Stadstrad Lehmkuhl pulled along side us

Posted on by lindaj

july 22, 2012

The smell of bacon and eggs wafted through the ship today, as sunday breakfast was prepared before the morning watch started. The weather has continued to favor us, with a warm sun and a cool breeze throughout the day. Maintenance work continues to be done as long as their is good weather, and learning about the method in which the ship is kept in order is fascinating. Hot tar is boiled in a kettle to a thin liquid as the boards in the weather deck are pounded at their seams to fill with tar and reseal them to make them water-tight. The first officer has reported that we will expect wind later in the evening, so all the ship’s canvas are let loose, revealing the ship’s true shape. Smiles abound on ship as her sails are released.

Something so abstract as unfurling the sails should by all accounts be a mundane and ineffective task, but there is a psychological effect on everyone who sees the Götheborg’s cream colored sheets stretched across the yard. We had a bit of excitement today around noon as the Stadstrad Lehmkuhl, an impressive Norwegian sailing ship that was docked next to us in Brest, pulled along side us. The ship, built in 1914, is 95 meters long and cuts through the water like a shark. Her white hull and polished brass fittings shine bright as she pulls ahead of us and overtakes us, deckhands on both ships waving at each other. She jokingly taunts us by raising a pirate flag, as the Götheborg raises her largest Swedish banner to the stern. An unspoken bond and respect is shared by large sailing vessels, as there are so few left in the world. This respect is not lost on either crew as we let her pass, soon to see her in Bremerhaven.

The ship’s bell chimes 8 bells, as each watch changes during the day. Crew at the helm keep the ship steady as the crew member on watch stands at the bow, watching through binoculars at the cool blue horizon. The comforting mix of warm and cool from the sun and ocean breeze continues to attract people on the weather deck. Ropes lie everywhere as another bowsprit mast is taken from storage and hoisted high in the rigging on the bow of the ship. The Captain and his young son lay together on deck, relaxing and talking quietly. Rope tying lessons, handicrafts, dice and backgammon are all enjoyed by the crew. High above on the rigging, crew are spotted dotting the rope work, sitting quietly and enjoying the solace. It is no secret that furling the sails aloft tends to take longer on days such as this, where the view cannot be ignored, and the crew’s mind and eyes wander from the task at hand, and to the breathtaking view before them.

The sun creeps closer to the waterline as evening approaches. There is still much to do, and the Götheborg ever found wanting of tasks to be done, and lessons to teach. Eight bells ring out again as the night watch musters for work. The circle is never broken onboard the ship, and the days seem to run together without any attention paid to their importance. People turn away from their numerous electronic devices and focus on the true relationships with their fellow crew-mates as the bond grows ever stronger, and as we draw ever closer to our destination.


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