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Daily Log: Saturday, October 11th

0700 hours

Current Position: Anchored off Kingston, NY.
Latitude: 41˚ 56.1'
Longitude: 073˚ 57.0'

Day Two of the 2008 Masters Voyage of Discovery.

Our crew rises to greet their first full day aboard the Half Moon. Our journey today will take us down the length of the Long Reach, a stretch of the northern Hudson River that is as straight as it is narrow. This section of the river offers few opportunities for a vessel of our size to safely anchor outside the main channel, so once we enter the Reach, we must pass all the way through before we can set anchor once more. As it happens, this means that today's leg of the journey closely mirrors that of the original Half Moon, as detailed in Juet's journal below.

0900 hours

The ebb tide isn't due until nearly midday, so after breakfast we spend the morning focused on student orientation.

For their Deck Log readings, Mr. Chase teaches Natalie, Christina, Ross, and Greg how to use a sling psychrometer to measure relative humidity levels.

1000 hours

Meanwhile, Mr. Morel has dedicated the fore deck to sail handling training. Sadly, we remain becalmed all day, so this is the only chance we'll get to handle the sails today.

1015 hours

The morning continues apace, with groups of students circulating around the ship to learn more about both shipcraft and river science.

1030 hours

As we start to consider our departure time, Mr. Schuijer recruits Jena and Lizzie to help him run up the flags. He teaches them how to run up a flag in stops, meaning as a folded bundle. Once the flag reaches the top of the mast, a quick tug on its line releases the flag to unfold and wave freely.

While the ship remains stationary, we can also expand our Deck Log readings to include depth soundings and turbidity testing.

Currently, Natalie, Ross, and Greg are manning the channel to learn how to use the necessary instruments.

1100 hours

When not otherwise busy, our trained climbers are also granted permission to go aloft and enjoy the view, climbing the rig in groups of two or three.

1130 hours

As part of our ongoing efforts to combat the nautical scourge known as juvenile scurvy, we pass around oranges for a late-morning snack.

1145 hours

The slack tide has arrived, turning to the ebb; it's the sign for us to be on our way. Captain Reynolds gathers the crew to explain the procedures involved in weighing anchor.

1200 hours

We divide the crew into several teams to fill all the needed positions.

On the weather deck, the capstan team reports to duty.

Evi stands at the ready nearby, waiting for the whipstaff to be unlashed. As soon as it's free to move, she'll steer us down the river.

Meanwhile, the below deck team runs the anchor line (known as the "anchor rode") around the lower capstan. Under Ms. Smith's guidance, Greg and Lizzie keep tension on the rode to keep the coils from tangling themselves; such tangles are called "overrides." These overrides are easily prevented, and can be quickly fixed if caught immediately.

 

Stationed on the fore channel, Mr. Schuijer has noticed a glitch in our plans -- overnight, the current has caused floating eel grass to clump around the anchor rode as it passes into the water. We pause ship's operations for a moment while he uses a boat hook to clear the weeds -- otherwise they would likely be pulled up into the orlop deck and would create quite a mess!

Mouse over to walk the capstan.
The crew walks the capstan.

1215 hours

With the eel grass cleared away, Captain Reynolds orders the capstan team to start walking. By using the mechanical advantage of the capstan, the team combines their strength, rendering them capable of lifting immense weights.

Throughout the procedure, Ross is stationed at the main hatch, acting as communicator. His responsibility is to quickly and clearly relay commands and responses between Captain Reynolds on the Quarter deck and the teams working below decks.

The remaining team consists of Mr. Morel, Jonathan, and Peter, positioned at the fore end of the orlop deck. While Mr. Morel tends the very end of the anchor rode (ready to make it off at any moment as a safety precaution) Jonathan and Peter "fake" the rode after it passes around the capstan -- meaning that their job is to neatly fold the line to render it ready to be deployed next time we set anchor.

As a special challenge, we decide to see if we can weigh anchor this morning without using the engine to help us along. (Normally, we use the engine to take the strain off the anchor rode, making it easier to pull in.) The load does get a bit heavy toward the end, but in the end the mission is accomplished with little extra effort.

