Thursday, January 14, 2010

Home at last.

After a solid 12 hours of travel that started at 4am in Norfolk, Virginia I am now home at my parent's house in Allen, Texas. So happy. So tired. So full. Mom made pot roast and mashed potatoes and gravy and corn. Yum. I am gonna sleep like a baby.

I am pretty bummed that I wont be doing the crossing from Norfolk to Bermuda because I feel like the rest of the crew is going to learn so much and bond and go through some really tough and trying times together and I will join them in Bermuda kind of like an outsider and a newbie for the second time. I really hope they welcome me back with open arms and I don't have the "sick kid" label for the rest of my life.

Ok, so where do I begin? It's been quite a week. Last Wednesday I flew into Norfolk where I met my new crew. The first mate, Carlos, came from the Liberty Clipper, which you guys know I used to work for. The second mate, Janet I had never met but let me tell ya, this chick knows her stuff. She really amazes me. The third mate just got here yesterday and her name is Cassie. Our cook is Hanifa, she rocks, she plays guitar and sings too so we get along very well. The engineer is Ron, he is 67 years old and from Corpus Christy, Texas, so you know we get along. He is so funny. He says being around all of us keeps him young. The second engineer is Stacy, she is very intense but is really passionate about sailing. The deckhands are me, Sayzie, Sawyer, Isaac, Ruben, Sam, Tommy and Deon. Sayzie is so nice and happy and we get along really well. Sawyer is very quiet, nice and soft spoken. Isaac is hard to place, I feel like he is going to be quite a joker when we all get to know each other a bit better. His alter ego's name is Hank. Then you have our Documentarian, Ruben. He is the camera man for the trip and acts as a deckhand. He is really funny and witty. We have taken to calling him Raul for some reason. Sam is from Sierra Leon, Africa. He was a translator when the Amistad sailed there last year and when it was time to leave he came with the boat and is here on a work visa. Tommy is a very well known sailor and very familiar to me, I feel like I know him from somewhere. He is super so nice and I am looking forward to working with him. Then we have Deon, who also came from the Clipper, who knows some of my friends from there and he is a riot as well. I am so looking forward to getting back to the boat and having a great time.

The more we learn about our trip the more it becomes clear that this is bigger than all of us. It's bigger than any of us imagined. We are visiting island nations affected by the slave trade starting with Bermuda. Our journey roughly goes like this...
St. Lucia,
Dominican Republic,
Haiti (maybe),

The trip is all dependent on making it to Havana by March 25th which is the anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. If we have to cut out an island or two to make it there in time we will have to do so. This trip and it's planning runs all the way to the top. Capt. Sean told us the other day, just to express how big of a deal we are, that we were being discussed with President Obama in the white house that very day. Yesterday our CEO went to meet with the state department to go over the details of our stay in Cuba and to iron out details. I'm not really sure exactly what is going on with all that, probably for good reason.

It's a bit overwhelming.

Ruben is filming the voyage and will be making it into a documentary. So, look for that... lol. We will be uploading video blogs via satellite throughout the journey via YouTube as well. Scary and exciting!!! HAHA! He says we are gonna be stars...

Ok, so, turns out I am a BIG BABY! All the other boats I have worked on had your regular gaff rigged sails or marconi or whatever. I have never worked on a boat that had square topsails that you had to set and furl from aloft. The first time I tried to go aloft on my own power a.k.a. not being hauled up in a bosun's chair, I froze up (literally it was 31 degrees) when I got to the top of the ratlines just below the lowest yard. My hands were freezing, I couldn't feel my fingers and I didn't know where to put my feet or hands next. I went down to reassess my strategy. I warmed my hands and went up again after some "encouragement" from Janet. ;) This time I made it to the first yard and perched up there to warm my hands before the next few steps up to the cross trees. After some coaching from Carlos who was already up on the top yard, up I went. The next step is the one that got me and continues to get me to this day. Its a big step out over open air to the fuddox(?)(somebody help me out with the spelling or the terminology) shrouds and up to the top mast. I just couldn't wrap my frozen mind or fingers around the damn shrouds and get my grip comfortably. It freaked me out. I tried a few more times before heading down. I went up the next day two times and still no luck. I feel like when it's warmer I will be more confident and comfortable. I can do it. I can do it. I gotta keep telling myself that...

In other news, I got a really nice email from Dave over at Living Like a Pirate and it turns out he likes the blog and wants to feature me on his site! Check him out and visit his blog at this link here. How exciting! Thanks for stopping by Dave!

In New Orleans.

Ok, so here's the scoop. We don't have the internet on the boat and Norfolk is like on another planet and you can't find free wifi there to save your life so that's why I have been out of touch for a week.

In other news, I started feeling sick Monday morning at about 1:30am when I woke up in a cold sweat. I took some dayquil when I woke up and went on about my day. Took nyquil and went to bed, woke up again all sweaty and feeling really bad. Got up, took more dayquil but sat at the other table during breakfast lunch and dinner because I didn't want to spread my germs. Everyone could tell I was sick and Sean, the captain told me to go lie down for a while and rest. So I told Carlos, the first mate to wake me up when they started practicing setting the storm jib so I could be a part of that. He did and I went on deck to freeze for a while. I rested for a while before dinner then the CEO of the company arrived and we had an after dinner meeting that lasted for like 3 hours. I went to sleep and couldn't get any rest due to a grizzly bear snoring in the bunk next to me, and in the morning I couldn't even get out of bed for breakfast. Carlos came to check on me and suggested I go to the Doctor. Which of course, I don't want to do, but he insisted so off we went. The Doc said I have type A flu virus, now, this MIGHT be the Swine but they don't test to differentiate between the two because they are both treated with the same meds. So it may just be the seasonal flu. Either way I am contagious (not airborne) for the next couple of days.

The boat is flying me home and then flying me to Bermuda when I am well to meet them and continue the trip. I am so lucky. I figured it would just be easier to replace me then to go to all this trouble. But I guess they like me.

I will upload some pictures this evening and write all about my adventures living on a tall ship for one week in the frozen tundra. I can tell you one thing, I will NEVER take another job that goes farther north than Key West in the winter time again. NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!!

I can't believe I am in New Orleans and can't even drink a hurricane...