August 5, 2014

Sailing on the Morgan is all about WORK!

Sailing a square rigged ship like the Charles W. Morgan is all about the work. Let me re-phrase that, it's all about the work, the sails, the wood, and the rigging! Rope holds it all together, such a thin line, seemingly fragile yet utterly strong, that has changed the face of human history.
I recently had the opportunity to sail on this ship, and I was impressed by the amount of sheer sweat power it takes to get her moving. I spent most of the day running around the deck, trying to draw the sailors as they heaved, pulled, pushed, climbed, unfurled, straightened out, bent, and maneuvered those cotton sails to their will. Like trying to control the breath of life.
As I was drawing, another voyager, Robert Bachelor, and I spoke a little about the poetry of the winds filling the sails, and he mentioned Buddhist breath meditation: the philosophy that simple mindfulness of breath in meditation can lead to enlightenment, and knowing. Watching the white sails unfurling against a whiter sky, I felt certain that this must be true.
If we could all pull together as a species to heal our environment in the way that this crew pulls together to get the sails up on the Morgan, I think there might just be a chance of leaving something worth having to the next generation. And that is the message of this voyage. Why else sail a whaling ship again? If only to prove that if human ingenuity can decimate a species through hunting, we can surely save it through good stewardship. At least, I believe this is still possible. And so, apparently, does the staff of Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.
The crew pulls the rigging to control the billowing sails.
A good work shanty never fails to help things along either. The crew sang out "Round the Corner Sally!" as they pulled and heaved the rigging. The call out and repeat of the traditional work shanty rang out across the deck. The shanty singing kept spirits high and muscles strong as the sailors pulled the line to get the sails where they needed to be. You could just see the adrenaline pumping; it was thrilling to watch.
If you'd like to read part two of my visual essay on the 38th Voyage of the Morgan, please visit my personal blog HERE. Thank you.


bh yoo said...

Simple and powerful lines! Love them.

Inma Serrano said...

Beautiful sketches and words

VHein said...

Wonderful drawings, Veronica--I can feel the force of the wind--and the men! Beautiful writing as well.