Friday, June 12, 2015

Back from sea!

I've been away from home for three weeks -- the longest I've spent away from the family since Penny was born five and a half years go (actually, it may be the longest stretch I've spent away from Liz since we married).

Why was I gone so long?  Well, I went to crew on the Lady Washington, a historic tall ship replica.

photo by Robin Corley
 Launched in 1989, she's based on a ship from the 1750s which had a significant impact on the history of the Pacific Northwest (as well as being the first American flagged ship to reach Hawaii, China, and Japan, and the first American flagged ship to cross Cape Horn).

You might remember her as the Interceptor from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
It was a wonderful experience.  I went in with a (laughably) general idea of line placement:

Done traveling west to get a sense of the boat's layout

I flew into Vancouver and had a short few hours at VanCaf, which was lovely.  90% of the folks who picked up books were animators.  I didn't realize that Vancouver had such a substantial animation presence.

I spent the first few days aboard Lady trying to acclimate myself to the lines as well as possible.  Knowing them was essential to doing one's job.  There are between 150 and 160 lines, depending on whether or not the royals are in play.

I got to where I felt good about most everything but the masts.  I could use another week on those.

Our first twelve hours in the Pacific I was very seasick.  I haven't been seasick since I was twenty-one, but then again I haven't been below decks in choppy waters in a tall ship.  The only time I wasn't feeling awful during that stretch was when I was on bow lookout, standing up high holding the stays and watching for cargo containers, buoys, crab nets, whales, ships, anything else that might present a hazard.  The midnight-to-four watch was especially cold, but it was exciting, too.

Across the bar, chilly and damp but intact.
We crossed the Columbia River Bar (known as "The Graveyard of the Pacific" due to its propensity for causing shipwrecks... more than two thousand) and sailed into the Columbia, which was spectacularly beautiful.  We spent some of our time walking around the woods, cliffs, beaches, and caves near Cape Disappointment.  

Anyway, I learned a lot, got to sail every day, got to experience the Oregon and Washington coasts and visit ports where I'd never been, and had a chance to learn and do most every job on the ship, from working the rudder in rolling seas (heavy!) to casting gaskets and furling sails on yards seven stories high.

It was a wonderful experience (which I hope will bring a greater degree of accuracy and verisimilitude to future stories) and I look forward to returning.  But for now, I'm so glad to be home with the family and I'm eager to get back to making comics.

1 comment:

  1. That last picture is why I'm going to stick to kayaks ... thanks for this post.