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Training, Climbing and a Beast of a Platform

Here is Day two of our Resident Writer, Natasha Pulley's, Blog.

Day 2 – 14th June 2021

Day two is all about training and briefings. There are safety walkarounds and talks about parts of the ship — there is, excellently, such a thing as a spanker vang — but probably the thing everyone had most fun with is climbing practise. Everyone does an ‘up and over’; you climb the rigging of the mainmast, up to the first platform, which is just above the course yard, and then down the other side. It’s all great and you think you’re definitely Spiderman under you get to the platform overhang, and then suddenly everything is terrifying, you’re hanging over a thirty foot drop and someone is telling you move your hands when you really can’t moveyour hands. Getting up without dying, though, feels like a marvellous achievement and for at least four minutes there was a fantastic view over the Clyde.

I’ve done that before, on this ship and another with an absolute beast of a platform, so I knew it would be hard, but I think there were more than a few peoplewho didn’t realize there wo

uld be a scary bit at the top, and when they came down the far side, there were a few glassy looks. It’s one of those things that can be an illustration of the difference between the idea of doing this kind of thing, which is always luminous, and actually doing it on a cold and windy day, even safe in port.

If you can get past that unease*, though, the rig is an amazing place to be.

Even when the ship is in port, it’s easy to get really tired really quickly in cold weather. It’s because there’s not really anywhere to go that’s warm; it becomes a lot harder to just look after yourself in ordinary ways, and even simple things like warming up and drinking some water can feel like they take major planning in comparison to doing the same thing ashore. Stupid little things can drive me nuts once I’m properly cold; like, if the lights on the bunks are broken, you’re either in painful fluorescent blaze or total darkness in the cabins. I felt deeply resentful of the testing of an emergency alarm. Normal stuff, soon past or easily fixed, but it’s amazing how quickly you turn into a ball of pointless rage if you’re just uncomfortable for twenty four hours.

It’s about at this point that I started to feel like I might be a wilting flower with an embarrassingly weak character, because by the end of that cold day, I really wanted to just go home — and I’ve done this before. But the thing is, that’s normal: not everyone is going to have an amazing time always. It’s a tall ship; sometimes you’re going to feel rubbish. Accepting that and settling to it is probably a lot more important than bringing all the right gear and seasickness medicine.

*bolt of actual terror

Visit her website: www.natashapulley.co.uk to see more of Natasha’s work!


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