akashiver: (Default)
So, my tall ship training course is now over and I PASSED MY FINAL! Which means I get to call myself "crew." It's a long way from being an "able-bodied seaman," but it's something.

The ship, alas, is still in dock, so I'm planning to get my volunteer hours up such that I can actually go sailing. When I do, I'll fill you in.

Yesterday had other milestones too. I took and passed my upper-climb test, which allows me now to venture into the tippy-top of the ship. And I crossed the cat-harpings for the first time - twice! - which is something I've been nerving myself up to do for a while.

(Note: tried to find an image of cat harpings. Do you know how many illustrations of kittens playing musical instruments there are on the web? This is not that.)

(Also, I forgot I had the cheap-ass version of lj. Never mind. If you're on my facebook list you can see an image of the mast here https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151386662565131&set=a.10151386661460131.824894.503960130&type=1&theater. The woman in the red shirt standing in the "crucified" position is crossing the cat harpings.)

The cat harpings are two thick ropes that act as a bridge between the starboard and port (right and left) sides of the lower yard. To cross from the left part of the mast "t" to the right side you swing your feet onto these two thick ropes, stand on them, and leeean sideways until your hand catches a shroud on the right side. This is a the "crucified" position. Then you swing yourself onto the shrouds of the right side. When crossing the cat harpings, you are standing on two ropes that separate you from a long fall, and you are not clipped in. This and the climb into the fighting top are arguably the two scariest climbing positions on the ship.

But climbing these in good weather wasn't actually that bad.  The cat harpings were surprisingly solid to stand on, and I'm learning, yet again, that my body knows more about climbing than I think it does. I even managed to do part of the upside-down climb into the fighting-top without difficulty, so... we'll see. Upper climbing has terrors of its own.

Fun fact of the day: because so much of the ship is made from tropical hardwood, if we get a splinter, we are supposed to immediately report it. Tropical hardwoods excrete nasty insecticidal chemicals that can exacerbate a simple splinter wound and turn it into something Very Unpleasant.  

Climbing

Mar. 11th, 2012 11:22 am
akashiver: (Default)

“Do you know why they put the martlets here?”

I was at that point lying with my belly across the yard and my feet on a very wobbly piece of rope. No I did not know.

“What I heard,” the experienced climber said, “was that in the old days, sailors were terrified of falling to the sea. They couldn’t swim and they had no life boats. So they rigged the martlets here so that if you fell, you would fall onto the deck. Sure, your body would be broken, but you at least had a chance of living.”

“I—” (Oof) “Would prefer—“ (oof) “The Sea.” 

“Looks like you’re caught on that knot. You need to stand up a bit and move your clips so that you can slide over it.”

“Oof.”

“That should do it. Yeah,” he said, looking down. “The sea. I dunno. It’s pretty cold today.”

It was cold. Or at least the wind was cold. My hands were neon pink and numb. I occasionally trapped the ropes with my elbows so that I could rub my hands together to warm them. I’d  been worried that numb hands could lead to a weak grip, but they continued to obey me all the way up and down.  Their numbness was a sulky, teenage kind of numbness, I suspect. They couldn’t quite believe I was making them work in the cold.

Back on deck I noticed that the backs of my hands and fingers were now covered with a cross-cross of faint scratches and scabs of blood from where I’d wedged them against ropes. I hadn’t felt a thing.

In short, the climbing continues to get easier.  

akashiver: (Default)

Climbing went much better this week. For one thing, I had better footwear. For another, the tarp had been taken down, so the swing onto the shrouds was easier to make. Also, my body had gotten time to adjust to the whole “ropes will move” idea.

Best advice given to me: “Never look up or down when climbing. Just watch your hands.”

Most interesting /least-reassuring advice: “Try to climb with a foot on either side of a shroud [i.e. with the vertical pole of a rope ladder between your legs]. That way if a ratlin snaps, you’ll still have one foot on a rope.”

Climbing )

While up at the yard I talked to another trainee, a woman in her 60s, who told me that she’d applied to be a tall ship climber when she was young, but had been turned down because women weren’t allowed to climb. “This is one of my life’s dreams, and I’m finally in a position to do it,” she said. Then she noted the number of women training for climbers.  Times have changed.

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