Stories From the Crow's Nest (1 of 10)
I once was one with the sun. The vessel’s eyes was I.
Swallowing clouds, coated by a film of salt. I’d watch the
horizon for hours on end, keeping a watchful eye for mysterious shapes and trying to predict the weather ahead. It wasn’t something I liked to do, but it wasn’t something I hated doing either. I was indifferent about the matter and sometimes would struggle to find peace on one side or the other.
I remember the first time I was sent up. My gut tied in a bowline as I clambered up the tar-glazed rat lines. Mist freckled my ankles as I climbed towards the heavens. I dared not look down, nor starboard or port, just straight at the crow’s nest. The tip-top. When I reached the top, I was grateful. It was easier to get in than I had thought. The ropes went right underneath the bottom hoop, and I had no worries about trying to hang on and climb over the rim of the hoops as the bobbing mast danced a jig.
The nest was bigger than you lubbers imagine. Half of the bottom was open where the lines went through, and the other was solid oak decking. The bottom was roughly two and a half feet in diameter and was sturdy enough that a poor cuss like myself could do a job and not feel entirely at risk. I remember a sense of liberation that day; the bowline in my belly had quickly subsided, and I felt liberated.
My duty was one twelve-hour shift per day. It was a damn tough task to be stranded that far from the rest of the crew, unshielded by whatever elements decided to come our way. The upside, however, was the leisure time I got. Not even officers got twelve hours of leisure a day.