On The Winds Of Change

So the winds of change blow across the lake and there is open water where there was none before.  Open, but not quite enough to put the Cap’n Lem in the water yet.  Ships are coming and going now without the Icebreaker’s help.  That’s a good sign.  Late last night I heard one’s mournful call to the open the bridge.  One long blast followed by two short blasts on the ships whistle, answered in kind by the bridge to signal its readiness to lift up and out of the way.   It was as if it were calling me too, “Tommy, get ready, get ready…”   I could hear the ship’s bow crunch through ice then nothing then crunch again. 





Putting the Cap’n Lem in the water is only a milestone.  The trip began a long time ago, when I broke Arctic ice aboard the Coast Guard Icebreaker Polar Sea for the first time.  That was the beginning of my love affair with the Arctic, that wonderful land and sea so far away, so cold and so very beautiful.  Of course I don’t remember exactly when the idea that I could try the Northwest Passage first came to me.  It just seems it’s always been there since those days.  Does a voyage like this, a voyage of a lifetime, really need a beginning?  Perhaps all it needed was to be dreamed, really dreamed, with no clear beginning and no clear ending.   Then it needed me to get out of the way so it could happen in its time.  And it needed me to realize this is not my voyage but our voyage.  Going alone is not being alone.  You are coming too.  And that makes all the difference in the world.

The fireplace onboard keeps the cold out and makes for a very pleasant workplace.  I pulled wires and installed modems and inverters, GPSs and AISs, all kinds of weird and wonderful contraptions to make a sailors life safer at sea.    All things Captain Lem’s first shipmates could never have conceived.  “See through the fog?!! Never!”  “Know your position, speed and direction… at a glance?  How could it be!” they would say. (Oh, Captain James Cook, what would you have given for a chronometer like my little Timex, accurate to a second a year?  Accurate time is accurate latitude and longitude.  Accurate latitude and longitude is safety at sea.  How amazed you would have been to see the little timepiece on my wrist.)  But Captain Lem lived to understand the value of RADAR, LORAN, and even GPS,  all strange sounding names to the landsman but life’s blood to sailors like us.     They all need wires,  + wires, – wires, red wires, black wires, brown, white, blue, and yellow wires  They all needing to be pulled.  .  All that electricity my beautiful little windmill makes needs somewhere to flow!  So I pulled wires yesterday.  I’ll pull some more today.


The winds of change

The winds of change





One Response to “On The Winds Of Change”

  1. Pia says: