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Page 2 - Wishie Rose: From 50 Years at Sea

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1981/8/1 (1116 reads)
 

had the balloon, you had the gaff topsail, and you had a part of the staysail. You had to look after it, see it was in order. You had to stow it up at nighttime, take it in. You'd have to learn how to tie the knots and do everything that was supposed to be done. Then the mate and the bosun, they'd all tell you what to do. They would sometimes help you out when they were a good bunch. They'd show you what you had to do if you get with a bunch of strangers. So therefore, you could get along all right. But I remember one night--I thought I was a big shot an5'way, you know--I had that kind of a queer notion--I thought I knew what to do. We were crossing the Gulf Stream, It worked out bad weather, and the captain said, "I think we'll stow the top? sails before dark--we're not going to use them tonight, anyway." So we clewed up the topsails. The captain said, "Rose, I'll go up and stow your topsail for you, tie them up, you never did much of that," I said, "No, captain, I'm gonna go up," I went up, you see, and I didn't know how to do it right, I did it, but I wasn't fast enough. Two o'clock in the morning, it was bad-- thunder and lightning and rain, wind--not a hell of a lot of wind, but enough. And I heard a hullabaloo on deck. So I jumped out of bunk and put my knife sheath around .me, and I went up on deck. The lashing'd come off the topsail, blowing right across the rigging. So I went for the rigging. The mate said, "No, no, I'm going to go up," I said, "No, if I can't do it, you can come up." Muzzling the jib in a squall on the schooner "Effie M. Morrissey," December, 1912. Well, I got up there, and I didn't mind when she rolled to leeward with the sea, but when she'd go back against the wind, almost take your breath. From the cross- tree up to the top of the masthead was 9 feet. That was all roped in--you couldn't fall off, hard job to fall off. But this goldam topsail--I got up, got a couple of gantlines hooked, and then the wind would take it away from me. So then I got sea? sick. One time I was scared I was gonna die, and the next thing I was scared I wasn't going to die--I was that sick. But finally, you know, I had heard the men talking about it--if you couldn't get a topsail stowed good, just rip it with a knife and let the wind out of it. So I just took my knife and I stuck it in back behind me in the canvas. Well, what a screech of wind came out of that sail! Then I rolled them all in by the masthead, got them-tied up, about half of them hang- Come for the summer, stay for the fall colours- you are welcome to Victoria County Lawr?nce Bay "CIAD MILi FAILTE" One Hundred Thousand Welcomes VICTORIA COUNTY The Worden, Councilors and Residents Take time to meet the people of Victoria County.
Cape Breton's Magazine
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