A sail at Jamestown

This past weekend I had a great opportunity to participate in a small way in the Jamestown Four Hundredth anniversary weekend. I was invited to sail on the Godspeed, one of their new ships designed and built for this occasion. It was whirlwind trip. I flew to Virginia Friday, arrived at the site around 2:30 and helped prep the ships until about 8:00pm. Woke up the next morning at 4:00 to catch a shuttle, got underway by 7:30am sailed until 10:30 and was back in Boston by 5:00 pm that night. The only way the trip could have been any faster would have been if I parachuted from the plane onto the deck of the ship as it sailed out onto the James river.

I think parachuting would have created a bit of a stir as they had Coast Guard boats patrolling the water day and night. I was told the Coast Guard had been on the scene all week. Friday night, while we were prepping the ships for the sail on Saturday we watched as two big Chinook helicopters followed by a helicopter standing in for Marine one, practiced landing nearby. It was actually very impressive to see these huge air ships taking off and landing at such a high rate of speed.

The sail itself was not that eventful. The wind was light and variable and never really filled the sails the way we all hope when we set out after a lot of effort and anticipation for sailing. All three ships have motors so as you can see in the photos the forward progress of the ship makes for an unusually shaped sail.

As always the crews were great on the ships. The marine staff, at Jamestown, is fortunate to have a plethora of qualified sailors, all eager to pitch in and participate in their historic events. Our sail training will begin tomorrow night at 6:00 pm. I have no doubt we will enjoy a similar large cast of characters, all eager to pitch in with prepping the ship, from which we can choose our sailing crew.

We sailed back into the basin at Jamestown after the obligatory gun salute. A narrator on a loud speaker could mostly be heard above the din describing the ships, what happened four hundred years ago and generally heightened the sense that something was going on. There were hundreds of people on the dock waiting to see the ships, and perhaps catch a glimpse of history.

I’m sure no one believed the event we participated in corresponded in any way to the actual event four hundred years ago. It struck me that the original landing must have been a much quieter affair. The sailors and settlers must have been hungry, tired and probably somewhat scared to come in contact with that great unknown. The vast wilderness must have seemed both limitless and empty. The only scary part about our landing was trying not to hit someone with a dock line as we approached the pier and later on trying to decide whether to by a souvenir hat or t-shirt.

2 Comments

  1. Matt Delaney

    Peter,

    I found an alternate meaning for bend in the New Oxford Dictionary:
    • noun: a kind of knot used to join two ropes together, or one rope to another object. The origin in Old English stated that it was related to BAND.

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defined roband:
    RopebandRope “band”, n. (Naut.) A small piece of spun yarn or marline, used to fasten the head of the sail to the spar. [Written also roband, and robbin.]

    In further searches, it was stated that bend was also related to band and bind. So, it appears that the term to bend a sail on a spar may simply be a sailor’s abbreviation of the original term, ropeband the sail on a spar, which became roband, and eventually band or bend. Robbin could have been derived from the alternate term to rope bind a sail on a spar, which evolved as robbin.

    Perhaps someone else may have a more specific definition, but these derivations seem to make sense to me.

    Matt

  2. Matt Delaney

    Peter,

    I found an alternate meaning for bend in the New Oxford Dictionary:
    • noun: a kind of knot used to join two ropes together, or one rope to another object. The origin in Old English stated that it was related to BAND.

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defined roband:
    RopebandRope “band”, n. (Naut.) A small piece of spun yarn or marline, used to fasten the head of the sail to the spar. [Written also roband, and robbin.]

    In further searches, it was stated that bend was also related to band and bind. So, it appears that the term to bend a sail on a spar may simply be a sailor’s abbreviation of the original term, ropeband the sail on a spar, which became roband, and eventually band or bend. Robbin could have been derived from the alternate term to rope bind a sail on a spar, which evolved as robbin.

    Perhaps someone else may have a more specific definition, but these derivations seem to make sense to me.

    Matt

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