SOIC East-India-Man Replica Götheborg III

Tuesday 2012-07-24 - Being on TOP

At some point I lost track of what was happening when in my diary and my picture directories. I hope I reconstructed it correctly ... I know that it must have been THIS day when I went aloft the main mast to its very top in the afternoon.

In the end I have only very few pictures for this day ... compared to other days.

08:00-12:00 Morning Watch

Excellent sailing on fair calm winds.

Some maintenance work, like scraping and repainting and deck oiling; everybody has many different tasks

A helicopter, apparently from the UK, came and made an extra round above us, obviously to see our ship from all angles.

Just light bracings and sail trimmings - but even that exhausts me. And my hands hurt ... no worry, just what I expected - I see a working rigging, I am into it, and so I am as glad as I can be =)

12:00 midday - Godvakt ... we were adapting the alterings of the ceremony =)

Watch leader Sigge came to me and wanted me to teach the watch parole in German - as I am German (the only German who ever sailed with her, she told me), I felt pleased ... OK, so I translated it literally and let them say: "Eine gute Wache soll es sein!" - "A good watch this shall be".

Swedish people are quite good at learning German, it is very closed to Swedish. But it is no longer mandatory in their schools (this had been changed after World War II), today the kids learn English as a first foreign language starting at class 3 (basic school). I found still many who did learn some German even for many years, but as they almost never practiced it, and especially because of the horribly difficult German grammar, they felt unsure ... no worry, everybody can learn any language, no matter what =) It took only 10 minutes to teach them, let them repeat, and most of them actually recognized what they had learned at school.

And when we used that German parole, I knew there was at least one guy on the other side (starboard) who would understand us perfectly, because: Marco is a half-German, just born and grown up in Sweden. I met him first in the bus to Brest ...

Usually I was talking Swedish to everyone (except for the few who were not Swedish onboard), I always train my language skills since I moved to Sweden in 2008 (I actually started studying myself Swedish back in 1988). I still have some slight accent, but it seems to vanish, as I am often taken for a Danish or a Norwegian, and sometimes even for a British. They notice that I am no Swede, I am a foreigner, but it is getting harder for them to make the right guess ... so I am getting better. I remember, when I lived in Germany, as a German(!) I was often treated as a foreigner for some reason, but in Sweden, nobody ever gave me that feeling that I am an outsider. Johanna said she would call me by my real name Jan, and not "tysken" ("The German") - because I would speak her language. Swedes are excellent at integrating people, it made me feel warm in my heart!

Someone later asked me when I will become Swedish citizen. Well, I may do so, soon ...

19:00 PM - Me going aloft in the Main Mast

On the previous days, I did go aloft sometimes, for working, but by far not as often as all others, and while working, I had no camera on me.

Now, just one hour left of free time, I set up my Gopro camera on my head to make a film of it. And I had my Canon photo camera also with me. I had a feeling that this would be about the last chance for me to proove how far I can go aloft, and I wanted to go up to the topgallant sail.

And so I did. I have 105 kilos on me and I am completely untrained, but I could still do it!

In 2010 in Stockholm, when I sailed with her my second time, I did something similar, but we had no sails set then. THIS time we were under full canvas!

First as I came to the crosstrees (at the topsail) I started making photos from above.

Then I made my day: I sat myself on the main topgallant yard and had the most exciting view of my life! Anna and Hanna did the same just one yard below, on the main topsail, giving me a smile ...

From here above, the mizzen mast looked just like a toy ... this was at about 45m height. And I had no fear ... I was secured all the time, of course.

I will edit my film of it soon and publish it here also ...

When I came back on deck, it was just enough time for the watch change, being on-duty.

20:00-24:00 Evening Watch

THIS TIME we expected another "altering" of the ceremony =)

And indeed, they said "En RRRIKTIG BRA vakt!" - "A REALLY GOOD watch [we wish You]"

OK, I took that challenge at once and responded with the others: "En RRRRRIKTIG BRA vakt ska det vara!!!"

We were coming closer to Bremerhaven. So we made some preparations of the gangway ladder, which turned out to be somewhat difficult, as we were veering the ladder to the wrong side =) Sigge excused herself with much humor as always, and we did it to the right side (which was port in this case).

Then we were to bend the mainsail, Sigge said ... but again, she had misunderstood her officer =) and so we bent the main TOPsail, that took almost two hours until midnight. So I and the most of our watch went aloft on the main top platform or on the yard, doing that job.

The main topsail is one of the largest sails onboard, and taking it in is heavy work on the yards. The clewlines and the four leech- and buntlines haul it close to the yard, but still there is much canvas hanging down 2-3 meters, and the canvas is heavy! We were lucky to do our job in a very calm and summerly warm evening, but in a storm we would have had a hell of a job, and I would have been "out"!

5 people sway out to each side of the yard and take in the canvas in a "synchronized" action. One man alone can hold nothing, but all together can do. Linus led the actions. Two of us (that is, me and Olga) remained on the platform to haul a small net, on the so called bunt seizings, those tackles are in a pair, belayed on shroud clamps in the tops, not on deck. The point is that most of the canvas, on the old sailing ships, goes all to the center of the yard, and there it is stuffed into the net eventually.

It was becoming dark, but we could still see surprisingly much of the scene, although there is - by purpose - no lighting in the tops. When I had to attach the net to my bunt seizing tackle, I noted that the wooden stopper was broken; the one of Olga was OK. There was some part left to secure mine though, but I reported that to our watch leader, as all parts of the rigging must be kept in shape all the time.

24:00 PM - seeing the stars again at Good Vakt!

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