I’m sitting in the chart room listening to the chatter on deck as visitors question our deckhands. Who, what, when, where, why? How big, long, heavy, what type of wood? The crew are mostly old hands at answering questions now, they forget that a mere three or four months ago they likely couldn’t have identified a Banks schooner from a barque. Life aboard a ship is immersive and all consuming. We often speak a different language; we process time and distance differently and sometimes are lost in life ashore. On a ship, decisions are often made quickly, and consequences are lived with. We accept responsibility for our decisions and accountability for actions taken. At least that is the gold standard and what we strive for. As with all human endeavours, we sometimes fall short.
In the times of Angus Walters, there was absolutely no second-guessing— lives were in the balance and Poseidon, an impartial judge. Anybody who goes to sea now knows that the ocean judges on your best ability which may or may not be enough. I wax poetic today because I know above me on the deck are several deckhands who are in their first week aboard. Our students have left us for their fall term, and we have hired some new crew to fill their places. Unlike our new spring crew who rig the ship before they sail, the fall crew are thrown into the mix as soon as they are aboard. They study terms, riggings, and safety at night just so they can meet the bare minimum the next day during harbour tours and during the open decks portion of our day.
In the late afternoon and evening, our decks are open for visitors and guests to come aboard and marvel at the ship and history she represents. This summer we have been averaging over 1000 people a day! They come from all over Canada, the US and Europe to visit Bluenose II and whichever port she happens to be moored in. The interest in the ship is always astounding and appreciated. Even after all my time aboard, I enjoy seeing our guests marvel at the ship and her young crew. I hope, dear reader, you are aware of the good work our crew do and how they are such good ambassadors for Nova Scotia.
Tonight is a rare treat for me. Pride of Baltimore II is in port for a day or two and together with the captains of Picton Castle, we will have dinner. The three captains are true deep-sea masters having circled the globe under sail. It is a rare accomplishment to lead a crew around the world. Tonight, I’ll get to sit and listen to their stories and perhaps, if the time is right, I will have one of my own to tell. I hope that Captains Walters, Mitchell, Kohler and the host of other past famed Lunenburg captains will gather in Fiddler’s Green this evening and tell stories of their own.