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  • Tall Ships America

The Red Light

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

Editor's note: Candace, James and Susannah transited the Welland Canal from Lake Ontario into Lake Erie on their way to Basil Port of Call:Buffalo, we're posting a few of their blogs from the Redpath Waterfront Festival Toronto event.

US Brig Niagara arrives at Redpath Waterfront Festival Toronto

Last night was my first night staying aboard Niagara. I had an awful night of sleep, but that’s typical because I always struggle adjusting to new spaces. I came back to Niagara around one A.M. last night because Susannah, a fellow summer intern, and a crew member from Niagara, Joshua, and I, went on an expedition to find poutine. I lost track of how far we walked, but eventually we stumbled upon a nice bar, only to find they didn’t have poutine. I received a collective group hug from Josh and Susannah to comfort me after such a devastating loss. I will get poutine. I promise, it will happen.

I assumed that after walking thirteen miles around Toronto that I’d just pass out as soon as my head hit the pillow, but that was not the case. When I came back onboard the ship around one A.M., I meandered myself into my hammock, which was simultaneously awkward and fun, and encountered the omnipresent red light.

At night, the main cabin where about twelve other crew members and I sleep, there’s a red light that’s kept on the entire night. Without it, the room would be in almost entire darkness, so it helps when people come in late or when they’re changing watch. The red light generated this in-between illumination, casting me into a sleepful sleeplessness. I was not sure whether I was awake or asleep the entire night. Oddly enough, even though I was surrounded by people on both sides of me sleeping in their hammocks, I was not claustrophobic. It felt like we were all in it this indecisive space together and I was welcomed as a member of the crew. Tomorrow will be better I’m sure. I think I’ll have to be that person who wears an eye mask and headphones. I will look fabulous doing it.

It feels so special to be writing this on deck with the enormous double masts above me. I did a pretty mediocre job drawing one if the masts of Niagara (I had a lot of time this morning since I woke up at six A.M.). I’m hoping that paying attention to all the details will make learning run a lot smoother. James tried to teach me the difference between the different types of ships, but it mostly went over my head. It was like hearing a foreign language and occasionally picking up a word you recognize. I should make flashcards. I am determined to learn and soak up as much information as I can.

Today is the last day of the Redpath Waterfront Festival Toronto and tomorrow the other interns and I will start our journey to Buffalo. Susannah and I did our first up and over with James helping out. This is perhaps too much of a simplification, but an up and over involves climbing about fifty feet to a platform and back down the other side. I was terrified before I did it, but I had so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again! It’s going to be a crazy to start sailing. Wish me luck!