Sailing Into The Future. Photography And Text By Keith R Wahl

December 29, 2021  •  Leave a Comment


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BelayBelayA view of the belayed running rigging aboard the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry (Rhode Island's Official Sailing School Vessel and the largest civilian sail training vessel in the United States)

Charles W Morgan Running Rigging

CharlesWMorganRunningRigging_20190704_D56_0363Charles W Morgan Running RiggingRunning Rigging Aboard The Historic Whaleship Charles W Morgan. The running and standing rigging is the heart of a sailing ship. This is a view of blocks and lines and belaying pins; all of the things that help the vessel to sail.

Turks Head Knot On Salvaged Anchor

TurksHeadKnotSalvagedAnchor_20190813_D56_0691Turks Head Knot On Salvaged AnchorAnchors are fairly common decorations in Rhode Island, especially on an island such as Block Island. On this anchor was a rather distinctive Turk's Head Knot (a bit of marlinspike seamanship on display) marking the shackle attachment. The anchor itself if of rusted iron from the Age of Sail.

I am writing this at the close of a year and looking into the future using photos reflecting on the past. It is taking the time to look at the lessons of the past as we sail into our futures.

At one time, I started out handling lines on boats and ships. I learned the craft and could splice and perform some fancy knotwork. To this day, I can still throw a line and ring a spile as well as I could in the youth.

But I did not remain as a line handler on deck. I used this as a place to learn about the engine room, to learn navigation, and how to handle a ship. After 1760 logged days on the water, I tested in a Coast Guard office in Boston, MA, and became a licensed master.

The lessons that I learned on ships led to an education in mathematics and physics. I was able to apply my combined experience and education in other areas. Astronomy came from celestial navigation. Computer science and engineering followed with mathematics and physics.

College added flavor to these experiences. Literature, philosophy, and history gave added feeling to the experiences. I started reading with greater depth which led me to Patrick O'Brien and many adventures. Among these were his living through Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin.

While I do not play music in any form, Captain Aubrey and Doctor Maturin played violin and cello. In the tomes of O'Brien, I came to see the relationship between the stringed instruments and the lines of a ship. The metaphors of tuning the rigging and instruments. The theory of planning musical notes and plotting a course. The need for the individual to master their tasks, but to make music or a ship sail, all must work together.

Now, we have sons. They do not sail as I did. But I have been able to convey these lessons and they have become all-state musicians. The combined lessons of the past have helped them create their futures.

So now we sail into a new future. We sail past a line of demarcation into blue water. There are dangers and opportunities ahead. We plot our course, trim our sails, adjust our lines, refer and rely on our experience, and aim for a destination.


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© Keith R Wahl, Made From RI/Made From RI Gallery, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Keith R Wahl and Made From RI/Made From RI Gallery with appropriate and specific direction to the original.