(This wouldn't always be the case; in the great age of sail, there were reports of ships taking three days to weigh anchor against the wind and current.)

Mouse over for a closer view.
Mr. Schuijer hoses clumps of silt off the anchor.

As the anchor breaks the waterline, Mr. Schuijer sees that it is covered in thick clumps of silt. We pause again for a few minutes so he can hose it off, avoiding another mess.

Mouse over to
sweat the tackle.
Mr. Chase and Mr. Hourigan sweat the tackle.

1230 hours

The final step falls to Mr. Chase and Mr. Hourigan on the fore deck. We put the teachers to the task of "sweating" the anchor tackle, hauling the anchor from the waterline up to the starboard channel where it is soon safely secured.

1245 hours

Now that the ship is underway, we celebrate by serving lunch! Everyone has worked up an appetite and digs in to their grilled cheese sandwiches, clam chowder, and macaroni salad.

1315 hours

After a little soup gets spilled at lunch, we call for a deck wash. Spraying down the decks don't just keep the ship clean -- they make it more seaworthy too. The planks swell as they absorb water, tightening their seal.

A deck wash is also a good way for the crew to cool off and relax, too. Even in the middle of October, we still get a few takers to be sprayed with the hose.

1345 hours

Work with the Deck Log continues. To be perfectly honest, the situation wasn't nearly as dramatic as it appears here, but this wasn't a photo that could go to waste!

1400 hours

Down in the galley, Bennett assists the cook with tonight's meal. While Bennett cooks up some ground beef, Mr. McLaughlin peels potatoes. What's for dinner? We'll leave it a surprise for now.

Meanwhile, students with free time -- such as Luke here -- take every opportunity to climb aloft just for fun.

1415 hours

By now, the students are comfortable with the basics of belaying and coiling lines, so we move on to more advanced forms of line handling.

Ms. Reilly gathers a group of students by the starboard rail to teach them how to tie several knots, including the square knot and the bowline. A few students pleasantly surprise us by demonstrating the knots they already know!

While the knot lesson is going on, Deck Log work continues nearby. Here, Jena and Jonathan are checking the relative humidity level.

1430 hours

For a windless day, the rig is certainly buzzing with activity! Climbers Lizzie, Natalie, and Christina pause for a photo op on their way to the top.

Mouse over to scrub the rail.
Bennet scrubs the starboard rail.

1445 hours

Many students are taking the personal initiative to volunteer for extra duties during their time off. The Half Moon can always use more maintenance, so we're happy to put them to work!

While Bennett scrubs the starboard rail...

Mouse over to polish the capstan.
Evi polishes the metal top of the capstan.

...Evi polishes the metal "drum" of the upper capstan.

Once they finish their individual tasks, Evi and Bennet team up to polish the bell hanging above the helm hutch as well!

1530 hours

These double bridges mark our passage past Poughkeepsie. Plans are currently underway to transform the currently unused railroad bridge (the dark iron bridge farther away) into a pedestrian walkway.

1645 hours

As we near the southern end of the Long Reach, Deck Log readings continue uninterrupted. Christina, Ross, and Lizze collaboarate to measure the current wind speed. While Christina marks the time, Lizzie takes the reading and Ross enters it into the log.

1715 hours

Our journey through the Long Reach may have been a bit too calm and peaceful for the senior crew's liking. On the Quarter deck, some whimsical musings about optics has gone terribly awry. For the record, Ms. Reilly and Mr. Hansen report that when binoculars are placed facing each other lens-to-lens, the resulting image is roughly life-size, but with all sense of proportion greatly exaggerated -- like watching a cheesy 3-D movie.

1730 hours

We're about to cross under the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, and our anchorage for the night rests just on the far side. During the day's travel, the fore deck has become a popular hangout, as tends to happen.

In preparation for deploying the anchor, we clear Greg, Luke, and Bennett out of our work space. As looklout, Ross gets to stay.

