Sail training begins

Well, there’s no going back now. We started sail training last night and we had a terrific turn out. Over fifty people showed up at Mayflower II ready to try out for one of only 12-14 crew positions in our upcoming sail. I must confess the marine staff always approaches sail training with a bit of trepidation. Will we get any people capable of sailing the ship? Will we be able to teach these people anything? Will anyone get hurt? Will we survive the process? We have our work cut out for us. In reality, not so much in getting the crew together, but from our prospective, choosing the few people we need out of an outstanding field of possible candidates.

Last night, after listening to me drone on for a while going over the particulars of training and safety and getting everyone to sign waivers and applications and sign in sheets we set everyone to their first task. We require the candidates to demonstrate the ability to climb up to the main working top and back down, safely and with a minimum of hesitation. In years past this worked as a sure fire way of winnowing down the field. This technique backfired on us this time. Every one of the fifty plus people demonstrated a competent ability to get up into the rigging. Not only that but the process only heightened the candidates desire to make it onto the crew.

There is a fair amount of standing around time for most of the candidates as they wait their turn to climb. This turns into a great time for people to meet each other, begin to learn something about each other, and maybe even to bolster each other’s courage to make it into the rigging.

The sail training process is always interesting to watch. It is unique opportunity for people standing on the pier to watch the crewmembers go about learning to set and furl the sail. Seeing Mayflower II, with all her fine new linen sails set catching the glow of the slowly setting sun is a magical sight. From the deck of the ship, as magical, is watching the individuals, coming from communities all over, slowly form into a unified, competent, and friendly crew, able to tackle the daunting task of sailing Mayflower II out on the open bay.

We are underway at last.

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