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Erik in Denmark

Published 08th Aug 2008

Dear Diary,

I can’t believe it’s our second last day sailing. Yesterday we sailed into
the naval base at Kongsøre after our last night-time sail on the ship. It
was perfect – we had no rain and the most beautiful sunset. The stars were
the clearest I’ve ever seen them – we even had some shooting stars and we
had an even more beautiful sunrise. It was quite atmospheric. I like
night-time on the ship. We have quiet time from 8pm until 12pm the next day
– that way everyone gets 8 hours sleep (hopefully!) between their 4 hour

We have very few lights on board – only a green and red light at the top of
the mast (and a white light for when we anchor) and a green and red light
at the front of the ship (the bow) and a white light at the back of the
ship (the stern). The crew have personal head torches but we don’t use them
that much as we tend to end up blinding each other! On a quiet night when
there’s a clear sky you just hear the lapping of the water and watch the
stars, taking in the motion of the boat swaying slightly from side to side.
I’ll miss that.

Anyway, at Kongsøre we didn’t have to have an anchor watch since we were in
a secure base so we chilled out for the day and enjoyed a good nights
uninterrupted sleep! One thing I thought was very funny was that some of
the navy instructors came down to see the ship and said that they wouldn’t
be able to sail on The Sea Stallion because they think it’d be too hard.
They are in the navy! I think people think life on The Sea Stallion is much
harder than it actually is. It’s really not about physical strength. It is
much more about being mentally and emotionally able to cope with living in
such close quarters with the other crew – though you do need to have a
certain level of fitness too! Some of the ropes in midships are quite heavy
to pull particularly the midsheet and the cluelines.

Maybe I should explain a bit. As you know in midships we have a lot of
rope. They are connected to either the sail or the mast. On the mast there
is the halyard which goes from the lofting to the top of the mast and the
front stay which goes from the top of the mast to the bow and then there
are 5 shrouds at either side of the mast in the centre of the ship. These
all help to keep the mast in place. We work the shrouds in midships –
mainly just tightening them. We have 2 other shrouds too called tacking
shrouds that we move when we tack.

On the sail we have 4 cluelines, 2 gordings, 2 priors, a midsheet and 2
other sheets and 2 braces. The aftership and the foreship use the sheets
and the braces. The sheets are the ropes at either side of the bottom of
the sail and the braces are the ropes either side at the top of the sail.
In midship we deal with everything else.

The cluelines are used to raise and lower the sail to the yard and the
gordings are used to raise and lower the corners of the sail to the yard.
The priors and the midsheet are used together to give the sail a nice round
curve when we sail and then we have other little ropes on the sail called
reefing ropes – quick reefs and reefs. When we reef we make the sail
smaller and we do the quick reefs first and then the other reefs. When we
are on watch we take it in turns to man all the different stations. I
usually work with my buddy Sinéad on either the midsheet or the priors when
we sail. And speaking of which I’m off to do the priors now!

Take care,

Created by Erik the Viking