Thursday, April 10, 2008

Homeward Bound

A lot of people have expressed interest in my job, so I thought I would share in a little more detail what it is that I do. First, though a couple photos.

We took a trip of the most amazing high schoolers to the Bahamas and saw all sorts of great things including large piles of conch that made me want to wear pink and think pink and be pink all day long. This may be influenced by the fact that I recently finished 'Skinny Legs and All' by Tom Robbins - an excellent read I would recommend to anyone.

I finished my father's Christmas socks, making the close of the Christmas knitting official. These are the Mock Wave Socks from Favorite Socks. I knit them on size 1 needles with Trekking Pro Natura yarn. More details can be found on ravelry or by request as I am a little tired and honestly can't be bothered to look them all up.

Onto my job and what it is that I do. Basically I am a deckhand on tallships (traditionally rigged vessels). This amounts to taking part in the every day running of the vessel as well as doing what other people tell me to do. On my current boat, the S/V Denis Sullivan, we took out programs with adults and high schoolers in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas until late March. Then we started the transit north. The boat's home port is in Milwaukee, WI but since the sailing in the Great Lakes is non-existent in the winter the boat goes south with the birds. Our stops have included Fort Pierce, FL; Brunswick, GA; Beaufort, NC; and Baltimore, MD where I am now. Before we reach Milwaukee we will be stopping in Woods Hole, MA; Lunenburg, Nova Scotia; Quebec City, Quebec; Port Huron, I don't know which state; and probably somewhere else in the Lakes. We'll stop generally for around three days in each port depending on weather and a number of other variables. So that's the schedule.

The really great part of my job is getting the boat from place to place. This is generally known as 'transiting.' While underway we break into watches, essentially shifts. There are three watches made up of at least three people each. The watch schedule is as follows:
Each watch, or group of three people works one watch period then has two off. So you basically work 9 hours a day or so, the 9 hours are just spread around you get a 10 hour lunch in between.

While on watch we take turns to steer, do lookout, and every hour we do a boat check. Boat checks include a physical check of all compartments in the boat as well as weather observations and plotting our position on the chart (nautical map).

Off watch time is your's to do with what you will. For the most part people sleep, but you hit a point where you can't sleep any more. This is when computers come out to watch movies on, or a lot of reading occurs. I often sit in my bunk and listen to books on tape and knit. Sometimes if the seas aren't to rough and the sun is out I'll take my chair on deck for a little knitting.

Meals occur between watches and are prepared by the cook (!) who doesn't stand watch. The oncoming watch eats a little before their turn on deck and the offgoing and standby watches eat after that. This way everyone gets to sit and eat a leisurely meal and the navigation and safety of the boat isn't neglected.

Sometimes it is necessary to go aloft to do some work or sort something out. I love working aloft and take every opportunity to go, as it affords a much better view than on deck. Here I am sporting my new t-shirt my mother bought me. I do love the color orange.

That was a brief overview of what I do, but hopefully it answered some questions. If anyone wants to know more please ask. I love to my job and I love to talk about what I do and if you're lucky I won't be as tired when I reply and will do so with more eloquence.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Fish Out of Water

For the second time in as many months I find myself quite literally a fish out of water. I am currently aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan and we are hauled out in West Palm Beach, FL for our three year Coast Guard inspection. This entails a day of sitting around while the boat is hauled out and a week of long days with lots of work that can only be done while the boat is out of the water - like re-caulking some of the hull seams.

The long hours also mean that in the evening I am too exhausted to do much more than knit and watch a movie or some television in the crew lounge. Television usually wins because it is such a novelty these days. We don't have TV on the boat so the idea of watching something like Gray's Anatomy is novel and exciting. I am so close to closing out Christmas '07 it hurts. Today I put my Uncle's socks in the mail along with an altered Odysseus sweater. All I have left is 3/4 of the second sock for my father and Christmas will officially be behind me.

