Saturday, July 26, 2008

Family History, Part 3

Chapter 1 continued...

The Royal yards was sent aloft and the sails bent on and set. I was then told I was the Captain of the main Royal, and to role up the rigger as soon as I heard the order given to take it in or to loosen it when it was to be set again. The Royal sail is the highest of them all.

The other desk boy had the fore Royal. When the order was given to take the Royals in, we rused up as fast as we could. I had the best of it because I could keep my eye on him and see how he was doing. He, on the other hand, had to turn his head around to watch me. When we were finished we slid down the backstays to the deck. The one who hit the deck first was the winner, providing he had done a snug job of it. Everything went fine. We were now sailing smoothly in the North East Trades until we entered the Doldrum Belt. With calm, light winds once in a while and plenty of heavy rains we were kept busy filling our water tanks and pulling sheets and braces when little puffs we could so as to work the ship out of the Doldrums and catch the South East Trade wind. In time we caught a few South East puffs, and finally it came steady and bowled us over the Equator and south along the South American coast.

When on the Equator (we call it the line) all of us that had not crossed before were baptized. Father Neptune came over the bow driping wet, the water running over his whiskers. "Ship ahoy!" he calls, "what's the name of the ship and from what Port, and where bound?" When he was given the information and a drink from the Captain he wanted to know how many of the men had not been baptized. When told only two boys needed it, the tub of grease, water and a mop, and a wooden razor were brought out to shave us with. I tried to evade it by jumping up in the rigger but I was caught and thrown in the tub, shaved with the wooden razor, and presented with the diploma that goes to anyone who has been properly baptized on crossing the line. Father Neptune got another drink, shook hands with the Captain, wished use the best of luck, ad wen the way he had come.

to be continued...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Family History, Part 2

Chapter 1: This is how it began and who knows how it will end.


The next morning when the ship sailed, most of the crew drunk - or nearly so - and all were feeling good and happy. As we began to sail out on the Fjord, we all gathered on the Forecastle Head and gave the town the usual farewell of three rousing "hurrahs".

As we got around Fungeness the weather began to get bad and we were now in the North Sea, and it began to blow with a heavy wind. It was now dark and raining. The captain ordered the sails taken in and the upper top sails to be reefed. As the men started up the rigger they told me and the other deck boy to stay on deck and clear up the ropes around the mast as we were no good aloft. That was agreeable to both of us! The ship was rolling and in the heavy seas and some ofit was coming over the rails. I was beginning to get seasick. We hung around the mast doing what we could in clearing up the ropes when, all at once, the chief officer spotted us and with a roar that was heard above wind and sea called out, "What the hell are you two doing there?" Well, we said the men told us we would be no good aloft in this weather and that we should clear the ropes. With another roar, he said, "Get the hell up and help to reef the sail!!" And up we went in the dark and rain as rapidly as we could and out on the yard arm with the rest. I tied two reef points and was all ready to feel proud of myself when the ship was snugged down from the gale. The men said to us, "What the hell did you two come up for, you were no good up there." My answer to that was that I had tied two reef points so in my estimation I had been of some help.

That first night at sea made a sailor out of me.

The days following the weather moderated and the coast of England showed up one forenoon. A tugboat took us and towed the ship into the Harbor of Sunderland. That night some of the sailors went ashore and took me along with them. I went shopping for tobacco and other needed things. I bought a tin coffee cup, knife and fork. In those days you had to carry bedding and dishes with you. When that was done I started back to the ship but I got lost among all the docks and ships. After midnight, I came across a policeman and made him understand that I was hopelessly lost. He then took me to the Station House where I was questioned, and me not knowing any English finally got them to understand that I was a sailor on a ship whose name was "Freda". They then found in their book where she was docked and they sent the cop with me. When we came to the ship the crew was fighting amongst themselves and I heard them say in Norwegian, "Where did you leave him and why did you let him go alone?" When they saw me with the cop the fight stopped. When the Policeman calmed them the men then dug down in their pockets for money for the cop -- Experience No. 1.

I decided then and there that I would learn the English language as soon as possible.

After loading coal for Buenos Aires we set sail. The weather was now fine and we made a good run along the coast and through the English Channel, then south along the African Coast until we picked up the northeast trade winds.

to be continued....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Family History, Part 1

Several years ago, my father-in-law shared with me a notebook that was written by his grandfather. Transcribed for my FIL's aunts by friends of the family, it is currently typewritten on an onion skin paper in a 3-ring binder.

A sailor from Norway who had some tall sailor tales to tell. I found his stories utterly charming and fascinating...and I'm assured by the family they are true.

So in the spirit of sharing...and to get me out of a serious "I miss my kitty" funk - let us begin.


This is an honest attempt at bringing your father's written manuscript to better reading form. Actually, as it has turned out, it is really a good "draft".

We received pleasure and many laughs throughout the story. There were also touches of sadness, the many hardships he had to endure at such an early age. His spelling and vocabulary were exceptional for a man without formal education. His appreciation for our Country was touching. He said and did many cute things. He had a THING about page 75, there were about 6 of them in the original manuscript 75, 75 1/2, 75 1/4, 74 3/8. Where he said "meself" and it sounded cute, we left it. Many words and names were unfamiliar to us but we did our best under the circumstances.

Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!
Peggy and Agnes



About the year 1908 I was in charge of Mr. H. A. Morris' yacht. One day he came on board to go sailing and he had two young ladies with him. Before we got started Mr. Morris said, "You are to tell us your life story and if you don't we will leave you ashore."

