And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
— from the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield (1878-1967)
In my 6th grade class I stood behind my desk trying to remember the next line of the poem my teacher, Mr. Roberts, wanted each of us to recite. This was my third and last attempt to get a passing grade. Mr. Roberts in an effort to jog my memory, stood up on his desk and then walked towards me using my classmate’s desktops until he stood tall in front of me. It worked and my mind clicked on the one line of the poem, Sea Fever by English poet laureate, John Masefield, I still remember though the rest has faded away.
From that day, I have had an infinity for tall ships. Their history and romantic stories both in books and screen have filled me with a love for such vessels. So, it was with much delight to receive as a Father’s Day gift from my two daughters a 2 hour daysail on a tall ship coming to the Festival of Sail in nearby Oswego, New York this past weekend. Wanting to travel light onboard in what turned out to be cramped quarters, I put on the Nikon 18-200VR lens and boarded the tall ship Privateer Lynx, a replica of a ship used during the War of 1812 between the United States and the British empire.
The Privateer Lynx is manned by young and seasoned sailors. After boarding, the captain, Jamie Trost, welcomed and instructed me and 39 other guests for the daysail on the mission of the Lynx, safety information and encouraged everyone to help in the operation of the ship. With the wind slight, the Lynx left port under power until we cleared Oswego Harbor’s breakwall. Some of the guests helped to raise the sails which then filled and moved the Lynx silently over the calm Lake Ontario waters.
As Captain Trost manned the helm and strongly voiced his orders to the Lynx’s crew, he gave a running history lesson of the mission of privateer ships during the War of 1812. The US Navy at the time only had 16 ships which was badly outnumbered by the mighty British fleet who were blockading important ports on the US eastern seaboard. Privateers were nothing like the pirates you see in films. They were built and outfitted by wealthy businesses for profit. Entitled by the United States to attack and rob enemy vessels during the War of 1812, vessels such as the Lynx, costs of commissioning their crews was borne by investors hoping to gain a significant return from prize money earned from enemy merchants. Since the goal of their mission was to capture ships, privateering is considered a less destructive and wasteful form of warfare.
It did rain off and on throughout the voyage with solid gray sky making photography a challenge. To compensate, I did my best to minimize the sky filling the frame as much as possible with the subjects I photographed. Raindrops on the lens was a different matter as I had to continuously wipe them off. When the rain did stop, I was able to get these portraits of some of the crew of the Lynx.
The weather was being stubborn and the winds died down on our return trip to port. The captain reluctantly giving the order to engage the engines and furl the sails. Back on shore, I took this portrait of the Lynx as it waited to take another group of adventurous guests out to share its history, crew and the joy of movement by sail.
I think it fitting I end this post with the complete poem which started my love of Tall Ships all those years ago.
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
What an adventure, Scott! How fun! You got some really nice shots. I especially like the closeup of the wheel with the ships name. So well done!
(p.s. Still not getting e-mail notices of certain blogs, yours included. I will also let WP support know).
It was fun even with the rain. The crew where very knowledgeable about their ship and the history of its namesake. Now that I have done a short daysail, I going to see if there’s places with longer sailings.
Thanks, Tracy, for dropping WordPress a note. Something happened and I wish they would find it. I know people are probably wondering why it is taking so long to approve comments lately.
What a wonderful adventure! Thoughtful girls to give you this gift. Despite the weather, you have some very beautiful shots here. Is the portrait of the ship in that HDR that you sometimes write about? Reason I ask is that it looks almost 3-dimensional.
Thank you, Karen. I did my best under the weather conditions.
Yes, that is an HDR processed image. I took three photos at -2EV, 0EV and +2EV and merged them using Photomatix 3 plugin for Aperture 3.
