Mar 16, 2018 - Sea Cloud
The sun rose at 6:07 a.m. as we were approaching the entrance to the St. Lucia Channel which separates Martinique and St. Lucia. The temperature was a balmy 82˚F. We had a fair wind of 20 knots and were making 5.8 knots over the ground before we went to sail. The crew went aloft at 9 a.m. to set sails. Expedition Leader Tom O’Brien gave an informative and detailed introduction to the sails and the mechanics of sailing a square-rigger. The Sea Cloud carries almost 28 thousand square feet of sail (2650 meters). You can imagine the strength of the sails, as they have to withstand gale force winds and move a 2500-ton vessel through the sea at 10mpg. The very durable sails are made in Poland and and can
The St. Lucia Channel is 17 miles wide. The trade winds funnel through it and thus provide reliable winds. After our staff introductions our naturalist Ian Strachan gave a very helpful introduction to photography in the tropics. At 11:30 a.m. we changed course slightly to a more northerly tack and set the “spanker” sail, which is a gaff-rigged sail. This is a complex maneuver and typically requires seven to eight sailors being supervised by our Boswain, Mamicon. We were doing 6 knots under sail. It was exciting to watch the sailors pit their strength against the wind.
Our historian Tom Heffernan gave a lecture on the economics of sugar and slavery showing how the demands for sugar created the triangular trade of the “Middle Passage.” At 4:30 p.m. we sailed by the famous “Diamond Rock” on our starboard. The basalt sea plug is almost 600 feet high and was the site of a famous battle between the English and French in May of 1805. The rock has the distinction of being the only rock, which was commissioned as a sloop. The English Admiralty granted it the status of a ship and it was named “HMS Diamond Sloop” and under the command of a commodore Maurice in February of 1803. Today if a British naval vessel passes the rock, the sailors come to attention and the bridge salutes a sister ship!
Tonight, we had the great pleasure of formally meeting Captain Evgeny Nemerzhitskiy and his officers. Our captain has a distinguished career and was captain of the famous Russian naval training ship the Kreuzenstern. We adjourned from the Lido and had a lovely Captain’s Dinner. The sea was gentle and rocked us all to a welcome rest. Tomorrow morning Dominica, the “Nature Island.”
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