Unmoore Ship

arly in the morning we are raised. In the hammock I have slept like a log. A cold shower clears the brain and after a hardy breakfast we are ready for the day and the things that are awaiting us.

Soon the other trainees arrive and are being showed to their quarters. John is making up the three watches. He tries to make everybody happy. He is a wonder of patience. At noon he gathers our passportsin order to clear with the customs. The trainees are distributed into three watches of thirty men each. “Red Watch” for the time from zero to four, “Green Watch” from four to eight and last but not least “Blue Watch” from eight to twelve. I’m member of the “Blue Watch” with the number eighteen. Everybody is given a number for the rollcall at the beginning and the end of each watch. Having a number makes the task of looking for everybody easier for the crew and the watchleaders. There are people of twelve nations aboard. The command language is English with the sails and ropes and some special commands in Norwegian. In my sparetime I start to memorize the ropes and where they are made fast. It seems to be the right thing to do, because if you want to get along on a big sailingship the most important thing is “to know the ropes”.

At four in the afternoon we are cleared to leave port. The pilot comes aboard and a harbortug tows us into the middle of the river. The ship turns and now our bow points to the open sea. On our port side we see the skyline of New York and realize deeply the gap where the towers of the WTC are missing. Soon the Statue of Liberty comes in sight on starboard ahead. It is a marvelous view with the already setting sun. As we pass, there is a gaffrigged schooner heading up river. That should make a good picture. Then we pass underneath a big bridge. At Ämbrose Light” the pilot is picked up. Finally we are under way. Astern we can see the masts of the following “Christian Radich”. Slowly America fades in the light of the setting sun, this will be our last glimpse of land for the next weeks.

Now watchduty begins for real. After diner at eight the blue watch takes over. Our watchleader Ramond introduces himself and his team. We are directed to some ropes and start to set sail. First we set some staysails and the foresail, mainsail, then lower and upper topsails on the fore and the main mast. In Norwegian they are called “Fokk”, “Storeseil”, “Forrestump”, “Storestump” “Forremars” and “Storemars”. We start to learn the names of the ropes, like buntline or clewline and the places where every rope is made fast on deck. It turns out that it is hard work to set the sails. For instance, we must heave up the yards of the uppertopsails. Each yard weighs three tons. When at twelve we are released, I am really fagged out.

I take my time for a last cigarette and sit myself down on a bunk on the windward side of the ship. I look up to the stars. It is a moonless night, the sky is clear and the stars are shining so bright like I have never seen before. On our portside I can see the lights of some distant lighthouses. The engines are shut down and for the first time we are sailing. Everything is quiet and calm, it seems as if we are sailing right through the stars. Here I will find some peace of mind again, I am sure.