I get on deck as soon as we are awakened in the morning. A sunrise in all kinds of red is awaiting me.
Red sky in the morning
Sailor take warning
Red sky at night
We are making just enough speed to give her steerageway. The morning watch brings the usual trimming and bracing of the sails and more practice in ropes and sailhandling. Some go aloft and learn how to fasten and loosen the sails form the yards. It is my first turn on the bridge watch. There are five special posts that have to be manned on an hourly basis by each watch:
The “Statsraad Lehmkuhl” is equipped with the latest gimmicks like GPS and radar. The course and position are monitored on a computer and besides ships you can even see rainsqualls on the radar screen. When there are motorized ships approaching, the officer of the watch calls them on the radio and tells them that we are a sail training ship, and that they have to give way, and usually they are doing so. At twelve we are released by the red watch, and after lunch we are sitting on deck and take a rest after the unfamiliar work of sailhandling. The wind is lessening and in the evening we give up the sails and start the engine to keep our schedule. I realize that my brain starts working in the right fashion, I remember the things I learned as a youth in a boarding school near the “Bodensee”. I realize that my sealegs haven’t left me. At night I enjoy the sight of the autumn sky again.
We are under sail again. The green watch has set some sails and now it is our job to get the rest of the sails set. The wind is now blowing with force five. We are sailing close hauled on the starboardbow. The sea is building up. The remains of the hurricane “Karen” are 190 nm ahead of us, now calmed down to a normal tropical storm. The captain wants to take the southwesterly and southern part of this deep pressure area to give us a shove in the direction of the Azores.
The ship lists to starboard and crashes through waves of eight meters height. The wind is constantly rising and on the windward side we take over some squalls of water. On deck thick ropes are strung out, so that we can take a hold when we have to move and might loose our balance. Some of the trainees have a hard time, since their stomach is not jet accustomed to the ship’s movement, so they are seasick and have to go through a very hard time.
This night is my first turn as a lookout. From eleven to twelve, I am out there on the forecastle. The night is pitchdark and the ship is climbing over the waves. I feel like I am driving in a rollercoaster. There is absolutely nothing to see.
The hammock is really comforting, since it doesn’t move.
The wind has calmed down a little, we have all sails set, except the mizzen. The wind is shifting to northwest. Some of us are still seasick. But everything seems to brighten up as we feel more and more at home in our new surroundings.
In the eveningwatch I have to take the helm, she is very hard to handle. The wind is now from right astern so the “Stadsraad Lehmkuhl” is constantly trying to turn to one side or the other. I have to get accustomed fast to the hydraulic rudder to keep her on the given course.
The wind has calmed down to force three, again the sun is shining and we enjoy the beautiful weather. I would never have expected such warm temperatures in the middle of October but we are sailing on a southerly course on the great circle to the Azores. In the afternoon we are taking a lesson about the Atlantic by John. We also practice for the shanty contest. In the night we set our watches one hour ahead. We have one quart of our voyage to the Azores behind us.
Karen is finally gone. In the afternoon we sight some flying fish. The wind is almost gone and in the evening we give up all sails and commence under engine. Some old rhymes about the weather come to my mind, here is just a small sampling:
Sea-gull, sea-gull sit on the sand!
It’s never good weather when you’re on the land.
Trace the sky with painter’s brush,
The winds around you will soon rush.
Sound traveling far and wide
A stormy day will betide.
At sea with low or falling glass
Soundly sleeps the careless ass,
Only when its high and risin’,
Safely rests the careful wise ‘un.
Today I took over the duty in the cafeteria, because Fiona took too much sun yesterday. We are still operating under engine. In the afternoon we are taking a lesson in astronomical navigation, held by the second mate. The wind freshens and we set sail again. In the evening she is running with twelve knots, it can’t get much better. At night I am sitting on deck and watch the beautiful night.
She is moving with thirteen knots under sail, the weather is fair, mild temperatures and the sun shines bright, some white patches of cloud in a deep blue sky and a blue, white speckled sea around us. Who needs anything more.
Phillip, the sailmaker is teaching how to sew sails and those who want get the chance to sew a ditty bag from old used sails.
The moon shows up for the first time in this night. The stars are so bright, that I have difficulties to distinguish a star, rising over the horizon, from a sternlight of another ship. We are sailing in a sea of stars, right trough heaven. I have never seen a night like this before. In a night like this I realize which things are really important. The rest I leave behind. Deep thoughts and feelings drift through my mind, for the first time in years I feel really free and at rest.
Light rain is greeting us in the morning. At nine the wind shifts hundred degrees in a rainsquall. The free watches are called to duty and in one big effort we brace all yardarms around. Then we shift all staysails and the mizzen to the other side. When the work is done, we are all fagged out, but proud because we did a rather good job, according to the boatswain. We are getting better with every day at sea.
Mild temperatures again in the night and a bright sky. A ship crosses our course a mile ahead.
In the morning we sight the masts of the “Christian Radich” starboard ahead of us. Her hull is still under the horizon. We will pass her in the late afternoon. On the starboard side a big tanker passes us hulldown on an opposite course.
We have closed the gap to the “Christian Radich”. Everybody is watching. We pass in a distance of five hundred meters. The sun is setting astern of us. Two sailing ships meeting in the middle of the Atlantic that happens less and less in our days. I hope the photographs will show parts of this great scenery. At sundown we are 180 miles north of the position, where the German sail training ship “Pamir” foundered in the hurricane Carrie on September 21st,1957. Her last position was 40°N 35°57’W. On August 10th, she sailed from Buenos Ayres with a cargo of grain in bulk. Out of the crew of 86 only six men survived.
She is running with eleven to fourteen knots. The weather is still at his best. In the afternoon we take lessons in navigation and sewing. Aside the usual trimming of the sails we lay at our leisure and enjoy the fast and beautiful voyage under sail. We will reach the Azores well ahead of our schedule.
Land ho. In the morning we sighted Pico, the first island of the Azores. We have about a hundred miles to go for São Miguel. We are four days early, so we will anchor at Baia da Capella.
Finally, we are at Anchor. The rising sun is shining on the small town of Baia da Capella. We start polishing the brass on the ship. She is an old lady and there is much brass to work on. In the late afternoon, everything is shipshape again. The brass is shining in the sun. After the work is done, we are taking a swim in the Atlantic ocean. In the evening we are having a party on deck and for the first time some beers are served. We sing along under the command of our captain and enjoy the ending of the first part of our voyage.
Early in the morning the anchor is heaved aboard. The last miles to Ponta Delgada we drive under engine. At ten the lines are made fast and we are looking forward to our first shore leave. The local ships agent and the Portuguese customs officer come aboard. At two we are cleared in and ready to have a look at the town.