"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by...,"
Ah, the sea. Is there a mariner anywhere who can resist its alluring call? Isn't it a joy to just pick up and go?
Those of us who can, boat. Those who cannot, cruise.
I've never done a cruise ship. If I want to stay in a hotel, I prefer it to be on land. When I want to go to sea, I want the motion of the ocean and the spray on my face. I want to feel like I'm on a boat. Do you feel the same?
We should change our snooty attitude.
An August 2008 story in the Daily Telegraph (UK) reports that the P&O cruise ship Pacific Sun was caught in a violent storm 400 miles off New Zealand. According to the story:
"Some passengers told how they were flung across the ship, along with crockery and 'anything not nailed down,' when the ship tried to turn to face its bow into the storm.
"They said huge waves caught it side-on as it manoeuvred, causing the ship to pitch violently."
It's a networked world. So naturally, the event was caught on video.
Now, that's an adventure.
The Pacific Sun is a 47,000 ton vessel. She is described in Wikipedia as a medium-sized ship accommodating up to 1,900 passengers.
I've forgotten what I remember about bad weather cruising. I do remember to slow down when conditions worsen. If you can't make safe harbor, turn the bow into the weather and ride it out. (You should have checked the chart before leaving port for safe gunkholes just for this purpose.) It's a good idea to get those life vests on.
Did you know that Charles F. Chapman, the original author of Chapman Piloting and Seamanship was a founding member of United States Power Squadrons?
Did you know that Chapman wrote the book in 1916 at the instigation of the assistant secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a training manual for Navy Reservists?
That would be the same FDR who encouraged Roger B. Upton to take his boating safety movement "national." That movement morphed into United States Power Squadrons.
Did you know that Chapman has a 12 page description of United States Power Squadrons and Canadian Power Squadrons? And that those groups are described before the U.S. Coast Guard?
So which group is more important? Unless that blue light is flashing, I mean?
John Masefield's I Must Go Down To The Sea is an anthem for boaters, sailors and mariners everywhere. Here's the full work:
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.