Sunday, November 8, 2015

The End of a Season

My time on the A.J. Meerwald has officially come to an end. I’m sitting alone at home back in Connecticut, grateful for unlimited French press coffee and a house to myself. Transitions are always filled with mixed emotions and I’m not even sure what I want to say in this blog. It’s sad to leave such great people but, being naturally prone to wanderlust, we were all ready for new things. It’s exciting to have your future open and unknown, but it’s also slightly unnerving to have no certain idea where you’ll be in a few months. Every time I come back home, I feel the pressure a little more to find a permanent job and live the life that it seems Americans are expected to live – go to college, find a job, buy a house, get married and have kids, etc. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with this and if that’s what you’re happy doing then you should definitely do it! But, right now, I cannot imagine that being my life. I’ve never lived in a place or worked at a job where I thought I could stay my whole life and I’m not even sure I could imagine a scenario where that would be so. Maybe I just haven’t found the right thing yet or maybe it’s just that there are too many things that I love to choose one, but after about three months in one place doing the same thing I'm nearly always ready for a change.

After returning from the schooner race, we had about a week of maintenance, public sails and education sails before heading off to our last event. We sailed back through the Delaware Bay and the Chesapeake Bay to Chestertown, Maryland on the Chester River. Chestertown is a beautiful little town with cute shops and cafés and brick-paved, tree-lined sidewalks. From the edge of town you can see the harbor and the idyllic Chester River and the center of town was a short walk from where we were docked. We were there at the perfect time for stunning fall leaves and were fortunate to have beautiful weather.

The Kalmar Nyckel on the Chester River

Walking around Chestertown on a perfect fall day off

Chestertown is the homeport of the schooner Sultana and each year they invite other tall ships on the east coast to take part in their downrigging festival. Since the northeast coast isn’t great for sailing in the winter, many of the tall ships downrig – remove sails, masts, etc. – before hauling out at the end of the season. The weekend was filled with public sails and deck tours as well as fireworks, a dinner/mingle for all the boat crews, and a costume contest (it was Halloween, after all). I'm proud to say that two of our crew members won prizes for the best costumes!
The crew in costume

Before leaving Chestertown, we took down two of our three sails and then made our way back to Bivalve for the last time. The two days after our return were spent taking pretty much everything off the boat except for the masts and stuff that would be used in yard. Even the masts will be coming off for the winter since the boat has to go up the river and under bridges that are too low for the masts. It would have been cool to see that but the crane wasn't ready before we left. 
Looking back towards the helm on our last transit to Bivalve

Sunset on the last transit!

While it may come as a shock to you, the work of a deckhand is not always glamorous and the end of the season came with a lot of mundane but necessary tasks such as cleaning, moving stuff around, and getting the boat ready for winter maintenance. It does make you especially grateful for good people with whom you can find ways to laugh with when doing even the most unpleasant tasks, such as emptying the toilet's holding tank with a manually operated pump. It is, after all, the people who make or break a place and I'm so happy to have worked with such a great captain and crew!

It's always an adjustment coming home after being away traveling or working in another state. I'm happy to be home where I can relax and spend time with family and friends, especially during the holidays, but it's easy to get bored and restless and loose motivation. Over the next couple months, I'm going to try to be better about finding new things to do around here and seeing the area I've known my whole life with the eyes of a traveler! 

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