Lawrence Fischman, a word. Please.
The Cradle of my Heart

Tall Ships at port, Tall Ships at sea

Tall Ships

The SSV Corwith Cramer at home at Woods Hole -  Falmouth, MA

The ship prefix, SSV can represent two distinctly different vessels. Could be, only I'm amused by this. 

  1. SSV - Sailing School Vessel
  2. SSV - Submarine and Special Warfare Support Vessel

Huh. The SSV Corwith Cramer is a Sailing School Vessel; however, given the history of this particular Tall Ship, I guess it could go either way. The Corwith Cramer is classified as a Brigantine ship which means it has two masts with square rigging. It's a fast ship, in that it can outpace a Galleon in acceleration, but sinks like a stone, apparently. 

A Brigantine can carry up to twenty cannons into battle and a crew of 125 able bodied people. That's a shit ton of weight when you think about it. In the 13th century, the Brigantine was known as a sail and oar driven war vessel. Pirates LOVED this ship. Don't blame 'em. 

Here are some nifty stats for the SSV Corwith Cramer, specifically:

  • Sparred Length: 134'
  • Weight: 158 Tons
  • Sail Area: 2,380 square feet
  • Hull: Steel
  • Built in 1987
  • Crew: 10 (don't really need 125 if you're not at war)

The Cat and I (experimenting with a new name, let's see if it sticks)...

The Cat and I had dinner at Woods Hole and then went around front to watch the sun set. The sunset was as expected on The Cape. Perfect. The Tall Ship in front of me was unexpected. 

I lived ON the Connecticut coast for thirty-seven years. I married a sailor from Stamford and I know a bit about small racing craft. His family sailed a J/22 and I spent a good many summers staying the hell out of the way; but I can scrub a deck like nobody's business. Later, I spent some time with a man who completed the Trans-Atlantic Race with a refurbished J/44. He's responsible for the refurb as well as repairing the hull with scraps after an accident about 200 miles off the Coast of England. When I met him he was selling Hanse 400 series boats. They're big. They're fast. They require a crew. They made me nervous. Truthfully, I can bring a J/22 in by myself if I absolutely have to; assuming reasonable weather, and VERY light traffic. 

I spent a fair amount of time on the docks in Southern, CT that serve as home port to everything from a single engine noise maker (yeah, I'm not fond of them) to yachts that start at nine figures (no decimal points) new. I was invited to board a ship that was apparently no longer seaworthy, but beautifully restored, inside and out. It was like stepping into the 19 century. It was stepping into the 19th century, with the exception of the still ambulatory occupants. Its masts were down and it was dark but the thing had to be at least 80', maybe more. Mostly I recall the crushed red velvet seats and the brass lamps. 

But I don't know Tall Ships with the exception of the museum pieces at Mystic Seaport. Captain Jack Sparrow had a Galleon at some point, but that's just a series of moving images. 

The Tall Ship at Woods Hole took my breath away. I couldn't see well enough to be sure what the crew was up to, but there's something about crew up in the rigging of a ship out of context that can momentarily rip a hole right through time. I wanted to run down to the dock and beg permission to board. In the time of COVID, not so much. Any other time, I'd have joyfully made an ass of myself for the 1% chance that I'd be permitted to board. 

But not today, and maybe not any day. Tuesday evening was a passing glance at something that may fade entirely into history very quickly. The window that cleared on my Monday morning post-apocalyptic adventure on Glen Island Park was still mostly fog free. I didn't think, the way I might have, that this was a thing I could truly get close to. What I thought was, this is a thing that is about to become a mirage. Maybe it already was. 

Falmouth is ranks right up there with the best in terms of COVID awareness and responsibility. With the exception of seriously out of state tourists, nobody was mask-less unless the distance from the nearest human was significant. I learned a couple things while I was there. I learned those things and I felt a little bit safer, a little more hopeful.

And then I went to New Hampshire.

I'm not much willing to dine indoors under even the best of circumstances. I agreed to Wednesday night because it was raining and the inside distancing was better than most; certainly more than six feet. I sat inside the booth against the wall and tried not to breathe. In the morning we went to a hole in the wall breakfast place of the sort I truly love and spent thirty minutes in a state of terror. 

I could have gotten up and walked away. I could have just not gone inside. I could probably have done so with enough imagination and grace that the rest of my group could have continued with breakfast while I took a walk. 

The cheerful sign on the front door read:

Masks Optional

Our server wore her blue mask just above her top lip. Barely. 

I turned my face to the window and put my mask back on. Now I am quarantining. 

I will return in two weeks. I will make sure all meals are in the home. I will walk with my aunt in the wide open spaces and I will sift through the memories of her childhood in the house. I do have the power to keep myself safe, and therefore the people around me; and I do have the power to be with my family in spite of our collective inability to take this shit seriously. The collective We. Our collective inability. Our collective unwillingness. I don't mean my family. I mean my Family. 

And that's the thing, isn't it? We are too connected to hunker down and pretend that anyone outside our immediate bubble is not our family. Even the buffoons (you think there's just one?!) in the Whitehouse are our family. Like it or not.

Gods. That's a tough pill to swallow, isn't it? I cannot keep my family safe, but I can treat human beings with the full understanding that We the People are born of the same mother.

We are Tall Ships at port and Tall Ships at sea. Not alone, not ever alone.