Newport on the horizon

A familiar face. The Bowdoin from Castine, Maine sails off our starboard side. She was headed to New York.

A familiar face. The Bowdoin from Castine, Maine sails off our starboard side. She was headed to New York.

After four days of sea trials, I‘d say the Morgan, the captain, and her crew are ready to set sail for Newport, RI.

The past 10 days have screamed by and although it has been a steep learning curve, I can finally say that I’m starting to get the hang of sailing a square rigger.

Sam, the first mate, repeatedly says that the Charles W. Morgan is “not a beginner’s ship.” He’s definitely right. That being said, I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far. I’ve definitely gained an appreciation for the hundreds of lines that control thousands of individual moving parts.

During the final sea trial, the skies were overcast and a steady breeze kept our sails full. In my opinion it was perfect sailing weather. Everyone aboard the boat including the guests were smiling. It felt good.

Under sail and healing like a champ!

Under sail and heeling like a champ!

Hartford News Anchor Denise D’Ascenzo was aboard with a cameraman. As a fellow reporter, it was great to chat with someone who loves to share stories. She repeatedly said how “amazing” it was to be on the Morgan. She interviewed me, the captain, and the mate. The story will run on next Monday night, so look for us on the Channel 3 evening news! The stowaway is going to be famous! Let’s be honest though – the ship is the real star of this story.

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Stowaway selfie with News Channel 3 Anchor Denise D’Ascenzo

One of the greatest things about sailing aboard the Charles W. Morgan is watching her tack. On a square rigged vessel, there are these massive horizontal spars called “yards” that hold the sails and rigging. There are four yards per mast. When the call goes out to tack, the deckhands scurry to the working braces located at the mid and aft sections of the ship. When the ship changes its course, thousands of pounds of rigging need to be adjusted. The carefully coordinated crew hauls on the lines, and all the yards pivot in the same direction to catch the wind. It’s truly amazing to watch them move in one fluid motion. Here’s a view of the foremast during a tack:

Charles W Morgan Port Tack

Like any ship, there is a chain of command, but what makes the Morgan so special is how relaxed the crew is. They’re also very creative. Every day I look forward to a new nickname. Today it was Baggie Wrinkle.

When we return home from a day’s sail, a crowd often gathers at the pier. When the ship shuts down and everything has been stowed away, it’s not uncommon for the captain to hang out and strike up causal conversations with passersby. I’ve always thought of sea captains as strict and intimidating, but Captain Kip is very approachable and friendly. He’s a fellow “Maniac” (native Mainer, or Main-uh, as some folk say). I enjoy the fact that after a long day of shouting orders, the skipper and the mates are happy to sit around the same table with us and make jokes and laugh until sundown.

Captain Kip takes the stage

Captain Kip takes the stage

Tomorrow is a big day. I’ve been called on to speak at a press conference which will be attended probably by hundreds of people including Connecticut’s U.S. Senators. I’m not nervous, but I am reminded of how significant this voyage is going to be, and the adventures that are soon to come.

With the sea trials wrapped up, and Newport only a day’s sail away, it’s time to finally begin the voyage! But for now, I think I might join the crew for one last night in New London.

-Ryan the Stowaway (aka Baggie Wrinkle)