Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Being a Sailor - And other Pipe Dreams - pt 2

The America

Yesterday, I waxed eloquent, and elegant about the HMS Surprise and my delight in finding a really satisfying series of books by Patrick O'Brian, on which the movie, "Master and Commander" is based.  Today, I am going to tell you about the winning ship at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Before going to San Diego I did a couple quick searches for things to do as a family, what would be of particular interest to each family member.  My thing, that I really wanted to do was to go on a whale watching cruise.  So I booked one online, paid for with plastic.  Bob's yer uncle.  It wasn't until we were a couple of days into our vacation that we realized how amazing this thing was.

First of all, the day after we arrived in the city I had always known as Three's Companyland, our little girl started showing little spots all over her pearly white, Canadian in December, belly.  By that night, my sister-in-law and I diagnosed it as chickenpox.  Shoot, what do you do when you saved up, spent all this money on the big family vacation to California with the extended family? (don't be deluded, they paid their own way! haha)  Well, we reviewed the detailed schedule of event tickets for the week, what can we delay, who is going where, who can stay home, etc.  Everything is flexible except for the whale watching, so my wonderful husband calls the tour company and explains the situation.  Could we go on a sailing a few days later?  Even though the website, tickets everything said NO Changes, the tour staff of the America were very kind and accommodating.

Gray Whale In The Pacific
The America is a replica of a racing schooner, and made me think of the Canadian icons, the Bluenose, and Bluenose II.  What's the big deal about going whale watching in a schooner?  Well it's not what you see, it's what you hear.  Silence.  Then you start to hear the sea.  And then you hear the whales, you hear their massive bodies push up to the surface, and you hear them exhale, blowing a spray of water metres into the air.  You can hear the rhythm of the wind and waves, and the filling of the sails.  Why can you hear this?  Because there is no vrrrrmmm vrrmm vrrmm of motor boats, and seadoos, and other noise polluters.

That's a Fluke!  Our language is full of seafaring speak and I don't mean the 4 letter kind.  Yesterday I referred to "3 sheets to the wind" which means staggering drunk, not laundry day.

 Our tour guide, Cap'n Al, is a retired sailor who now educates about sea life, and plays the odd extra role in films such as, you guessed it, Master and Commander.
Here he's teaching my boy some rope work on the standing rigging (black, OK to grab if you are falling).  Running rigging is white, and if you are falling don't grab anything white it will just make it worse, like losing a hand or hanging yourself or something, says Cap'n Al.

He was a wealth of information for us land lubbers, and he had the leathery tan, and swarthy accent to go with-it.

After testing the knot work, they moved on to proper treatment of the American flag, which kinda made me feel weird.  But being Canadian I was very tolerant, and nearly said something.  Cap'n Al asked us if we knew why the US flag was folded into a triangle?  "It's because the British don't do it that way."  He said.  Apparently, many US naval traditions are based simply on the fact that the British don't like it.  hmmm

I do have a couple of regrets.  1.)  I let Wayne pick the accoutrement including the champagne and glasses.  Now I am not above enjoying a lovely box of wine, but...  Wayne gets a little too much joy out of being frugal cheap, and the apartment we had rented was across the street from Trader Joe's.  So Wayne discovered you could get champagne for $1.99.  (refer to my earlier post about liquor stores in Sask) I say champagne with a small "c" because I am quite sure nothing about this beverage is even aware that there is a place called Champagne where really good sparking wine comes from. 

2.) I didn't take any photos of the cabins below deck.  Amazing!  The sailing yacht is family owned and operated.  They offer various tours year round and then for a couple of weeks each year they all get together and sail up the coast for a family holiday.  Yeah!  That's nice. 

I was so blinded by jealousy I can't even remember all the details of how many people it sleeps etc.  I remember it's 139' long which makes it bigger than my YARD here in REGINA, the ahem, best city in the best prov, in the best ahem country in the world.  What can I say?  I have issues!  OK?

San Diego Maritime Museum at night(Dark Masts are the Surprise)

the very tired crew

Supper at The Big Kahuna

me with me maple leaf on me head
I was completely unprepared for how awe inspiring it would be to sail.  It literally lulls your senses into a zen state.  Granted, the weather was very good and so we didn't even think of seasickness.  But I have to say I loved it.  
Wayne got me sailing lessons for my birthday, but I chickened out.  For now anyway.  In my imagination the weather is always perfect.  I'm not sure I'm ready to break that perfection with reality yet. 

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