Thursday, July 24, 2014

An afternoon at sea

Two weeks ago, my friend and I went on an Evening Sail on the brig Lady Washington out of Anacortes, Wash. I can't imagine letting a summer go by without at least one sailing now that I've discovered there are tall ships so close to home, thanks to the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, and I had the excuse of needing to refamiliarize myself with exactly what it's like to be on board a brig.

I'd been wondering when the crew of the Lady Washington would start to recognize me. The answer is "now." They not only recognize me, they remember that I'm working on this book. I found this more than a little gratifying.

Tall ships in Anacortes, WA
--the Indian Chieftain
and the Lady Washington

While I think of the Jolly Roger as being slightly larger than the Lady, she's still not a huge ship. A brig is not an enormous vessel like the galleons I've seen in numerous (inaccurate) interpretations of Peter Pan. Spending time in a similar space helps me understand what it would be like to live there alongside a handful of people one considers friends, a few others who don't take sides, and some who can only be considered enemies. It's pretty close quarters for a crew with an average size of fourteen, even if Vivian Drew does have the captain's cabin and often the state room to take refuge in.

As I'd hoped, I found the ship familiar enough now that I could easily imagine what daily life is like for Vivian once she's part of the crew. I wanted to make special note of the background details--the squeak of the pulleys, the sound of footsteps running on the deck, the quality of the wind on a calm day--so that her experience would be real to me (and, I hope, to the readers of her tale). I walked about the ship and thought about waking every morning to realize this was now my home. How I would become accustomed to the intricacies of the rigging and the dimensions of the decks. How I would feel to have a position of value among the pirates of the Jolly Roger.

Even though our sail wasn't a Battle Sail, we got a bonus cannon shot, which was as fun as I remembered from my first sail on the Lady. And I got a good look at the ordnance locker this time, which will prove useful to my story.

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