloodline of the original six-toed cat given to Hemingway because of its well-known value as a good luck charm for sailors. During his lifetime, Hemingway also had about as many cats as live there now, and the owners of the estate take good care of the cats, apparently they are the curators’ second largest expense. We sat outside for a nice lunch at a restaurant named Caroline’s where I got some excellent shrimp. It was great to get fresh seafood, something I certainly don’t get enough of at school. We then continued wandering, did a little shopping and met up with the rest of the MHC crew to see the sunset at Mallory Square. We where then led by our first-mate Andy to a local Cuban restaurant, El Siboney, in a remote location out of the tourist area. Apparently the restaurant has been in the same Cuban family since it opened and the taste of food confirmed it. I got a pork dinner with saffron rice, black beans and plantains (!); to say it was great is an understatement.
posted by Anna