Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rocking and Rolling, Naval Style

As many of you know, I have quite a yen to write a Regency with a Naval hero or three. Must be all those Hornblower books that I keep reading -- saying nothing about the TV series, natch -- and maybe those fabulous uniforms. 

Royal Clipper under Full Sail
But I had never been on a sailing ship. Well, now I have and it is amazing.

This is the ship I was on. I'm told she's the largest fully rigged sailing ship in commercial use. She is certainly very large, with five masts. She's also much, much more automated than anything Nelson's navy could have dreamed of.

I think she's absolutely stunning. When she's whizzing along under sail, it is supremely peaceful and the feeling is wonderful.

Provided she's just whizzing along, that is. We had a couple of sectors on the trip when she wasn't whizzing peacefully along at all. She was rolling (from side to side). A lot. Now that's actually OK, I found. If you're in bed, you just go with the flow and try not to fall out. If you're walking about, you always have one had free to hold on (with the drink in the other one).

Mind you, in the dining room, rolling was a bit problematic. There was one night when we were sitting at a table of 6. The 3 women were sitting on the banquette along the ship's side. The 3 men were sitting opposite on rather spindly gilt chairs. The ship was rolling so that the portholes along the dining soom were disappearing under water every now and then. And every now and then, said men were grabbing at the table in order not to go over backwards which would have been very undignified (and, for the wives, very funny). I can now say I have definitely seen fear in a man's eye.

Seriously, when the ship was rolling AND pitching as well (prow down into the water and then back up again), it was not at all comfortable and I shall have much more sympathy with my Naval heroes when I write then. Especially as their sailors had to go up the masts, in all weathers, to set and trim the sails. Have a look at this set of sails and just imagine how it would have been. Scary, I'd say.

Royal Clipper: Just Count How Many Sails She Has!

And in spite of the rolling, the waiters could still serve soup -- slowly -- without spilling a drop. No doubt Nelson's sailors could serve him soup as well.


and at last on Twitter too @JoannaMaitland


Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

What a fabulous experience, Joanna. I am sure it will give you lots of insight for your naval book(s).

Jan Jones said...

Ah. Have been on Tall Ships in my time. Also not-so-tall ships. Also downright small sailing yachts. Best thing is to sleep through the yawling bits, I find.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, both. Yes, it was quite different from any other kind of ship I've been on, large or small. I agree with Jan about the sleeping bit. Only problem is, with a normal bed, you can actually fall out while asleep. At one point, I was hanging on to the side of the bed!!!

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

What an amazing experience to have had, Joanna. I'm deeply envious. And she's such a beautiful ship, too

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Elizabeth, and welcome back. Yes, she is utterly gorgeous. Such beautiful lines and just so romantic.

Helena said...

I'm going to have to admire this from afar! I'd have been jumping overboard, I'm afraid - I don't know how anyone can combine dining with sailing...

Anonymous said...

Well, Helena, it was a VERY large sailing ship, with masses of space inside, and a very roomy feel to it. It felt OK to me. But then I wasn't the one who was having to hold on to the table to stop myself fall ing over!