Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
It is a long standing maritime tradition to announce your port arrival by cannon fire. Upon our arrival near the dock we fired the Nina and Pinta Cannons. The cannon will fire a 3 lb. ball over 1 mile. However, due to safety considerations and pollution, we fire hot dog and hamburger buns. This feeds ducks and fish but permits that loud cannon explosion and smoke.
After docking in Chattanooga for a week, I feel it is appropriate to report on the hospitality of this City. As previously reported, we were greeted by the Explorer with a 21st. century escort to the docks. It seems each day brings another welcome by the citizens and business of this community.
We were "boarded" today by pirates. During our tours we were surprised by armed pirates and wenches. As pictured above, they were rather friendly pirates. They arrived with a professional photographer and light crew. I really do not know the reason except it seems they were having great fun with the idea. They entertained our guests as well as prompted many photos by our crew.
The waterfront is centered around the Tennessee Aquarium with several blocks of new piers, docks and parks. We enjoy each day the grass cardboard slides at our dock by many children in the area. It is refreshing to see children at play with such a simple slide. The many school children we receive each day can be a bit of work. However, they are interested and do know some of the Columbus history. We have scavenger hunts for the children. Such as; finding the 4 anchors on the ships, locating the 5 masts and 3 compass. This offers the opportunity to explore the ship while searching for the items.
The community has responded to our daily needs. For example, we do not have showers aboard the ship. However, the YMCA permits us to use their facilities each day if needed. This is a great relief to my crew. The Explorer Ship has invited the crew for cruises on the 21st. century ship on two occasions. Last evening Captain Mike Card invited us aboard the Southern Bell paddle wheel for a diner cruise. The Tennessee Aquarium has permitted us to tour at no charge. If you have not seen the aquarium, do yourself a favor and visit soon.
The downtown area of Chattanooga is wonderful. Many restaurants, art museums and over 12 miles of walk and bike trails are featured in the area. Most impressive is the pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River. The bridge is over 100 years old and was refurbished from a rail to a pedestrian bridge to provide safe and scenic access to the north side of the river. An easy stroll to the north side offers entertainment, restaurants and parks.
I want to thank several visitors to our ship for mentioning my articles and blog. It seems information is traveling fast about my adventure aboard the Nina. I hope to express my joy with the experience aboard this wonderful ship and her crew. Sitting on the caprail late in the evening and listing to the music of the gently rolling ship, time falls away and my Nina reveals her lovely soul.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Due to the crew quarters being 12 ft x 15 ft. for 6 sailors, a quiet beginning to the morning is impossible. Sneaking out of the bunk,trying to dress and start coffee usually results in hitting your my on a beam. I do not always remember that our galley has a head clearance of about 5 ft. and hard timbers are not forgiving.
After a breakfast of steak and eggs, it is time to swab the deck, literally. We hose the deck and ship daily in order for the wooden ship to swell with the water and close cracks in the planking. This is necessary in any wooden ship to prevent leaking. We raise the four flags of the Columbus fleet, swab the deck and prepare for the daily tours.
A typical week day begins with 2-300 children from surrounding schools of any age. We tour the ship with groups of about 20 per guide. The Nina is the most historical of the ships but also the smallest. Columbus loved the Nina and purchased her after his first voyage. She is a sweet ship. After the group tours we quickly grab a lunch and begin the daily visits from people in the area. It does amaze me people will drive 1-3 hours to view of Nina. Today a small family group allowed me to present the Nina and they were a joy. Later, they returned with my lunch from their family picnic. We have had visitors take crew members out for dinner or home. The Nina brings us all together.
Visitors absorb the history about the Nina and Columbus. I have learned so much being aboard the Nina. I tilled the ship from Huntsville and was amazed at the response of the bow. We guide the ship with a tiller and 7 ft. rudder. The ship responses immediate to the tiller. The gentle rock starboard to port and the soul of the ship is felt. Columbus tilled the Nina 25,000 miles and our Nina has sailed over 300,000 miles. The years are sailing off this old sailor.
The evening is consumed with meal preparation, particularly if Cookie has been away from the ship. Last evening we had cheese and meat ravioli, steamed vegetables and fresh fruit. Cookie often prepares hot cider to calm the sailors. However, the evening grog is poured and the crew sails into calm seas. Each evening I sit along the cap rail watching the shipping lanes and the fog roll into the harbor. The air cools over the water and the crescent moon rises above the mountain.
Life aboard the Nina is not our everyday reality. I have a glimpse of the sailors life aboard Nina, without the hardships the young sailors experienced. My daily needs are met, work is easily accomplished and sailing away without cares. The morning brings anew the ship routine until the fine day we sail to our new port.