My Very Favorite Poem
Sea Fever, by John Masefield (1878-1967)
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.
(This poem is in the public domain in the USA because it was published prior to January 1923.)
Why I Like Tall Ships
Seafaring ancestors ran deep on my mother's side of the family. They were whalers out of New Bedford, MA. While that is a big “no-no” these days, that was back when it was a common and accepted way to make a living; ships would be out for months at a time. My great-great grandfather was a whaler until he married, and his wife made him give it up as too dangerous. (It was very dangerous work!)
But, it is because of these genetic connections that I feel drawn to the sea; to water in general; and to tall ships in particular.
Hence, it was an easy choice to make a trip down to the local marina for a photo shoot when I learned a tall ship was to be docking there.
An Afternoon Well Spent
While I waited for the ship to return to dock from a short cruise with a group of schoolchildren, I took the opportunity to test out my new camera on various scenes around the marina.
As the tall ship approached, I snapped several shots of her coming in to dock, and after the kids trooped off, I went down on the dock to await the public tour.
I was not disappointed.
The Hawaiian Chieftain
This ship is a gaff-rigged topsail ketch, and she is about 60 feet long, with a 22 foot beam, and about a 5 foot draft. She weighs in at something on the order of 90 tons.
As such ships go, she is on the small side. Because she is almost flat-bottomed, and has no keel, as does a more traditional sailing ship, she can navigate somewhat shallower water than her counterparts.
Built in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, and launched on June 12, 1988, she is a steel hulled vessel. She was designed as a coastal packet ship, plying the trade between the islands, like the old wooden ships before her.
By the time she was made, steel was the more practical alternative, and the packet trade had dropped off, having become impractical. Her somewhat larger sister ship, the Lady Washington, is a wooden-hulled ship.
A Peek Down Below
In the areas labeled 'crew only,' tour guests were not allowed to enter. However, it was possible to peek inside, and see the tiny galley where they prepare their meals.
My goodness, but efficiency is imperative! Surely only one person at a time is doing any cooking or food preparation. As you can see by the photo below, even one is a crowd in this area.
Forward of the galley appeared to be a storage area, and possibly a passage to some sleeping quarters for the crew.
Aft of the wheel, which was approximately amidships, was another ladder down into more crew area. Here, guests were allowed to visit. Here was contained a table, the ship's radio and other communication and navigation center, and around the table, more seating that could double as bunk space. It was too crowded with other people to be able to get a photo in this area.
The ship has changed hands a few times, and is now owned by the Gray's Harbor Historical Seaport in Aberdeen, Washington. For more in-depth details and history, you can visit their page.
General Classes of Sailing Ships
There are many, many different classifications of sailing vessels.
This ship, as mentioned, is a ketch. This is because the mizzenmast (the rearmost mast) is ahead of the rudder. If it were aft of the rudder, it would be a yawl.
Some classification has to do with size; other bits have to do with the sail configuration.
Some of the other types of ships are:
- Barque, or Bark (a three-masted ship with the foremast and main mast are square-rigged, and the mizzen mast fore and aft rigged)
- Yawl (a fore and aft rigged two-masted ship with the mizzen mast (aftermost) rigged far to the rear so that its boom overhangs the stern)
- Sloop (has only a single mast, with a fore and aft mainsail, plus a jib sail)
- Frigate (this was a European warship designed for commerce raiding)
- Square Rigger (this is a ship like the Star of India--see videos, below)
- Schooner (fore and aft rigged sails, the aftermost mast being equal to or taller than the main mast; the ship Yankee was a schooner, but also sometimes called a brigantine)
- Full-Rigged or Ship Rigged (three or more masts, all of them square rigged; for example, the Star of India, seen in the video below)
What Does it Take to Get a Sailing Ship Underway?
All photos by the author, October 30, 2018
© 2018 Liz Elias