I had a fantastic weekend sailing Californian! After two months without my beautiful tops’l schooner to carry me to sea, it was wondrous being back aboard, despite the light wind. Saturday we were rather short on crew and thus were unable to set squares. There was a regatta in the bay, so avoiding other boats was our primary concern. We only did one tack outside of the harbour before heading back in. Sunday was far more exciting.
I spent the morning helping to put Christmas lights up on Surprise, which consisted of a few more SNAFUs than usual. Star usually gets a Christmas tree hoisted to her main masthead, but this year Surprise got one as well. We usually hoist the lights up with the royal halyard, but had to use that for the tree in addition to the lights. So we got the tree up to the t’gallant yard where I was stationed sorting out the bundles of lights. I tied the apex of the three strands of lights that would run to the foremast, to the port t’gallant yardarm, and to the starboard yardarm to the pigstick that the tree was tied on to. The tree was then hoisted up, but as the strands of lights followed, they got caught between a couple of blocks and a stay. A bulb popped off of one of the strands and flew away, bouncing off of the maintop and into the bay.
We have a rule here that if anything hits the deck from aloft, whoever dropped it owes the entire crew a round of beer. Well, that wasn’t anyone’s fault, and it didn’t hit the deck. But it’s still terribly frightening to see something fall from aloft.
So, I climbed as high as the shrouds would go to inspect the damage. The bulb took with it the entire connection that runs to the rest of the lights. Plus, the whole strand of lights that would run to the foremast was severed. The skipper decided to forego that forward strand, and Paul came aloft with a wire-stripper and electrical tape and worked some wiring magic on the strand where the bulb had come off.
By that time it was around 1100, time to muster on Californian for sailing. But Chris, the skipper for the day, sent word aloft that we hadn’t sold any tickets and to keep working on the lights. Once that problem with the main t’gallant lights had been sorted, everything else went smoothly. We ran the strands down to the yardarms of the yards below to create a Christmas tree shape out of the mast and yards. Finishing up around 1230, Chris decided we should go sailing anyway, without passengers.
Any crew that wanted to go sailing got to go, and we ended up with around a dozen crew, more than enough to set everything. We got underway at 1330, set sail, and tacked up the bay. We got a lot of tacking practice in, always good after such a long break from sailing, and by 1630 we were back at the dock, furling heads’ls.
I snapped this pretty cool picture while putting the squares in their gear:
Afterwards we headed across the street to our usual watering hole, had a beer, then myself and a couple other shipmates stayed at the Museum for the parade of lights.
Now that it was dark, we could see our handiwork on the Surprise. And. Of course. The one strand that didn’t receive any damage, the starboard t’gallant, wasn’t lit up. Everything else was. What? I don’t even.
Attempting to get over that annoyance, we watched from the aft end of the barge as boat after boat in flashing lights came by. Some went all out, all available real estate covered with lights. A few others were a bit pathetic, but at least they tried. There were quite a few USS Midway impersonators, and loads of “USS Santa Clauses.” It was a great way to end the day.