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Friday, November 19, 2010

Tripping Over History

I consider myself somewhat of a history buff, but I must admit "tripping" over history on a recent trip to Nashville, TN. Ashamed of myself is the best description.

Having to arrive in Nashville, TN on Wednesday evening for an appointment for my knee replacement, we planned to spend the weekend. Now we are well accustomed to weekends in the Music City, however, a Saturday begged us to see something new.

I suggested we visit the Hermitage. During the many visits to this city we had not taken in the Hermitage. We arrived at the visitor center at bit hesitant not knowing what to encounter. Again, I fell in love with history. From the short film story of Andrew Jackson and family to walking the 1,100 acres of the farm, I was back in the 1700's. I am ashamed of my lack knowledge of this period of history. We began our walk along gravel paths to the home of President Andrew Jackson. The huge cedar trees lining the walk were a real surprise. I would expect live oaks. However, the cedars grow rapidly and some are over 75 ft. tall. Many were damaged in high winds a few years ago.

We were greeted at the mansion by two lovely ladies in full period dress. I could not resist sharing my short experience as a docent aboard the Nina, Columbus ship. They seemed quite impressed by my experience and dedication. I do have a new found respect for those volunteering for such guide duties.

We entered the Mansion for the guided viewing. However, a faint ghost, like a shadow, appeared in the wavy window pain in the drawing room. I was pulled into the 1700's. How I would like to ask her about life here. I was greeted by a slight, black woman of many years named Hanna Jackson. She explained she would be our guide for the first floor of the Mansion. She began by telling her story as the House Slave of the President and Rachel Jackson. It seemed she has served the Mansion in this capacity since the construction. She was well favored by the President and Rachael and served for her lifetime. She was so warm and knowledgeable, we did not discuss her age. She did seem quite preserved. She explained that all the furniture, books and artifacts are original to the Mansion and that President Jackson would recognize all upon his return to the Mansion. We continued our tour of the Mansion with Miss Hannah. I seem to connect with these shadows of history.
Upon walking up the stair case to the second floor we were once again greeted by Hannah. There must be another set of stairs for she just walked down the central hall to greet us once again. We were enlightened by Hannah's explanation of the original wall paper hanging in the central hall and its excellent condition. She encouraged us to walk the garden area upon our exit from the Mansion. She turned to greet another couple and was absorbed into the Mansion.

We walked quietly along the garden paths to a gazebo. There we were greeted by another guide, Alfred Jackson. It seems that Mr. Alfred has lived on the farm for a life time. He explained the graves of the President and Rachel and many other family members. His knowledge was over whelming, like he lived it each day. As we thanked Alfred and left the garden we did notice a small grave stone to the side of the President and Rachael's grave. Here lay Alfred Jackson who died at age 98 while serving the Mansion and the President. Hmmmmmmm!
Our walking tour took us to the Sinking Creek, the water supply for the farm. Over 1,000 acres, numerous cabins and the Mansion required a consistent water supply. Along side a mowed field we encounter recent scarecrows along the wood line. Again, thrown back into the 1700's with the starlings, field and scarecrows. I was intrigued by the style of the scarecrows with clothing of the period. It seems that they continue to guard the field and the square plot nearby which was the location of the cotton gin. Alas, I did not know their names but I did feel welcome along side.
We walked for a time around the grounds making our way back to our daily existence. I can only say that Miss Hannah and Mr. Alfred made our day much more enjoyable. Please take the time to visit the Hermitage and while there give our warm regards to Hannah and Alfred.

Happy trails,

Barry & Denise

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Farewell to the Nina

All things of importance have an ending. Mine occurred at 9 am. 11/5/2010. The departure of seaman Young from the Nina was an emotional event, particularly for me. I have experienced 5 weeks and endured the demands of crewing a 65 ft. sailing vessel with 4 crew members and a captain. This is a bit arduous but not beyond enjoyment of a unique experience.

I tried to summarise my crew in prior articles in this blog and Internet newspaper. I have been astonished to have visitors to our ship from all ports ask for "Barry" and the guy from Kentucky who is writing articles. Much to my surprise they have been reading about the Nina and my experience. It is rewarding to be read when the purpose of my articles is to document for myself and friends my unique experience as crew of the Nina.

