9 April 2008

Beagle under sail.

A lot, a lot of people have contacted us asking to sail with us: some want to do science, some just have the kind of enthusiasm to come and be part of something iconic and great. Those of us who've sailed for any length of time know it's not all taut sails against blue skies and sun-warmed decks. As Charles Darwin found out:

7th April 1833
Our usual luck followed us in the shape of a gale of wind; being in the right direction we scudded before it; by this means we run a long distance, but it was miserable work; every place dark wet & the very picture of discomfort.

Yes Charles been there, thinking I could be this miserable staying at home and slamming my hand in a car door every fifteen minutes. At least I'd be warm and dry between the discomfort. Then the sun comes out, the sea calms, the sailing becomes sweet and the wet and discomfort is forgotten.

Sometime after Darwin's lugubrious 7th April entry things perk up and Captain Fitzroy packs the sail on:

9th April 1833
The weather to day is beautiful; it is the first time for three months that studding sails have been set. We attribute all this sun-shine & blue sky to the change in latitude; small although it be. We are at present 380 miles from the Rio Negro.

And there is no finer thing to be doing, no finer place to be than at sea. (The studding-sails are the ones stuck out to left and right on this pic of Beagle - they were rigged in light airs. In tar-talk, she would be described as 'flying stuns'l aloft and alow'. It's like putting the spinnaker up on a modern yacht, the weather's right, the sailing's good - all is right with the world.) Just making the point that you want to come on the Beagle, sometimes it'll be wet, cold, bouncy and cramped. But Darwin put up with that and seasickness for five years. Dude.

Entries from Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary.


CAE said...

My very limited sailing experience has been about 50% lying on a deck in the sun, watching dolphins and drinking wine, and 50% falling off lasers and not being able to turn without dumping. Despite having better luck in bigger boats, I've not been tempted to drop everything and join the Beagle's crew, although I do hope you stop by Vancouver on your journey!

Ros said...

And I do hope the boat gets built. After your Board retreat, any news or new requests for Beagle project fans?


I'm still laughing at the miserable, wet sailor, poor fellow!

Peter Mc said...

That's my happy face, I'll have you know.

Kevin Zelnio said...

But Peter, You will have to admit that there is just something magical about being on the water in 30 feet swells and 40 degree pitches. Scary, but its wild, I've never felt so alive! I love to sit on the deck (or upper deck depending on the waves) and play my guitar as loudly as possible into the wind with the waves crashing as my chorus, drinking heavily of the rum.

Of course the ships I've been on are research vessels, ~270+ feet long, not a schooner or a yacht.