It is a blustery day off the coast of Antigua, an eastern Caribbean island know for its 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. I’m bucket-list ticking as part of a crew aboard a 106′ wooden ship called Grayhound in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. And yeah, not only am I the only gringo on the boat (most are Brits), but I am the oldest sailor on deck. Waves are ten feet high and the winds over 30 mph. No worries. The vessel I am on is a replica of a 3-mast lugger built in Britain in 1776. I am old boat sailing in the 21st. century.
Meanwhile, shit is hitting the proverbial fan for the competition. A broken tiller here, a smashed spreader there. Then Mistress, a classic schooner out of Key West, cracks her mast—end of the game for that beautiful boat. But we roar on. The Grayhound groans under the strain of the trades. We have two sails up, large, heavy canvas much like that of boats from a couple centuries ago. Our captain, Marcus Rowden, just smiles as he carves the bow through the turbulent, blue water.
Grayhound is a traditional boat, and as such, we use terms long forgotten by many sailors today. My favorite is Two-Six–Heave! It harkens back to the days of the
British Royal Navy when cannon crews won the battles. Two and Six were positions of those sailors who pulled the cannon back into position after the shot. They hauled lines to do so. The command eventually transferred to deckhands hauling in lines above and that is what we are doing today.
Diamond, the only Antiguan aboard, shouts it out. Two-Six! as he pulls hard on the sheet. We respond as we haul in the slack, Heave! Two-Six–Heave! Two-Six–Heave! It is a maritime rhythm that fits this deck of wood, tar and heavy metal. Eventually, the line is in tight, the sail full and we are roaring off the coast like pirates from another time. Arrgghh. Two-Six–Heave!