Tall Ships

Sailing on The Victory Chimes

September 1998

The Victory Chimes at dock and ready to be rigged down.

The Victory Chimes is a three-masted Ram Schooner that sails out of Rockland, ME. She was built in 1900 and originally served as a timber carrier. She has had a long and interesting history.

At over 300 tons, crewing on the Victory Chimes is an enviable tour for would-be professional sailors seeking experience on larger sailing vessels. As a result, she consistently attracts dedicated crew members.

She has no engine on board, but is assisted by a two-ton, diesel driven yawl boat.

She has a regular crew of eight and can carry about forty passengers. Three crew members are responsible for the galley and areas below deck. The other five run the deck.

The crew jokingly refer to the passengers as 'paying crew' since they are encouraged (but not required) to work...at least in helping raise the sails. I needed no such encouragement, spending time in the galley filling in for a flu-stricken crew member, stowing line on deck, helping raise sail, and whatever else I could do.

This was to be the last cruise of the season and I decided to remain aboard for an extra day to help rig down, and the Captain was kind enough to offer me my cabin for an extra night.

As it turned out we finished the day at 1630, signaled by the First Mate appearing on deck with a cold beer in hand. Being so early, I chatted with the crew a while before going ashore to return home.

A Note About Working on a Boat

I am by no means a seasoned seaman, but after spending some time on a working lobster boat, I know the importance of learning about a thing before doing it. What the crew makes look easy can bend the back of a desk-jockey like me. Don't blindly jump in. Get instruction from the crew first, then try your hand at it. An inappropriate, or a poorly tied knot could come loose. A poorly coiled line may foul. At best, a poorly done job could cause inconvenience and embarrassment; at worst it could cause injury.

The crew of Victory Chimes always thanked me for helping...and also thanked me for knowing when not to. Some procedures are complicated and take trained crew, working in unison, to perform efficiently. My jumping in without that training would have only made their job harder.

There is much to do for the 'wanna-be' sailor and I learned a lot from the Captain and crew. There are those of us who can't go to sea without taking an active hand, and by so doing, being a part of the experience; be it working a lobster boat, or sailing a tall ship.

One day, while working in the galley with the First Mate to clear a clogged drain, someone asked, "How did you get stuck with that job?". I smiled and thought to myself, "How could I not?".


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