"Well", I said, "you just go ahead and sail without me. I don't know of anything of interest to tell you."

"You should have one story at least."

Then he started to ask questions. "How old were you when you started to go to sea?"

"I was about 14 years old," I replied.

"Where did you sail to?", and so forth, and then drawing me on until I came to the part about Quebec, Canada where I ran away from my ship, was captured and put in jail on the Plains of Abraham for safekeeping, and all my doings while there. Then he asked me if I wrote to my Mother about being in jail. I said no, but when I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and wrote my Mother I said I was sorry I hadn't written before becuase I had a sore finger.

All at once the two ladies started to cry and tears were running down their faces. Mr. Morris took a look at them, turned to me and said, "Damn you sailors for telling yarns like that."


Chapter One
This is How it Began and Who Knows How it Will End

I must have had salt water in my blood as far back as I can remember. There were always models and paintings of ships and real sailing vessels of all types. The early memory I have of ships was when my cousin Gustaf Foero came to our house and told my Mother that my Father's ship was entering the Stavanger Fjord and got her permission to take me with him. Off we went in a hurry to get a rowboat. We then rowed out to meet a big sailing vessel coming in. The sailors were beginning to take in some sails. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Houses along the Stavanger Fjord

"There is your Father on the Poop Deck", Gustaf said, and my Father waved to us to come alongside. A ladder was put over the side and I was helped up and into my Father's arms. I had never seen my Father before, but I had a glorious time. He showed me a big model of a ship he had made for me, and as the ship was bound in from the Mediterranian I had oranges and nuts to eat. The ships name was "Haugesund". It was one of the ships he commanded.

There was anotehr he had before called "Fredon". Then there was another called "Walborg". Another Bark later on was partically wrecked but he managed to sail her into a Northern town called Aslesund on the coast of Norway and there rests her timbers now.

It was in the late winter of 1889 or perhaps it was 1890 in the town of Stavanger, Norway. I was then 14 or 15 years of age. I had a job in a furniture store. I did not like it very much. I wanted to sail the seas as my father was doing. I amde the rounds of the shipping offices looking for a job as a Deck Boy but I had no success. One told me I was a Captain's son, I did not need a job as a lot of worse off boys, and it was not until some friends of ours spoke for me to a shipping master named Helland that I got started as Deck Boy on a Bark named "Ferda" which was about to sail.

My mother knew about my determination to make the sea my lifes' work so she gave in. I had a couple of days to get ready and rig myself up with sea boots and oilskins. My uncle Faroe gave me a heavy coat that one of his sailors had left behind him in his ship. That evening, aboard the ship, I rigged meself out in my new sailor outfit and went ashore to show the town that "here comes a sailor".

To be continued...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Loss of A Pet

No one ever said it better than Jimmy Stewart.

It's the Never Agains that Get You

C.K. Dexter Haven


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Now Under New Management

That's me. I'm under new management. (No not at LIFE!)

There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self...Aldous Huxley

After a week of eye-opening leisure time, I've started this week with all new resolutions I hope to keep long term. Starting with...
  1. Get to work earlier and leave earlier. This doesn't necessarily mean a shorter day, but hopefully it means that I'm able to enjoy summer evenings at home.
  2. Eat better. Try to be more conscious of my diet and eat healthier. I'd like to lose weight, but more importantly, I'd like to stop eating so much energy-draining junk.
  3. Swim every night. Too often the summer goes by and I've barely used the pool. I'm two for two on this so far this week and I can feel it in my back and shoulders. It's great to do some laps and then shower and wash my hair afterwards. Very relaxing for bed time.
  4. Be more efficient with time. This also feeds number one, and may cause a slow-down in blogging as it was my number one procrastination vice. But today, I'm eating a healthy fruit salad and half bran muffin for lunch and blogging too.
  5. Make time for friends. Enjoyed a visit with Amybow and Kiki last night. This happens too infrequently and is usually tied to a rushed lunch at the local cafeteria. Instead, Kiki and I left the office at 4PM (amazing!) and enjoyed a nice dinner and visit with Amybow and her charming little ones.
  6. Enjoy minor victories. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the large and expensive projects that need to happen at home, enjoy little accomplishments. On Sunday I shelf-lined two corner cupboards. Not ALL the cupboards, just those two. In the process I discarded all the old topless tupperware (doesn't that sound like a great blog name? or maybe a famous stripper name?) stacked my platters so they didn't fall out when cupboard was opened, and organized the odds and ends that accumulate there.

We'll see if I can stick to these in the coming days and weeks.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sunshine and Free Time

We are enjoying our break...really.

While life and work have intruded here or there (a wake to attend, an errand to run, an email to answer) for the most part the time has been our own.

And now, mid-week, we may have found that the free time is doing strange things to our brains. I'm feeling a little lost and a little guilty. This lack of structure, with lots of good weather, and no real crises to manage, is a very strange place to be.

It's too nice out to paint the bathroom, or clean out the closets, or shelf-paper the kitchen. It's too hot out to add the filler sand to the patio, or weed the garden, or clean out the shed.

So, it is 12:37 on Wednesday. Pretty much dead-center in our week off, and I'm pushing through the wierdness believing that I can and will continue to relax and enjoy this time off. I'm heading to the pool...again...and my book...again...and pouring some more ice tea in a plastic cup...and I will enjoy it.

God damn it.

I will.