Extracted from the "Swain's Scuttlebuck"
Afternoon 22nd toMoring Watch 24th Feb 2013
Despite weather reports to the contrary at thestart of the watch there was
no wind with sufficient force to allow us tosail from our berth in Siracusa
to our destination this evening Riposto. Wedid however motor sailed with
only the fore and aft sails but this did notprevent the crew of the ship
being entertained. After happy hour which Iknow the voyage crew enjoy so
much just by looking at their smiling faces; wetreated to a talk about
volcanos from our own resident expert and geographyteacher Alison. We
learnt about constructive and destructive explosions, theformation of the
craters, and the earths fault lines. I had not realisedthat despite
sailing in European waters that I was still tectonicallyspeaking in the
continent of Africa.
The talk was excellent and preparedthe voyage crew for a trip up to Mount
Etna planned for the following day.As Etna had recently erupted (going
poof) it was even more exciting.
Thelocalised weather conditions possibly caused by Etna's activity added to
thisexcitement as the perfect frontal system moved across our sky line.
Thisexcited me a lot and I did get carried away with explaining the passage
ofthe low system, and Ballot's Law with the on duty watch looking a bit
bemusedof my description of the cumulonimbus clouds and their anvils on the
coldfront, being like the Admirals of the Terracotta army marching to war
as itoccluded with the warm front ahead of it. (They did get it inthe
The first task of our full day in Riposto was to undertake theassist climbs
aloft. This would be the first time that I myself have takenpart in this
activity on Tenacious and representing the JST. I haveconducted the up
and overs on previous trips and earlier in the voyage withable body
crewmembers and used a gantline to assist nervous members of crewaloft on
previous ships but nothing like this.
For those reading I willclarify the situation for a moment. The up and
overs is the climb up therigging to the first platform (called the Tops)
and back down. The height issome 60m and is considered my many sail
training voyage crew as the firstmajor challenge on board and this is
probably the reason why we send everynew voyage crew member 'up and over'
during the first few days. Now thoughwas the less able and the crew
members that needed assistance owing to theirdisability moment to shine.
A dedicated line is lead from aloft to the deckand the able bodied crew are
in attendance of the line to keep it taught toprevent the climber from
coming off the rig or falling. A BM is posted aloftand I had the privilege
of guiding the climber onto the rig and during theaccent and decent.
I recall my first ever climb on the rig, I was nervous, Itook tender steps,
looked for points to clip on, shook by the knees, wobbledthe rigging, I
remember being terrified of every step and despite having allmy limbs and
all the strength in my body where it should be I really found ithard work
and challenging. I now had five nervous but excited faces infront of me
having their harnesses checked, that did not have the physicalcapabilities
that I have come to realise I am lucky to have.
In the wordsof Miranda, who finds walking along the deck difficult, and has
no real useof grip in her right arm "I want to do this to prove I can, and
will regretit if I don't". A statement echoed very much by the others.
For threeof the climbers each step was a triumph that denied the
stereotypes of beingdisabled. Miranda thought with all her might to pull
her the right side ofher body up each rung, each one requiring a level of
both effort and abravery I do not think I could contemplate even imagining.
The thrill on herown face was amazing to see when she made it onto the
platform to join herfellow climbers and applause from below deck echoed the
pleasure that we allhad that she had made it to join Amy who Amy who had
climbed despite notbeing able to see, owing to her blindness and Karrella
who suffered from limbco-ordination.
The next two climbers where both wheel chair users who despitebeing able to
be hoisted in their chairs expressed the interest to climb therig under
their own steam. One of them Russell had done this before andhelped
explain to me, how and more importantly what he wanted me to do whichturned
out to be mainly 'keeping up'. The other Alan had not done this andhaving
watched Russell make it realised that he now had to achieve thisjust
because He was 'to competitive not too'.
Alan followed Russell, andI cannot describe the joy I felt when Alan made
it to the Tops. I know howmuch it really meant to him. A paraplegic
resulting from an accident Alanhad overcome many challenges to his new
disability and found frustratingbeing told he could not do things and this
was the real deal, the icing onthe cake with regards to demonstrating to
himself and to the onlookers thatwe really can achieve anything if me put
our mind to it and work as ateam.
The next climb of the day was Etna, but this accent as a littleeasier
for us, but I am not sure if the same was the bus. Our excellenttour
guide gave us information on the volcano, the Greek mythology and thestory
Cyclops (which he believed where originally dwarf elephants) that wereall
associated with the Island of Sicily.
The views were incredible butother blogs I am sure will describe the views
and the eruption which occurredonly three hours after we had returned to
the trip. Alison was in herelement!
I will sign off now as we motor towards the wind pocket. Theengines
quietly and efficiently taking us in the direction we want to go.(Tamsin -
I hope this meets your requirements!).
Ben Swain the Boatswain -Currently Sailing as 2nd Mate