1745 hours

As far as we can remember, this is a first: in recognition of her personal initiative today, the captain has granted a student crewmember -- Evi -- the honor of pulling the "carrot." The anchor is attached to its tackle via a wooden pin or fid, which we've nicknamed the carrot due to its shape. When Evi yanks on the line secured to the carrot, it pops out, freeing the anchor to plunge to the bottom.

With Ms. Reilly overseeing operations on the channel, we soon set anchor.

1815 hours

We'll be spending the night just south of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, between the two cities that give the bridge its name.

While we still have a few minutes of daylight left to play with, Captain Reynolds opts to send out a team in the ship's inflatable tender boat, or Zodiac. The captain, Dr. Jacobs, Jena, and Andrew soon zip over to the Newburgh waterfront to do a little investigating.

The Half Moon will return to this dock for tours in the first week of November, so the captain's primary mission is to check the water's depth. Rather than using a lead line for this operation, he simply uses a boat hook to probe the bottom; the blue tape marks ten feet of depth.

We need to check the depth here at different stages of the tidal cycle to ensure that the Half Moon can safely dock here; this visit is just the latest of several trips we've made to prepare for our coming visit.

1830 hours

While the team is out, they also take the opportunity to search for aquatic wildlife. Our salinity testing indicates that we're entering brackish (somewhat salty) waters, which tend to house a wider variety of flora and fauna.

In this case, however, we mainly just discover zebra mussels living on the dock pilings. We collect them for examination on board, and will be careful not to contribute to the spread of this invasive species. (The docks are currently also host to numerous ducks, but they show little interest in coming on board.)

Their work done, the Zodiac team returns to the Half Moon, where dinner has already been served.

1845 hours

Tonight's meal is shepherd's pie. Our Zodiac team eagerly digs in before Mr. McLaughlin gives everyone clearance to go back for seconds.

As dusk falls, the crew continues their work with the Deck Log. Here, Greg and Peter collect a water sample for temperature and salinity readings.

1900 hours

As the last rays of daylight fade from the sky, Captain Reynolds gathers the crew on deck for tonight's anchor watch briefing. In addition to monitoring the ship, we will once again continue to update the Deck Log through the night.

1945 hours

During the briefing, we happen to notice a large bonfire blazing on the Newburgh shoreline. When this visual is combined with our current discussion of wind patterns, Captain Reynolds is inspired to produce something special from his cabin: a miniature hot air balloon. Little more than a rice paper sack holding a small fuel reservoir for an open flame, these balloons float just like their larger cousins. When released, the balloon floats skyward, revealing wind patterns even at high elevations. Even in the slightest breeze, these disposable balloons typically drift far, far away, never to be recovered.

When we release our balloon tonight, however, something remarkable happens. Brightly illuminated against the night sky, the balloon shoots straight up, up, up, through the clouds passing overhead. After several minutes of being visible only as a dim, hazy glow, the balloon extinquishes its fuel and drops back to earth -- landing back in Newburgh Bay just a few hundred feet from the ship!

2015 hours

We're so astounded that we dispatch the Zodiac to recover the balloon, still visible floating in the current and seemingly intact. Sadly, the balloon collapses as soon as we touch it, but we still successfully bring our honorable aeronaut back on board -- sad-looking clump of paper or not!

After all this excitement, the crew settles in for the night, passing the time before lights out by reading their journal entries to each other.

2200 hours

Anchor watch begins and the first full day of our Voyage of Discovery comes to an end.

Next: Bannerman's Castle and Beyond!

On September 29th, 1609:

The nine and twentieth was drie close weather: the wind at South, and South and by West, we weighed early in the morning, and turned downe three leagues by a lowe water, and anchored at the low end of the long Reach; for it is sixe leagues long. Then there came certain Indians in a Canoe to us, but would not come aboord. After dinner there came the Canoe with other men, whereof three came aboord us. They brought Indian wheat, which we bought for trifles. At three of the clocke in the after-noone we weighed, as soone as the ebbe came, and turned downe to the edge of the Mountaines, or the Northermost of the Mountaines, and anchored: because the high Land hath many Points, and a narrow channell, and hath many eddie winds. So we rode quietly all night in seven fathoms water.

-- Robert Juet's Journal.

 

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