Monday, June 02, 2008

At long last... ahoy mateys!

I had to wait to upload these videos because I took them sidways and had to figure out how to rotate them. It was so easy with iMovie. So, fret not if you take sideways videos!

Oop it is not ready just yet, but I'll post this, which I sent around to tell about the trip:

On Mother's Day weekend we got in the car (on time) on Saturday and drove to the coast to be a part of an educational tour and sailing trip aboard the Lady Washington, which is a historic replica of a ship by the same name that was built in 1720. You can read about the ship itself in more detail on the website: here
We got there (on time) and were greeted by Holly, the educational director. We met a bunch of other homeschoolers from Corvallis, only one family we knew from before. They had changed the date, because the Lady had experienced some bad weather and they were behind schedule, so some of the people who were suppsed to go were unable to, I'm sure glad that wasn't us. Oh, I forgot to say that in order to quell the excitement that morning, I put Gus and El to work making hardtack. They did it almost all by themselves. It is made from flour, salt and water. That's it. No wonder it tastes, well, hard as a tack, as Ella said. It was break your tooth hard. The sailors used to dip it in their tea or stew or whatever. I also promised Gus that, although we could NOT take the hardtack on board (express instructions from our pre-trip info) and we would NOT be able to take and rum, or root beer on board either, we could indeed eat it before we got on, after we got off, and we would be sure to have some root beer somewhere while we were in Newport. back to the story
Holly was a 20 something dressed in her 'foulies', good thing since it looked like rain. We were all dressed in some sort of pseudo period wear, and some warm stuff, too. Gus almost refused to wear his sweater, because he was afraid it would spoil the look he was trying to go for, but I prevailed and suggested putting it under his 'pirate coat'. We looked good! We felt good. We had stopped on the way to the boat to eat some crappy fast food at starbucks and quiznos, which was probably a mistake for at least one of us, but we were feeling very good and ready to have an adventure. We walked up to the ship, stepped over the rail, and were welcomed aboard the Lady Washington by the other crew members. The pre-trip stuff had also warned the parents to 'back-off' and let the kids do the work, and Holly reiterated this. The kids plunged right in and started working with the ropes and learning about the sails. Once we launched away from the dock, it was harder to maintain balance, but Robert and I both followed the kiddles up to the quarterdeck to check that out and hear about navigation. The sailors were knowledgeable and friendly. Some are volunteers and some are paid. They are all interesting to talk to--although the captain was a bit snobby, which may be typical. They made sure that we knew it was NOT a pirate ship, and the kids (11 of them) chose the name for their crew, The Leeside Watch, so that the rest of the crew could refer to them and give them orders.
The Lady Washington, being a sailing-ship, is not very fast when moving on motor power, as we did when we were getting out of the bay, but once past the edge of the jetty, the sails were unfurled and we got to see at least a little of how they work. Robert also got to help with this a bit. That was before he started to feel a bit woozy. It also got a lot colder once we were out in the open ocean, and A LOT bumpier of a ride. Within the first minute or so, I fell down and slid across the deck on my hands and knees. So THAT's what real sailing is like. And it wasn't stormy or anything. The children were very autonomous at that point, just going with the group around to wherever they needed to be, and helping the big sailors out when they asked. Gus was totally blissed out and focused on his job.
After we got out into the open water, things started to get a bit hairy for many of the children, and several of the adults. The ship was rocking so much and one by one people started to need to be helped to the edge to either be sick or keep from being sick. Robert was included in this bunch. The kids that weren't sick were now heaving and hoing something or other, including Lucy. Gus and El were completely engrossed. Holly asked me to stay with Lucy to help her, but I was sort of cemented to my seat, because I wasn't sure if I was going to be sick, or not, and I didn't want to fall over again. I was a bit ungraceful in my period costume, too. So, I just held on tight, and soon enough Lucy came over and told me she was 'tired of working'. She started to tell me how much she wanted to go home, right now, but I just told her that we would be there for a while, and that I wanted to go home, too, but we would just hang, and stay warm and soon enough we would be headed home. The sickos started to outnumber the people that were not sick, so we did not stay out for that long, and didn't ever really have a chance to 'sail' properly since the motor was on the whole time, and the wind was kind of coming from many directions. Through everything, rain, slippery decks, and people throwing up all around them, Gus and Ella stayed interested and focused on whatever was being shared with them, and did their parts as good sailors. Although I knew it was just luck that they, too were not seasick, I was pretty happy for them that they were able to experience so much of it. They went below decks for a bit to check that out, and meet the cook, who was a gourmet (and pastry) chef. The sailors told me they eat better than anywhere on the ship--that bit isn't very authentic, methinks. No hardtack for them, oh no, galettes and croissants, it is, isn't it?? The kids that weren't sick before got sick when they went below. Lucy and I huddled in our blanket and tried to keep our eyes on the horizon and not on the sick folks. We could hear the sailors explaining to Gus and El, and maybe the last 2 others left standing about mending the sails. Interesting stuff. The sailors climbed up in the rigging and furled the sails again and we started to head back to the marina.
By the time we got off, we were soaked, tired and happy as could be, especially Gus, who was practically bouncing with glee. They learned a sea chanty and were singing it as we walked down the gangway. It was really so much fun, and I am sure we will remember it for a long time.

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