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Page 59 - Cape Breton Captain: a Treasure

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1992/6/1 (601 reads)
 

rocks and white foam. There were several ships in sight, but none close enough to signal to, all outward bound. Waltzing up and down the lane waiting and hoping for a slant about dark, the wind hauled ahead, and we had to clew up the main royal and furled it and the fore and mizzen topgallant sail. We passed a cold watch fi-om eight to twelve P.M., snow, rain and sleet. In the moming watch the wind hauled up again and we set the three topgallant sails. We had dry decks for a wonder all this watch, only tops of seas coming on board. There is hardly an3'hing dry on the forecastle. I have still a pair or two of dry socks. I had big rubber boots and kept lots of paper in for insoles, as well as wrapped around my feet. I used to dry out the damp? ness in my boots by lighting bits of paper and let them bum inside of them to warm them as well. We foamed through all our watch, still swinging the three topgal? lant sails and going possibly eight or ten knots. There is a heavy sea running and pelted with hail and rain continually, the captain stands the starboard watch, and mind you, he knows his business. He is no kid-glove sailor, but came in through the horsepipe. The wind hauled around in a heavy squall, almost caught us aback, but he kept her off and called all hands and commanded them to shorten sail, running before it taking in the three topgallant sails and reef? ing the upper topsails. We had a hard night of it. Coming on deck at twelve P.M., we were driving into it and after awhile set the main topgallant sail, going a good ten knots, I think. Two of our men are laid up, one with blood poisoning in his finger getting it jammed in a block and is in ter? rible pain; Kelly, the other, with sea boils. There is a great scarcity of tobacco for smoking in the forecastle. Some of the men bought some aft, but it was plug to? bacco and they did not like it. It appears they wanted fine cut tobacco to smoke and make cigarettes of as well. At twelve o'clock noon, it was fine and mild. All hands kept up making sail crowding all sail royals, mastheading the topsails to the fine old chanty of "Haulin' the Bowline" • '"The Bowline Haul." In the first dogwatch, the word is, "All hands short? en sail, clew up, and stow the mainsail" • 'and the fore and mizzen topgallant sails blowing heavy, the decks full of water again, the wind howling, we had to square the yards. All hands toiled on to the port main brace, Dalrymple at the tum, when a huge sea broke over our heads, sweeping both watches off our feet. I and Big Mack got the fiill force of it. Dalrym? ple kept his head and belayed the brace, holding on some way, al? though imder tons of water • a great little fellow, the smallest man in the ship, but the next best to big Mack, every inch a sailor, and without fear, with his heels above his head and hurled against the rail, he held on. I held on to the brace with all my strength, but the terrific weight of water tore it fi-om my grasp; some? times my head up, then my heels, I was washed up against the main hatch, then aft against the fife rail, clutching madly at everything I rolled into the lee scupper. My foot against Big Mack, I face him, saying, "Look out, what are you trying to do; put your foot down my throat?" I was gasping for breath; Dalrymple was gasping for breath too, but held on to the brace like grim death. Kelly and Fritz and Hans and George rolling about the deck just yellow bundles, while a bimch lay around the gear at midship. The mate was the only one that escaped a ducking. He climbed upon the skids when he saw it coming. I got to my feet dazed and half drowned. My leg was very sore where I could hardly stand on my feet. Above the roar of the howling, I heard the mate yelling out, "Port main brace. Come on my bully boys, get a move on." I was in my bare head and my oil jacket was tom to pieces. We got the yard squared at last. The captain came along down off the poop up to his waist in water, went to the head of the brace, hauling to his own chan? ty, "Blow my Bully Boy, Blow." He put new life into us again and again. The sea breaking clear over us, we got them squared eventually. I got a cap from the mate, Mr. Densimore. I don't know how much of my head gear I lost; some was blown away. We had had great weather the past twenty-four hours, fair wind and moderate sea running. I heard from the steward that we made 275 miles under three topsails and foresail in that time. Cape Breton Captain by Captain David A. McLeod can be or? dered directly from the publisher, Breton Books (a division of Cape Breton's Magazine), Wreck Cove, Nova Scotia BOC IHO. (See page 60.) Price $14.25 Includes GST and postage In Canada (foreign orders add $1.50 postage per book). TAYLOR'S DENTURE CLINIC dentures"! CONSTRUCTED, RELINED & REPAIRED J. B. TAYLOR • LICENSED DENTURIST D.V.A. & Dental Plans Accepted SPECIAL DISCOUNTS FOR SENIORS Registered with "TAPS" (Services lor Veterans) MONDAY-FRIDAY: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. (AFTER HOURS ON REQUEST) 92 Charlotte St., Sydney 564-9111 S & M Trucking Ltd. General Trucking • Local & Long Distance • Loader & Trailer Rentals Float, Flatbed, Drop Deck Service r- OFFICE 1 567-2260 FAX 56'-14/1!) • I Operating in: ;|NS, NB, NFLD, PEI, ONT, PQ, iand the U. S. A. Donald Sives Manager L GARAGE & DISPATCH 564-2011 IF BUSY CALL 564-0204 - ;j SYDPORT INDUSTRIAL PARK • SYDNEY • NOVA SCOTIA A message from The Honourable Roland J. Thornhill, MAY I OFFER my warmest congratulations to Cape Breton's Magazine on your twentieth anniversary. All Nova Scotians celebrate with you, the Magazine's achievements in recording and preserving the cultural traditions and natural history of Cape Breton Island. I believe that generations to follow will utilize this rich resource for both scholarly and recreational purposes; as a basis for study, creative writing and teaching materials about our heritage. Best wishes as you embark on the next twenty years! Bonne Anniversaire, Happy Anniversary, Cuirm Bhliadhnail Sona, Roland J. Thornhill Minister Community Services
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