I must summarize my Crew once again:

Captain: Kyle a highly experience sailor of vessels over 100 tons with experience in all seas. A great leader for the crew as well as a friend. While hard work is expected, Kyle is always on board to lend a hand and teach seamanship.

1st Mate: Vic is a sailor of sailors. Having boarded the Nina in California for an 8 week vacation and remained aboard for over 2 years, he is committed to the Nina and the Columbus Foundation. I answered directly to Vic but he was an inspiration and teacher to this old sailor from Vietnam.

Senior Crew: Andrew, only 2 months with the Nina, Andrew is the senior crew member. While

a young man, 21 yrs, he has the gift of learning and an excellent work ethic. He leads by example being on deck prior to any other crew member. No matter the celebration of the prior evening. We are sailors, remember!

Alan: A 20 yr. maritime sailor, Alan is the most experienced of the crew. Alan has sailed all seas on numerous ships including the old boom ships, tankers and cargo vessels. Having started sailing at age 17, Alan has grown up on the sea. Alan is distinguished by the 3 ft. pony tail which has not been trimmed in 20 years. His life along the coast of Florida is perfect for this shell back.

Constance: A mighty "Cookie" as well described in a previous article. She was missed by a spoiled crew and our hope is she will return to fight another day. We hope she finds enjoyment in retirement years, no matter what her adventures.

Barry: A 4 year sailor, in Vietnam having experienced the brown water navy, has finally landed aboard a sailing vessel. This old sailor has had many first experiences. One of this is working with 1,000 of the public daily, including many school children. While the crew is not paid, we do share in tips. I have never had a tip in my working life. Now I have a new appreciation for those who depend on tips for a living. I have learned the humbling life of sailor from Alan and understand like never before, the demands of the public and patience required by the servers of the public. I will remember this each time I pay a check and include a generous tip.

Farewell to our "ship's Mouse". Alas, our ship's mouse expired one day recently, having put his nose where it did not belong. After eating our bread the mouse was tempted by peanut butter. However, he was a seasoned sailor and we felt he desired an internment at sea. Therefore, we fashioned a plank with sail cloth shroud for his internment. All hands were on deck for the ceremony. Our Captained officiated saying a portion of the poem "My Captain, my Captain". At the property moment, the shroud was loosed and the body was interned in the Tennessee River. A solemn moment experienced by all.

Farewell to all who have read my articles. I hope to chronicle future adventures along my voyages around this wonderful country.

Happy Sailing to all,


Monday, November 1, 2010

Recent Happenings

Activity along the river and The Nina have overwhelmed the crew. In recent days we have toured the ships with over 2,000 school children of all ages. The school tours are the busiest days but also very rewarding. The curiosity of the children coupled with the uniqueness of the ships results in a rewarding day but a bit exhausting. The ships will relocate to Knoxville, TN in a few days and the number of visitors should continue at a minimum of 1,500 per day.


At each port the ship usually experiences uninvited visitors. Now considering we live aboard the Nina with little, if any privacy, uninvited visitors at 3 am creates high emotions. At 3 am on a recent morning our crew was awakened by our First Mate, Vic, rudely instructing two intruders to exit the ship. A bit funny considering the intruders were dressed in Lederhosen(October feast) and Fedora's. One startled visitor crashed his head into the Stern castle overhead (roof) which is hard wood and capable of a wound. As he staggered off the Nina the other intruder wanted to compliment us on the workmanship of the Nina. Needless to say, he was quickly ejected from the Nina. A dip in the river would be rewarding, except we would be required to rescue them. Something about water and alcohol does not mix.

Adjacent to our dock the city maintains a hill which attracts hundreds of children and adults. The fun is provided by a wide variety of cardboard sleds. A trip back in time with cardboard slides along a grassy hill. We all enjoy watching the kids be kids without phones, computers and video games. The laughter continues all day on weekends and each evening with the wonderful weather we have experienced.

For more details concerning our tour and ships, check out

Happy sailing,