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Ship, Shipmate, Self

By Captain Michael Fiorentino

Welcome to the Virtual Great Chesapeake Schooner Race. As you follow along with us virtually, we also wanted to share with you what’s it like to be on a schooner at sea. 

You might wonder, how big a crew is required to sail the ship?  The answer varies depending on what we are doing.  As few as 6 can move the ship around, but mostly under motor and certainly not with all sails up.  That requires more…the big ones are heavy and supported by a solid wood gaff that is also heavy.  There are bunks for 26 crew members but are seldom all filled.  A crew of 15 to 20 can sail the ship under all conditions…as long as they work together.

The most important thing is that the crew function as one… that’s where the expression “ship, shipmates, self” originated. While underway, our priority is the safety and integrity of the ship, then we should consider the needs of our shipmates, and lastly our personal wants and wishes.

Shipmates need to help each other out and when hard work is required, like raising the mainsail, all must pull as one.  That is where sea shanties came from.  The shanties provided the rhythm to the crew to haul or heave together working in unison to achieve a momentous task.

For the schooner race, during which we might have all 8 sails, more than 6500 square feet, flying we must all work together for sail raising and sail evolutions—trimming sails, tacking, jibing, etc.

For the virtual GCBSR, we also all need to pull together—every bit helps. $25, 50, $500 will all help us reach out goal. So, please, help our ship by being a generous shipmate.