Penelope was not as pleased as she could be with the neckline on the original Odysseus sweater, and I don't blame her the neckline was basically crap, so I did a little tinking and a little tinkering and have come up with something that will hopefully work much better.

In other news I have officially put my feet in the Atlantic. I have done this before but only once, this time around I have repeatedly put my feet in the Atlantic. I have also gone snorkeling for the first time in my life - how cool is snorkeling?! While I am a West Coast girl through and through the East Coast and the Atlantic aren't as bad as previously imagined - much warmer and saltier but otherwise delightful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Dear tenacious reader,
Why are you still here? I haven't posted in almost two months. Go knit something. I do however have something of an explanation. These past four months have been the funnest happiest months I've had in awhile and instead of worrying about writing it all down and taking all the right photos and sharing them in a meaningful format I went out and had a blast. There you have it. I'm heading to the Bahamas to work on another boat in January and I may or may not post from there (let's be honest I probably won't) but since I am home right now with very little to do other than panic about Christmas knitting I will likely do something of an update. We'll see.

At any rate Happy Christmahannukwanzika to everyone and may all your recipients receive completed gifts, I know mine won't.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Photo Essay

Someones Christmas present!

My birthday present to myself. Those who know me will note the green and orange qualities of my skateboard.

I made the trek while in San Francisco and it was totally worth it. I would live here if I could.

The Privateer Lynx braced sharp around, sailing close to the wind.

View of the deck of the Star of India from the Main Royal yard (that's the highest place you can climb to on the boat).

Battle Sail in San Diego Harbor with the Californian and the HMS Surprise (the boat from Master and Commander).

There are a few more photos in no particular order on my flickr account, Christineolea, for them as are interested.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Paving the Road

Every time we come into port I have every intention of posting and they my laziness wins. As it is I am four ports later than the last time I posted and no update.

It's late and I'm tired so this is going to be quick.

I had a day off in San Francisco/Sausalito so I headed over to Artfibers and marveled at the glory of their yarn. I got some fabulous red mohair/silk laceweight. I do love laceweight. I also took up the skateboard.

After Sausalito we headed down the coast to Moss Landing. Nothing much happening in Moss Landing except the sea lions we docked next to that never shut up. Ever.

Next was Morro Bay. Morro Bay was great, very friendly people, nice town, good general vibe. I bought myself a skateboard for my birthday. It's orange and I love it. Knitting has been slow, I'm not really feeling the socks I'm making right now and I'm waiting on some yarn that I ordered and age ago to keep working on My Brother's Sweater. The plan is to start some different socks I like more and set the current ones aside for the time being.

After Morro Bay was Long Beach and Catalina. Nothing too exciting, we had a day off on Catalina, which was lovely. I did some hiking, some snoozing, some knitting and some eating of ice cream. You can't ask for much more on a day off.

Now I find myself in San Diego where it has not completely burned to the ground. The sailing has been pretty good and today the HMS Surprise (the boat from Master and Commander) came out to play, pretty pretty boat. The knitting is still at something of a standstill and I'm starting to panic because Christmas is coming ever faster and some of my family have rather large feet.

Soon (ha) I'll even have pictures of all my adventures to share. As it is right now you'll have to do with half-assed exposition.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


This is a long one folks, it's been awhile since I've been in touch with the outside world and there is a lot to report.

When I last left you we were having a day off in Portland. That was good times, saw some family, saw some friends, general merriment all around. Soon though, it was time for us to leave Portland. In order to do this we had to go under I-5. In order for our 96 feet to fit under I-5 they have to raise the bridge. That's right folks I have officially stopped traffic on Interstate 5, twice (coming and going). If that's not something to tick off the list of things to do in my life I don't know what is.

On our way back out the rolling Columbia we docked at a dock that is literally in the middle of nowhere. Some yacht club built this dock on the Columbia for their members, but others can use it if no one is there. Pretty funny to dock on a dock completely unconnected with land.

We passed the Please Please Me. You read it right.

