Wow, sailing on the Appledore was even more amazing than I had thought it would be going into the adventure. I know, we actually went out on Saturday, but we didn’t get back until midnight and I was so tired yesterday that I basically did nothing. Apparently, fresh air really makes you sleep.
But, yes, absolutely incredible.
I was a little worried at first because I’ve never really been out in a ship (I don’t think the cruise in the Bahamas when I was in kindergarten really counts). This boat was a lot smaller and definitely more prone to being tossed around in the waves. To give you a bit of an idea, the Appledore IV is an 85 foot topsail schooner. It probably doesn’t sound that small, and I’ll admit that once you’re onboard, there is quite a bit of space, but it doesn’t look like much when you just look at it sitting there docked on the riverside.
Either way, I was still excited. Like I mentioned in a few previous posts, I actually have a few scenes in my book – one of which is already written – where my characters are on a boat. Now, I wrote that particular section over a year ago, and at that time I had no knowledge whatsoever of boats and shipping terms save for that which I’ve picked up through reading and pirate movies. So, as well as a fun new experience, I also decided to deem this adventure on a whim as book research. Technically, isn’t everything we do in life potential book research? You can get ideas from writing just about anywhere. I’ll admit that my characters never leave my head so I find myself almost continuously thinking about what they would do in similar situations, no matter how mundane.
Now, the Appledore was crewed by a grand total of three people. I would have thought you would need more than that, but see, learning things. However, that also means that in my rewrite of the second book I need to revise some things. I initially had it where there was the captain that owned the ship and then whoever came aboard for passage worked as crew. However, when you’ve only got one passenger, I suppose that can make for some tricky travel. Not to mention sleep.. eh, who needs sleep, right? But yes, I’ll be looking to add some crew members to those chapters to make it more realistic.
Speaking of realism, I’ll try not to bounce back and forth too often between my own experiences and speaking of my characters in the current tense in attempt to avoid confusion. Sadly enough, it’s just become a big part of who I am. My book and its characters started out as roommates renting space in my head and have now just moved in permanently. I certainly don’t mind.
Back to the boat. I sat on the outer edge as near to the bow as I could get. It took us awhile to sail out into the actual bay, using the motor. In that time we had a dinner on the deck consisting of a pasta salad, chicken and rolls as well as cheesecake for dessert. Let me tell you, eating aboard a ship is no small task. For one, I kept worrying that my plate was either going to flip up and dispose all its contents onto the front of my shirt or get caught by the wind and fly overboard. And then there was the rocking. It wasn’t too bad going out, but then we hit the open waters of the bay and that’s where the 3-5 foot waves kicked in. Luckily, I was done eating by then and had disposed of my plate. Strangely enough, the extreme lilting of the ship didn’t bother me in the least. In fact, I think I actually enjoyed it all the more because it was a bit of a wild ride there for a bit, being tossed in the waves, the spray of the water dousing us on more than one occasion. Ok, ok, it was a mere mist, but still awesome. Out in the mouth of the bay is where they shut down the motors and raised the sails and then we really got going. Listening in to one of the crew members talking with the people next to me, I got that we were going about 6 knots. I even got to help raise the sails. Kind of. I would have liked to have helped more. But, alas, the rope was being pulled too fast and being the last in a line of about five, I basically had the main job of making sure the end of the rope stayed on the boat. An important job, I’m sure, but I would have liked to have felt a little more important. There is always next time, I suppose, and yes, there will be a next time.
We went out about five miles out into the bay before we turned around, and once we got heading back towards Bay City, the ride calmed down quite a bit. Also, this adventure took place between the hours of 8-midnight. So I don’t know what was better, the actual ride or the absolute beauty of watching the light of the moon reflect on the surface of the lake. And that was after watching the sun set on the opposite side. Sailing back into the bay in the shipping channel, I guess it was calm enough to leave the sails up instead of turning the motor back on, and it was really strange, almost dead calm and silent. Standing near the bow of the boat, leaning on the rail, I felt like I should have been singing pirate songs as fog drifted in on the moors. But yes, there was no fog and I’m too much of a chicken shit to just start singing on a boat full of people I don’t know. My dad did say that it felt like we sneaking into port to loot though. I agreed.
Eventually they dropped the sails and we pulled back into the dock powered by the motors. I’ll say, for a four hour ride, it certainly didn’t feel like it. I was actually kind of sad when it ended. That was incredibly amazing and now my parents and I are talking about doing what they call a Windjammer day sail in September. I guess the conditions are even breezier then and it’s a lot wilder of a ride and there’s more opportunities to help the crew sailing. For that one I won’t even take a purse, and I’ll probably just tie my hair up in a bandana like a pirate. It’s certainly a lot more enjoyable of an experience when you’re not eating your hair and worried about your bangs poking you in your eyeball.
That being said, I actually wish that I would have gotten into all this earlier in the summer, because going through the Appledore’s website I see that there is actually a 2-3 week voyage that takes you from Bay City all the way down to the Erie area in Ohio for a Tall Ships celebration down there as well as a reenactment of the Battle of Lake Erie. Ugh, that would be so much fun. If only I had more guts, more experience and the $1500 passage fee. But, I am getting a heck of a lot bolder as the years go by. It just might be that I really find myself going out on a limb next year and doing such a thing. Hmm… would I be able to put “Pirate” as my profession on Facebook then?
Overall, it was an excellent experience and one that I definitely look forward to repeating. It’s strange for being such a homebound person that I can actually see myself on a boat. Maybe it’s the fact that my zodiac is the cancer crab, so I’m a water sign. I’ve always been drawn to water. Maybe I was a pirate in a past life? I’m actually sad now that it’s all over. I feel like I’ve spent most of the month of July by the water ogling ships. Now that I’m back chilling at home though I suppose that finally gives me the time to write. Something that I haven’t done in quite awhile. I have a piece of my final book that takes place on a boat out on the water and I have the urge to write that now that this experience is fresh in my mind, as well as the overwhelming urge to get back into Photoshop for another digital painting. I’ve got this image in my head of one of my characters on the deck of a boat looking out at the moon reflecting on the water.
And, now that I’ve written a novel regarding my first sailing experience, I suppose I shall leave it at that and work on my other projects.
P.S. I now know why Captain Jack Sparrow walks so funny in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and it’s not just the rum. It takes a while to get your ‘sea legs’ and not feel like you’re going to tumble off the side of the ship in the waves, but strangely enough, once you get used to it and you find yourself back on dry and stable land, you actually end up stumbling around expecting the ground beneath your feet to be moving. A very strange feeling, indeed.