Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 39 > Page 65 - Adventures of Capt. David A. MacLeod

Page 65 - Adventures of Capt. David A. MacLeod

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/6/1 (178 reads)

off and set up making,it look better and safer. We were getting things in ship shape, rebent the fore? sail, and a new main top-mast staysail, and the 2nd mate's watch went below. The wind now was Nor'west and blowing fresh. We set the five topsails and whole foresail. I was in the mate's watch, and was often with the boswain. There were only two men in the mate's watch that could steer so the boswain went to the wheel. He said he would ask the Captain if I could take a lee wheel, so I could learn. So first dog watch the boswain told me to come aft. I went into the fo'castle to get my cap, and then walked aft on the weather side of the poop, not knowing any bet? ter, when the mate says, "Look, David, when walk? ing aft to go to the wheel always go to lee side." The Captain said something but I did not hear it. The boswain said, "You must not talk here--Remem- ber." Then he said, ""Can you box the compass." I said I could. "How is she heading?" "S.S.E." Now says he, "Don't watch the compass too much. Watch the clouds and the run of the sea." We had the yards checked in a few points, but she steered fine, a diamond screw wheel. After being about an hour at lee wheel, he, the boswain, came on the lee side. I went on the weather side. When she would settle aft in the sea, you would need to keep a firm grip, but coming up again to meet her easy, not too much wheel. And I learned to steer in one watch, thanks to the good Shetland Island boswain. From that on I took my trick at the wheel in all kinds of weather. From that out we had fine weather, all the Nor- west wind we could carry. The boswain learned me how to make short splices, made a lot of beckets, and went aloft with him and put them on the jack- stays, on the foreyard, and fore top-sail yards, and on the main upper and lower top-sail yards. He learnt me how to make grommet straps, how to get the right length to cut the strands, how to make long splice, and I helped him put turk's heads on the foot ropes. He was a great sailor, a Navy Re? serve man, but had been a lot in American ships. He slept and ate in the half deck with the carpen? ter, a Russian Finn, who was neither a carpenter nor a sailor. I often used to go into the boswain room in the dog watch and listen to his stories. More Sailing Days This was the ship Thiorva, Captain Graham, a fine new ship, and a good ship for a good man to go in, but if you were a soldier or a haymaker, look out. Off Lands End in a half gale of wind, we carried away the foretack and were in danger of losing both foreyard and foresail. The 2nd mate had charge, but the clue garnet got jammed. The Cap? tain came forward, and took charge, soon showing he was a sailor and knew his business. There was a heavy sea running, and we were all up on the for? ward house cluing it up. After awhile we got anoth? er foretack hooked on. I went in a bowline to do it. We could not get the clue of the sail up, as the block was jammed and too far from the foot rope to hook on. The fault was in the ironwork; that caused it to part. It was rather a ticklish job for the foresail was flapping-about in all directions. Captain Graham was engaged with the Highway Board some 30 years afterwards and came in to our store at Cleveland. I knew him at once, but he did not remember me until I mentioned about the foretack. He stayed with me all night. "You never told me you belonged to Cape Breton," he said. "No," said I, "just put on the Articles 'belonging to Nova Scotia.'" Look, Reader, I went to sea in 1873 and in the ship Ragner. It was a standing joke to have a run on a Cape Bretoner. Unfortunately, I was al? ways thin-skinned and if you wanted a scrap, I would not go much out of the way to avoid it. Kind of took to it, like an old maid to drinking strong tea. And for that reason when it started about Rory and the Bear, and Cape Breton, there would be noise at once, but remember, this only happened on one ship. I was young and a greenhorn, but I got over it. But, I often felt like a dog that had been kicked so often that if you went to pat him on the head he looked suspicious at first at you. This was while I was in the ship Ragner. I will just say this that Captain Joe Foster was no Sun? day School Teacher, mind you. When the ship Thiorva arrived in London in Novem? ber, 1876, I was paid off. I was told to go back on board by Captain Graham, but I joined the ship Eastern Hobbies &Craf; ts Good Selection of Yarns, Including Patons Beehive, Jaeger, Lopi, Gemini * Knitting Accessories Grumbacher Oil Painting Supplies Craft Supplies * Wedding & Anniversary Supplies Stamped Goods * Handcrafted Gift'Items 34 Commercial St., Glace Bay * 849-3875 3471 Plummer Ave., New Waterford * 862-8867 Bay Natural FocxJs "For Your Health's Sake Buy Natural Foods" Great Selection of Vitamins and Minerals Beer- and Wine-Making Supplies , _Bulk Herbs and Spices by the Ounce or Pound ,C,ap.Order?iAccepted by Mail, or Phone 849-4387 "' GLACE BAY: 35 COMMERCIAL STREET SYDNEY: ACROSS FROM K-MART, TOWARD SCHWARTZ Cape Breton Mental Health Centre Main Location: 1st Floor, Cape Breton Hospital, Sydney River SatelHte Clinics Serve These Areas: North Sydney, Glace Bay, New Waterford, Neil's Harbour, Ingonish, Cheticamp, Baddeck, St. Peter's Services: Psychotherapy, Individual Counselling, Marriage & Family Counselling, Group Therapy, Consultation to Agencies, Schools, jetc. Drug Therapy, Forensic Assessment, Psychological Testing, Parenting, Children's Services Referrals accepted from all sources. You can even refer yolirself. Please Call 562-3202 or 562-3110 or 562-3333 (65)
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