Follow The Fennel

A sooner end than planned

The question is answered: I love it.

But sadly I was not able to get along with the skipper. You remember the two “normal” characteristics I was glad he did not show? He started with both. Talking only helped for a short time. And since I do not care about what is normal if I am not comfortable with it, I quit in the beginning of July. In addition I was stressed because I had not done my cancer check ups for too long. A replacement was found quite spontaneously and I left the ship a few days later on 29th of July. Nevertheless I am happy I have met my skipper. He is an inspiring person and earned my respect. There are so many things I never told him. At the end I just had to hug him. And I rarely offer hugs. I was also surprised how many values and opinions we shared and still he is one of those strange “oh, a fly, lets smash it”-people.

Of course the time on board continued as advantageous and crazy as it had started and of course I continued to mess up things.

“How to loose a buffer ball” is a trilogy now. In order to get from the Wadden Sea to the Ijselmeer or back ships have to pass a lock. Usually several ships dock in a small corridor, doors closing, water rises or is lowered. One time I realised too late that I was not able to untie the docking rope any more and the skipper hat do cut it. The ship hit the others side of the lock, we lost a ball and a lifebuoy. We docked right after the lock and 3 youngsters and me went back to the dock to go fishing for the lifebuoy. We also got the docking ropes cut of end. I don not want to know what the lock employees must have thought about us.

But I also messed up in a really dangerous way. The main sail is hoisted and took in with a winch, lier in Dutch. Ours had been a bit tricky. You have to make sure the steel cables are wound tidily. Otherwise they can get stuck. That had happened the mentioned two times when I was not able to take the main sail in. There are also toothed wheels / gears the operator needs to set in or off operation. In wet conditions the axes getting very slippery and the winch decides to be in or of operation on its own. It cost on wheel two of its teeth when I realised too late that this wheel was in operation. From there on I always had someone holding the lever. There was also another lever which needed special attention.
But now to the dangerous Situation: At one long rainy day, I stupidly had not eaten the whole time and my mind was clouded by low sugar. When I took in the main sail I realised the breaks having a wet-slow reaction. So I decided to bring down the gaff (Piek, Gaffel, a small boom on top of the sail) not with the break but to crank it down slowly. Instead I pulled some wrong lever and the thing smashed on deck. It would have been deadly to anybody standing there.

But now to the great-crazy-amazing stuff:

~ “Take it with humour”-Crazy ~

  1. Up and down with the jib (fok in Dutch, second biggest sail)
    One day, with very low winds, the skipper could not decide whether he wanted the jib up or down. We hoisted and took in the jib several times within one hour or so. At the end, the guests where not only experts in packing up the jib, they also where not too enthusiastic any more. The last time they were also eating, so I hoisted the jib almost alone.
  2. “Wende ohne Ende” (tack without end)
    A tack is a turn around manoeuvre with usually less than 180°. While sailing the sails of our ship are set on a certain angle, depending on course and wind, out of the ship. Usually one of the swords is down, and the other up. With a turn around the sails change the sides and also the other sword goes down and the other needs to be brought up.
    For a tacking 3 people are absolutely necessary to do a good teamwork with a good timing. One backstay (bakstag in Dutch) needs to be tightened and the other one released. If the job is done not well, the sail, and even the main mast, can take damage. Oh, and I almost forgot it again: two people need to wind one of the swords up. That is the case for two sails up. If there are more sails up, more people are needed.
    One day we did 42 tackings. So at least 5 people had to be on constant stand by. If one needed to pee, he first had to find a replacement. A nice task of team management for a group of youngsters.

~ Yay-Crazy ~

  1. Girls power
    On a very quiet and early morning we waited in vain for the boys who, big mouthed as some boys are, had stated the evening before to hoist the sails. The female teacher, three girls and me were awake and looking forward to work. We did not wait for men power, girls power was enough, high five!
  2. Master of the Kluiverzeil
    The kluiversail is the sail in the front of the ship. In order to pack it, two people need to leave the ship, climb into the kluivernet and keep balance while struggling with the sail. If you fall, you have a good changes to get run over by the ship and get killed. If you are unlucky the sail is quite new, as in my case, the fabric is very stiff. In the beginning we did not use it that often. As I got more confident with the other sails that changed slowly. At first I needed one hour to wrap it and it looked so bad that we had to fix it in the harbour. It got slowly better.
    At my last day I got tremendously pissed at my skipper. I took it out on the kluversail and it ended up in the nicest kluiverzei-wrapping I had done so far, completely tied with only one rope a Jacobs ladder. I am proud of it.

~ Amazing-Crazy ~

  1.  Sail Away
    Falling dry is amazing on its own, but one time we started again without motor. Falling dry says, that we steer the ship on a sand bank and wait till the water is gone. This works, because the Wadden Sea is a tidal area. If the place was well picked, you can walk on the bottom of the ocean. After some hours enough water has returned to move again. Usually it it is done by motor.
  2. Night Ride
    The other amazing thing was a night ride. We ran by motor, using a little flash light to find the buoys. I had help from a guest and together we stood at the front, spotting buoys or their reflectors. Then I gave a light sign to the skipper, marking where it is. sometimes I shouted the position. Later I learned he did not see most of the buoys. I do not know how he managed to get the right course. This was very important, otherwise we would have accidentally gotten stuck at a sandbank. In fact that happened two times, but the ship could get freed again. After the second time I walked up and down the boat to first spot the buoys and then show them to the skipper. This worked better, but the sun was about to rise anyway. It was an amazing sunrise with beautiful colours and a front of clouds marking bad weather. It was also peaceful and quiet.

In general the Wadden Sea has a breathtaking beauty. I have seen the majesty of the Alps, the Niragara falls, the smooth lush green hills of Franconia (my homearea), the pine woods shining in a sunset fire in Croatia, the beauty of the northern England moore lands, the moonish landscape of the Ramon Crater in Israel, the beauty of the dead sea, the Sea of Galilee and the Read Sea at Eilat – all of them with beautifully hazed desert mountains at the horizon.

At a cloudy low tide when you see the ground of the sea as an endless mirror of the sky, the Wadden Sea is one of the sights that moved me most. Sometimes, if you walk quiet over the oceans ground at low tide, you can even hear the Watt, as it is called in German and Dutch, whistle.

Also the dune landscape, especially at Terschelling, is very beautiful. Not to mention the majesty of a fleet of tall sailing ships gliding through the ocean. Oh, and Jellyfish! They are so beautiful. And all the other creatures you can watch.

And yes, I played the recorder and the viola. The recorder while I was lazily laying on the comfortably folded jib and the viola sitting in my hatch.

1 Comment

  1. Jessica

    Sounds like so much to learn! Remember, so people have spent their whole lives on the water! A sailor cannot be made in a day! I am sure you learned a lot!


Leave a Reply to Jessica Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 + 8 =