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    The Christmas Tree Schooner

    Originally posted on The Boho Traveller. December, turn of the 20th century- Chicago.  A young boy and his family stroll down to the  Clark Street docks with 7 schooners lined up, draped in fairy lights, stocked with Christmas trees.  The boy drags his mother over to the famous Schooner Rouse Simmons, so they can pick their holiday tree from the hands of Captain Santa.  The boy doesn’t know his real name, but Herman Schuenemann was a well seasoned Christmas Tree runner, having commanded 4 ships previously, helps the boy and his mother pick out the perfect Christmas Tree, to be delivered later on.  Herman Schuenemann was known for his generosity and…

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    Three Sheets to the Wind

    Ever encountered any one at a bar, have them point to a friend or stranger and say “that one right there is three sheets to the wind.”? No? Well if you have you may be interested to know this phrase comes from the days of sailing, the oldest print record being from 1813. The varying levels of sailors drunkenness depended on how many sheets they had to their windward side (something you don’t want to do while sailing)- metaphorically speaking. So a sailor who was incoherently stumbling around at the bar was ‘3 sheets in the wind’, someone only just a little tipsy was ‘one sheet in the wind’, or…

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    How to Pick a Pirate out of a Group of Privateers

    So there is this idea in today’s society that pirates are these awesome people who dressed in fancy clothing, while sailing around the world living the ideal life, and doing pretty much whatever they wanted.  While this is true, it’s highly a highly romanticized picture thanks to the overwhelming love of pirates by the media. What is less accepted is that pirates were pretty bad people who were killers, thieves, and generally didn’t live for very long. Some of these “pirates” people talk about so frequently may actually not have been pirates at all, some were privateers working for their country, and you’ve just been hearing one side of the story.  These privateers did everything…

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    Elbows off the Table Please!

    With Easter coming around make sure you are minding your Ps and Qs (a bartending term used when sailors were around), and as your grandmother tells you “keep your elbows off the table!”.  But why exactly are we supposed to keep our elbows off the table?  It’s not exactly like it’s doing any harm, except maybe taking up some of your second cousin’s table room at a crowded family dinner. The reasoning for keeping your elbows off the table goes much further back in time than that.  In the glory days of sailing finding capable seaman to work the decks of a ship could be hard to wrangle up.  Those unscrupulous…

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    Three Square Meals

    Growing up parents often stress to their children the importance of getting three square meals a day, that’s how you grow up to be strong and healthy of course.  My parents not only stressed that, but my dad, being full of nautical nonsense, was determined to tell everyone why exactly they are called square meals. I mean after all, why aren’t they called three round meals, or heptagonal, or triangular (you see where I’m going with this). Eating on board the high seas was no easy task and sailors in the Royal Navy during the great age of sail were no stranger to this, so steps were taken to improve the…

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    The Alligator Class Schooners

    As we come to the end of Black-History month, we honor the victims of slavery. Schooners played a large role in both the trade movement and battling of slavery, as the course of their use for the US government lasted until the industrial revolution was booming. 177 years ago, in February of 1839, slave hunters from Portugal abducted 53 documented Africans from Sierra Leone to be shipped to Havana, then a center for the slave trade.  This transaction was breaking all treaties that had been formed.  On July 1st, after reaching Cuba and being purchased by two Spanish Planters, the group of abducted Africans seized control of the new ship they were on, the…

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    A Sailor’s Valentine

    A day at sea, and a sailor falls in love.  A month at sea, a sailor wants to find love.  A year at sea and a sailor misses his love.  Without the technology of today, sailors of past generations couldn’t send a cute text saying, “I miss you”, and phone calls were certainly out of the question. So then what was the best way to show his lady back at home how he really felt? Valuables couldn’t be kept on board, they could potentially be stolen, or lost. Then came about an idea- a token- to remember times spent away at sea.  A concept believed to have blossomed originally on the island of Barbados,…

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    Classic Sailing Poetry – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Crossing the Bar Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1889) Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea, But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home. Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark; For though from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crossed the bar.

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    Classic Sailing Poetry – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    The Secret of the Sea Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (from Seaside and Fireside, 1850) Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me As I gaze upon the sea! All the old romantic legends, All my dreams, come back to me. Sails of silk and ropes of sandal, Such as gleam in ancient lore; And the singing of the sailors, And the answer from the shore! Most of all, the Spanish ballad Haunts me oft, and tarries long, Of the noble Count Arnaldos And the sailor’s mystic song. Like the long waves on a sea-beach, Where the sand as silver shines, With a soft, monotonous cadence, Flow its unrhymed lyric lines:— Telling how the…

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    Rainy Daze Part I

    With a rainy day lingering in the oldest city, a schooner crew can get restless. It’s a great time to sit down with some great nautical literature! Some of our favorite sailing books: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than ninety days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival. This true story is the basis for the fictional classic, Moby Dick. I read this book…