So glad you were able to go sailin’ this weekend, Scott! I, too, love that wheel. The way you only showed half of it, with the hand. I am suddenly inspired to take half-photos of things and people. Kind of like it hints at so much more. As for your answer to Karma with the OEV’s and merging them and Aperture…feeling like I’m back in kindergarten again. 🙂
I liked how the wheel was worn from hours and hours of use yet the captain had a very light touch. I am sure when the seas are a churning that touch turns into tight grasps.
Kathy, for a better and more “visual” explanation of HDR, check out this post I did a while back: HDR Strikes Back!
Don’t worry Kathy! You aren’t the only one Scott left in the dust with his explanation! LOL!
It’s not hard to get the photos merged. The tricky part is all the sliders and settings in Photomatix which is why I read and use the book on HDR I reviewed earlier this year.
What a great Father’s Day gift. It looks like it was very entertaining as well. Beautiful shots too and poem 🙂
Great post, Scott! Looks like you thoroughly enjoyed the thoughtful gift!
That I did, Terry. It was a nice experience and one I hope to repeat again.
Sounds like fun! Those first three pictures are my favorites!
What are the issues with WP? I know they changed something with the e-mail notifications (I only get them when someone comments on my blog), making it look like they come from your own e-mail. That of course resulted in live.com thinking they were spam, and it took waaay to many times of clicking “not spam” to finally get them to go to my inbox instead of spam folder, although sometimes they still go to spam. Even in the inbox they are marked “possibly dangerous”. WP needs to change that setting back to what it was before IMO.
Thank you, Michaela!
Since the WP outage a couple of weeks back, I stopped getting email notifications when someone would leave a comment to any posts. They don’t go to either my Spam or Trash folders. I have had no trouble getting emails from WP Support team which end in @wordpress.com.
Tracy has told me she is no longer getting emails from my blog and others she has subscribed to. Anyone else having that problem?
It just seems WP has stopped sending them. Everything else is working fine. It’s a mystery WP Support has not been able to find as of yet. I hope they do soon.
So, if you leave a comment on my blog and it takes a long time for me to approve it, that is what is going on.
I don’t even bother subscribing to WP blogs through WP, and use google reader instead, esp. since I follow some blogs on other blogging sites, too. I just log into that and see what’s new, and don’t have to worry about e-mails.
I don’t subscribe to blogs through WP, but I have noticed Scott, that I get emails concerning comments made on my blog from everyone but you! I’m usually surprised when I go back to my site and find a comment from you because I never get notification of it!
I think the WordPress support people think I am loony. I sent them a link this post and told them to read the comments so they can see I am not making this up.
Thanks, Karen, I sent them that bit of information today.
Gorgeous photos, Scott! We couldn’t make it out until 5:00 so didn’t get to sail, but it was fun watching The Lynx come back in!
I was on the 1pm sailing which came in with sails. The later one came in under power without sails. Sunday was a much better day but one can not be picky. 🙂
So nice of your daughters to give you this interesting trip. It is a beautiful ship, must have been fun to sail it, and it looks so well kept. Did you ever learn to sail with a sailboat?
If you ever come to Denmark, you would probably like to visit the world largest wooden ship from 1860, called “Fregatten Jylland” wich now is used as a museum. http://www.fregatten-jylland.dk/default.aspx?pageID=68&lang=en
I learned how to sail a long time ago and did so with a very small two person, single masted sailboat. No where near the size or complexity of the Lynx or the Fregatten Jylland.
Wow Scott, I really love the “Privateer Lynx tied up in Oswego Harbor” image, looks like a painting.
Thanks, Nye. HDR often creates a painterly image.
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The tall ships regularly visit Halifax. Many of them dwarf the skyscrapers. They are absolutely amazing and the line-ups to tour them are ridiculously long. Your photos (and the poem) capture the wonder and mystery of the tall ships. What a thoughtful gift you received.
Really nice shots. The second last pleased to me most of all.
I am a great friend of these tall ships and some times they visit here in Scandinavia. One of the most known “Pirate” ship is Götheborg.
I hope to see more tall ship photos in future.