Then there was our transit. This transit, from Ilwaco, WA to San Francisco, CA is the longest we will be taking this season. We left Monday midday and arrived Thursday night. What a great transit. First we waited out some weather in Ilwaco then made our way across the bar. The Columbia River Bar is one of the most infamous bar crossings in the world so of course all kinds of precautions were taken. I gotta say though that the hype far outshone the actual thing. It was a little rocky but not too bad and we made it out without any incident.

The first couple days of our transit were wet. We were still experiencing the seas left behind by the weather we waited out. There was some rain but mostly there was just a lot of spray. This boat has the wettest foredeck of any boat I've been on so far. The bow cuts through the waves like a knife through hot butter, unfortunately this means a lot of spray and splash come up over the deck. This boat also has the leakiest fo'c'sle of any boat I've been on so far. Take five wet sailors, add wet foul weather gear, steep for two days in leaky fo'c'sle dousing with more water as needed. Luckily the last couple days were fabulous. The sun came out, the seas calmed down and my foulies actually dried. I even managed to sit on deck in the sunshine on my offwatch and knit for awhile.
While transiting we break into a watch system, this means that someone is driving the boat 24 hours a day and we all take it in turns. I was on the 12-4 watch which means I stood watch in the middle of the day and the middle of the night. This also means that I worked 8 out of every 24 hours. Needless to say I got a lot of sleep, did a lot of knitting and read a lot. I love transits.

The last day of the transit was the best by far. During my watch JP and went aloft to unfurl the square topsail, this is an easy job that makes for good skylarking. When we arrived at the crosstrees we were awarded the view of a veritable minefield of whale spouts. They were everywhere. As it happens the Lynx breaks for whales so we slowed down to have a look and were rewarded in spades. Whales spouting, whales breaching, whale flukes, saw so many whales it almost got old. Almost. Then the dolphins came. If there is any animal I would like to come back as it is a dolphin, they seem to just have fun all the time. Then there were the sea lions. We found ourselves in the middle of a fabulous party and everyone was having a blast.

Due to my fabulous photography skills all I really have are pictures of where whales used to be but take my word for it, there were lots and they were within 100 yards or so. So cool.

The last couple days we've been doing daysails in the San Francisco Bay. Good wind, good sailing and the Blue Angels are in town for Fleet Week so that is fun too. Nothing quite like a good sail with the Blue Angels and other interesting planes flying all around.

Oh, and I finished my Love Lace socks. I am wearing them right now in fact. I don't have all the details in front of me, but they are the latest installment of the Rockin Sock Club, the best club in the world. Here they are off the coast of California.

My energy wanes and my bunk is calling my name. Hopefully I'll be able to update sooner next time so my post won't be so epic, we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

United At Last

In other news Penelope has finally recieved her sweater. She held off the other suitors just long enough and is happy to be reunited with her Odysseus, changed though he may be.

Pattern: Elizabeth's Percentage System. The lace insert is from Barbara G. Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns I don't remember what they are called and don't have the book to hand but they're in there.
Yarn: Koigu Premium Merino, 7 hanks.
Needles: size 3
The neck might need a little work, Penelope is going to wear it for awhile and see what she thinks. It's a bit funny and doesn't sit quite right. To be honest the neck is where I deviated from Elizabeth Zimmerman and things went wrong. I told Penelope that I won't be able to do anything about it until Christmas anyway so she should just wear it and see if she wants it changed. If I'm lucky she'll come to love the wonky neck, even if she doesn't right now.
At any rate I'm pretty pleased with the results and the Koigu makes a wonderful fabric. The best part, however, is the 5 hanks of Koigu I have left that I'm keeping as my fee (that and Penelope isn't much of a knitter and doesn't want them anyway). What will I do with my five fabulous hanks of Koigu? I'll have to think about it.

I also want to say thanks to everyone for the comments on my knitty article. I also find felting by hand to be a great stress reliever and a good way to feel better about sitting around and knitting all the time.