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One Sail Down

Jul 19, 2011


Location: La Spezia
Author: Callie Briscoe
Today didn’t start at dawn like any other day, but at sunset. As the sun slowly set on the horizon, the sails were hoisted and we made way to La Spezia in Italy. You may ask, what make this day any different from the last? Well, anyone on board would tell you that it starts with half the crew going to sleep. What made this day different is that we had our first night watch. Night Watch with a crew this small means that half the crew is awake dealing with the sails, watching for other boats, doing boat checks, and steering, while the other half sleeps. Every three hours the teams switch, one team goes to bed while the other takes the watch, until we reach our destination. La Spezia, Italy, was about 18 hours from Bale de Bealen, France, where we had been anchored. I was on Team Three, I know what you are thinking… Team Three? But we only have Team One and Team Three, it’s a long story, far too long for this blog. Our first watch was from midnight to 3 am so after we were on our way, Team Three went to bed. After having a hard time sleeping because it was too early to go to bed, we were woken up fifteen minutes prior to midnight for muster and the changing of the watch. With the swells pushing the boat around like it weighed nothing, Team Three split up and I went to the cockpit to wait until I was needed. The first thing I did was take the helm and steering with the sails up and the water pushing you around at night was not an easy task. Next I went to Bow Watch which, while easy, can get tiring very quickly after sitting there for awhile looking for hazards. I completed my first solo boat check which I am proud to say that I didn’t mess up, I think. When 3 am finally rolled around it was off to bed before the next watch. At 6 am I am on deck with Team Three when I am told that during Night Watch breakfast is done one at a time and that I should go first. I head down to the galley which is rolling around a lot and started making my breakfast. The next thing I know, I hear some type of crack and less than a minute later I see several of the staff who are on Team One up on deck. I secure my cereal and go up to find everyone available hauling down the Mainsail. When things died down I asked what happened and apparently the Mainsail had a three foot tear that quickly tore all the way across. For the rest of the trip we sailed on the Main Staysail, the Fore Staysail, and the power of the engine. The watches continued through lunch until we anchored in Italy. We docked in a small town on the northern coast of Italy that could repair the sail. After covering the sails and cleaning the deck we went ashore and explored. The town was small but we found everything that we were looking for, before making our way back to the boat for dinner. We had oceanography class and since all of us were tired and dirty from the night before, we took full advantage of the port’s showers before heading to bed because of the night before and the early morning tomorrow.