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One last day under sail
Sunday, July 1, 2012
The melodic time of the “chow bell” aboard the Schooner Zodiac rang promptly at 7am again this morning, a bittersweet reminder that our journey here aboard this classic ship was all-too-rapidly coming to a close.
Our overnight anchorage of Parks Bay was quiet, peaceful and sunny, allowing me to take breakfast and coffee up on deck, where the sounds of birds and the gentle lapping of water against Zodiac’s hull could be heard echoing in the distance.
In preparation for our half-day sail back to Bellingham, I helped to polish the ship’s brass fittings along with several other passengers, while guests and crew also assisted in the hosing down of the ship’s deck. As with yesterday, this was completely voluntary – but I personally enjoyed the opportunity to pitch in and help out, and I think everyone considering sailing aboard the Zodiac should consider doing as much as possible to get the full immersion experience.
Seeing the brass fittings gleam after half an hour of polishing gave everyone who participated an immense sense of pride in their work.
As I tidied my things this morning, it struck me just how much I will miss my little berth, an experience which I found quite charming. During my cruises over the years, I’ve stayed in everything from inside, windowless staterooms to full-on suites that were larger than most apartments, yet I have come to enjoy the decidedly-nautical sleeping arrangements aboard the Zodiac. It’s an experience that simply must be had when aboard a schooner.
We motored out of our overnight anchorage at Parks Bay and past the ferry-intensive Friday Harbor before coming to a stop for the moment we had all been waiting for: the chance to raise Zodiac’s sails one last time.
This time, everything was starting to click. My lines for the throat seemed easier to lift, and I can now tie-off the required knots with ease. I’m not nearly as nimble as Zodiac’s crewmembers, but I feel like I could safely undertake any challenge the crew – or the ship – could throw at me.
I also got to participate again in the sailing stations rotation, headed up by the always-cheery Beth.
In the Chart Room, I learned how to use a compass to take a sighting off two distant points in order to triangulate the position of the ship on a map – a process that yielded surprisingly accurate results, even when compared to our GPS coordinates.
Afterwards, I headed aft again for one last stint at acting as Zodiac’s quartermaster, steering the ship by way of the enormous wooden wheel mounted directly atop the rudder mechanism. I was able to spend roughly 40 minutes steering us through a series of hard port-and-starboard turns intended to catch the maximum wind in our sails and allowing us to change their configuration from port tack to starboard tack and vice versa.
This was the first time I had been able to see a tack in progress, and I was amazed by the hive of activity on-deck as Zodiac’s passengers and crew worked in unison to set the sails. Blocks squealed and strained, ropes rushed along decking, and the schooner’s enormous sails caught the wind with a whip-like crack that, coupled with the angle of the rudder, had Zodiac comfortably heeled into the wind.
Sadly, with a schedule to maintain the sails had to come down in order to allow us to reach Bellingham for our 2pm arrival. But after we’d completed this, Chef Ian served up yet another spectacular lunch on deck in the brilliance of a near-cloudless day.
I’ve spent well over 200 days at sea. I’ve sailed aboard ships with thousands of passengers, down to just a few hundred. Some ships were over a thousand feet long while others were positively petite. The intimate, historic Zodiac is without a doubt one of the most fascinating vessels I’ve sailed aboard.
But it’s not just wine cruises that are offered on this sleek sailing vessel: there’s beer brewery cruises, photography cruises, lighthouse voyages, Father’s Day trips, an Oktoberfest brewery cruise, and Nauti-Gals – a special three-day sailing adventure designed just for women. The crown jewel of the Zodiac’s season, though, may well be the massive 12-night trip to Desolation Sound offered later this month.
I love my big, technologically advanced cruise ships that can be navigated by the push of a mere button, but ships like the Zodiac were where it all started at. I personally cannot wait for the chance to step aboard and participate in another voyage aboard her her.
The thrill of sail is timeless, and the Schooner Zodiac is most definitely in her prime.
Our Voyage Report from aboard the Schooner Zodiac has sadly come to a close, but be sure to pay a visit to their website – there’s plenty of other sailing adventures available on their schedule between now and October!
From the Deck Chair will return on Monday with a preview of our next two Live Voyage Reports!
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