Saturday, March 20, 2010

Climbing And Welding: Yardarms and Building a High Speed Trawl


The crew of the Stad Amsterdam are stoked about building a new trawl out of the scrap steel lying around. I’m in heaven standing in the stern workshop welding iron bars and rods to make a prototype trawl that can collect a valid surface sample at 8-10 knots. Yesterday we launched the suitcase manta trawl, which performs well at 3 knots. Captain Andy explained that even with the sails down, the ship alone acts like a sail and still moves at 5 knots or better. “It will be difficult to reduce our speed to 3 knots. Can you build a faster net?” the captain ask“Sure,” I replied. It will take a couple of days to figure it out.

It’s 12:30 and time for our climbing lesson. If you want to climb the rigging and sit on top of the main mast, above the 6th sail, then you’ve got to know where to put your feet. There’s a spider web of rigging and lines dangling from the masts. We don harnesses and begin to ascend. Anna goes first. Like a little monkey she scampers up the mast to the first platform. I lumber up the ladder behind her.

The mizzen mast, the third and last mast of the three on deck, is 75 feet tall. We stop at the first platform and scoot across the yard arm. The yard arm is a 40ft pole as thick as a tree trunk that hangs horizontal to the deck. A giant square sail, like a blanket that could cover a house, hangs down from the yard arm. It’s full of wind and balloons out like a giant belly. Anna and I hug the yard arm for a while and marvel at the view. There’s nothing but blue ocean all around.


Anonymous said...

Faith Lutheran
Las Vegas Nevada

I was wondering what each of you are most hoping to accomplish on this trip, what your most excited to see?

Anonymous said...

Greetings! We are the fifth graders of Rutledge Hall in Lincolnwood, IL, just north of Chicago. We are wondering if you have heard about the green plastic breakthrough at Stanford ( and what your thoughts are on it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Heather from River Ridge High School in New Port Richey, FL I was wondering what you eat for food? Do you catch fish and eat them? Do you have a full kitchen aboard or do you eat ready made meals like the army?