Continuing with our series of informal Q&A’s with the crews of the Tall Ships visting Halifax, here’s some great dialogue with crew members of The Pride of Baltimore II.
Tell us about the effort it takes to maintain the condition of a tall ship?
Answered by Deckhand Jeff Crosby:
There are many phrases used to describe the never ending effort required to maintain a boat “from the workplace away from work” to ‘the hole in the water you pour money into.” PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is no different from the countless feet of varnish to the miles of stitching. It all has to be sanded, painted, sewn, spliced, cleaned, re-sanded, re-painted and so on. The work lists are never ending and the projects are all consuming.
Often people will ask if it is worth all this trouble, this hard work to keep these boat-things in tip-top shape. And frequently when I am sitting, hammer and chisel in hand, covered in wood shavings, staring blankly into a hole in the deck about the same size I am, I will ponder this question. Even with constant attempts at finger removal in the name of boat repair I always come to the same answer, yes. Because for me a boat like PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is like a Rembrandt. It’s a work of art, it is beauty, it is something you want everyone to see looking its finest.
Why do you love your job?
Answered by Engineer Brendan Meagher
Machines don’t feel. They don’t think, and they don’t have a belief system. They rarely do what I tell them, which is as it should be. The mates on board the ship have to deal with fatigue, hunger, anger, bitterness, hormonal cycles and hangovers when getting a job done. When any machines don’t work, I merely have to replace a part, add some fuel or lube some part or another. And since our boat has not thrown away anything – particularly not product manuals – since ever, if I don’t knew how to fix something I can always look it up. Unfortunately for our mates, crew don’t come with manuals, but that is not my problem.
I don’t sail on boats because I like racing and I certainly don’t work on traditional rig boats to fix toilets. I’ve found that most of the systems on boats are mostly logical and easy to fix, despite their general inaccessibility. I sail to travel. I prefer to travel by boat because I’m not in that much of a hurry to get anywhere. And I’ve discovered the pay for fixing the aforementioned inaccessible toilet is pretty good. So at the intersection of boats’ need for someone to fix their uncomplaining machines and my desire to not have to listen to the vast majority of humanity’s complaints lies my satisfaction with being engineer on PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II. And of course, mates can’t ethically beat their subordinates with a wrench. But I can.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your crew?
Answered by deckhand Keith Barkwood
The most rewarding aspect of sailing a tall ship is that it requires you to live in the moment. Virtually all the tasks which befall a sailor require his total concentration. Each waking moment is just as rewarding and important as the next. How can you elevate that first shore shower, in over a month, with it’s endless hot water, above the sunset that silences the quarter deck? Is it any less rewarding to paint the hull, than it is to leap from the bowsprit into crystal clar Bermudian water? Every moment, no matter how minute or grand, is all part of the experience. The best part of this experience is enjoying it with the crew.
After a two week ocean crossing, packed shoulder to shoulder with the same 12 people, when cast upon an exotic new port, who’s company do we enjoy as we explore? The same faces we just sailed the ocean with. When the work day is over and the Ale begins to flow, who sits on the next barstool? Those same faces. So you see, sailing IS the experience. Comraderie is the reward.
We’ll have more with the crew of The Pride of Baltimore II later in the week.