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> Issue 29 > Page 5 - Wishie Rose: From 50 Years at Sea

Page 5 - Wishie Rose: From 50 Years at Sea

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1981/8/1 (322 reads)

You put it into a burlap bag and then you slapped that all around the ceiling and the partitions of the schooner--get it right white, (What was that for?) Well, the fish wouldn't get damp. You'd be 15 or 20 days going across--the fish will be just as good when you get over as it was when you left. Dry lime picked up the damp? ness. The people in the hold would put the fish in what you called "shingled." You don't pile it, you shingle it. Start along the bulkhead, we'll say, and you keep on going up--and come forward at the same time. And there's so many in the other part of the vessel, doing the same thing. You'd build up and build out at the same time, using the flat fish. The whole schooner was just filled solid full--3000 to 4000 quintals in the hold, some of them. When we'd go over there with fish--Portu? gal or Spain or Italy or France--you weren't allowed to handle the cargo. They'd take the fish out. You'd be working at the schooner--painting or doing some? thing, sewing sails. If you had warm weath? er, you'd have an awning over the spanker boom, a sail, and you'd be sewing sails un? der that. You always had sails torn up, al? ways. From one trip to the other, you'd be sewing sails all the time. There's no sail? ors today. There's nobody can put a decent whipping:on a piece of line, you know. They never learned it. They can't tie knots. In Lunenburg, yes, there's some sea? men up there yet, sailing seamen. 'Cause you take all those powerboats--they don't know anything at all about seamanship, not a thing in the world. You ask someone to tie a square knot and they wouldn't be able to do it. Maybe a square knot, yes-- but they couldn't tie a rose knot, a turk's-head, none of that stuff. You take when the boom's on the saddles, they had what they call gantlines around them. They were all braided with canvas right around, and they were all painted different col? ours . And on the ends, that'd be rose knots, you know. That's all you did--fancy work all the time. But you didn't use that stuff fishing at all. It was all just in what we call the "foreign trade." They were like yachts, those vessels, God Al? mighty, they were painted up to the nines. And they had nothing, only fish and salt, that's all. You'd take over a load of fish and you'd bring back a load of salt, fish? ery salt. One time, from Gibraltar through to Louis? bourg we were 84 days. That's a long time. In the wintertime, you know, too much ice. We sighted Cape Race, Newfoundland, three times, and had to go back out over the Grand Bank to get the ice off--sinking with ice. The frosty weather, making ice on the rigging, on the decks, top struc? ture of the boat, the sails and everything . else. Too heavy,' So you'd go back out into 'the warm weather again and get the ice off it. Go south. You get out in the Gulf Stream and-the ice'd start to go off again. You'd pound some off. Then you'd get straightened away and you'd come in again and strike the same damn thing--ice, frosty weather. Sometimes snow, just plain frost, you know, northwest wind, freezing. (And would you be shovelling snow?) No, no, the water'd keep the snow off, wash it off--sea water, any wind. There'd be maybe a little on the poop deck you'd have to shovel off, but not the main deck down be? low, that's always clean. (You mean the o- cean is coming aboard?) Oh yes, when they're loaded--phew! Sometimes you've got a hard job getting forward on them. They put lifelines running the whole length of the schooner from spar to spar. If you're forward and you want to come aft, you hold the lifeline. You put the lifeline on you before you started pumping. And then when the schooner was pumped out, you'd watch if there was no sea coming to you off your lifeline--go for the cabin. They had no wheelhouse, you know. If you were to the wheel, you were out in the open air, didn't matter what the weather was. But you had plenty of warm clothes, you had your oilskins, you didn't mind it. And if you had any work to do in the rig? ging, you'd go up. There'd be no ice very far up--the spray water wouldn't go very far up. The only time is, you may get a silver thaw--then the rigging would be full of ice, the masthead and all. You'd always have a little wooden mallet, and you'd take that and you'd pound the rig? ging as you'd go up, knock the ice off it. But there was nothing to get frightened of, you know. You had a good vessel--my god, they were good sea boats. The only thing is your supplies, if you're too long. The time that we were 84 days, we took grub from steamers. The last one we took grub from was a ship from St, John's, We didn't really need it, but he said we'd better take some. So they sent aboard a lifeboat with a bunch of stuff, flour, butter, mo? lasses, (You had no idea how long you'd be out there,) We didn't know, no. We had plenty of water--she had good water tanks. You weren't allowed to use any water for washing your face or clothes, you know. You had barrels on deck to catch rainwater for washing clothes. For making bread, the cook always used saltwater, ocean water. Made better bread, beautiful homemade bread. So it wasn't so tough. You only had the trouble that you expect. Because you know what the ocean is like. It's no picnic, an3rways, sometimes. There's a place out there, just this side of the Azores--that's called the "Stormy Region," the "Rolling 40s" they call it-- up in the 40 latitude, you know. And we got too close to it, I guess, somehow or other, and there was no wind--we lost the wind altogether--but thunder and lightning, and sea--oh, my god--the sea. There was an awful tide out there. So we were three days there with everything tied up on the booms. And you" couldn't get anything on the table, you couldn't keep anything on the stove--rolling, you see--no way to
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