Archive for the 'The Crows Nest' Category

Aboard the USS Spruance

This morning we visited the USS Spruance which is in San Francisco for Fleet Week. The ships gunnery officer, she’s the one in charge of the 5-inch gun behind Peabody, guided us through the ship which is the Navy’s newest guided missile destroyer. Most of the crew was on shore leave which gave us the opportunity to visit the Combat Information Center, the heart of the Spruance’s operations. It’s tight and dark with seat-belted chairs and monitors everywhere. Two big screens provide a video feed from the deck. It reminded us of the screen from Star Trek’s Enterprise. The mess hall holds the bell from the original Spruance, a destroyer that served from 1973-2005. Babies born to crew members can be baptized in the bell. We’ll be looking out for the Spruance as she raises anchor and heads out under the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow. And if you wondered what the proper procedures for abandoning ship are, read this ship’s sign.

Maltese Falcon Spotted

We spotted the mega-yacht Maltese Falcon doing circles in the Bay on her first visit to San Francisco. Its carbon fiber masts are technically impressive, but the lack of rigging makes the ship appear sterile and soulless. I’ll stick with the Millennium Falcon. She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.

Pirate for a Day

This weekend we docked at the NorCal Pirate Festival. Imagine renaissance faire with pirates and wenches instead of knights and damsels. There were some really elaborate costumes and pirate camps. Bands played sea shanties and pirate themed rock music. There were demonstrations of nautical skills and fencing. And every few hours a red-sailed schooner fired her cannons at the crowd. The guys above hosted a scavenger hunt which we went on with some strangers.

Nettie on the Lady Washington

On Friday my class went to the tall ships in Sausalito. The Lady Washington is a trading ship from the mid-1700s, and the Hawaiian Chieftain is another trading ship from the mid-1800s. We sailed around the Bay on the Lady Washington, and it was really cool! While we were on the boat, the sailors taught us different sea words. Avast means to stop, hold, and listen. If you are pulling on a rope when someone says “Avast!” you don’t want to let go of the rope, or it will go shooting back up. We also learned how to hoist the sails! Pulling on ropes makes you a bit hot and sweaty after a while. All the sailors who work on the boat dress as sailors from the mid-1700s. At the end I took this picture of “Martha”, who’s named after the boat, or the boat is named after her, whichever.

Blow me Down! The Black Pirate!

Peabody sets sail.

In addition to our sea dog themed dinner, for Talk Like a Pirate Day we played a session of The Black Pirate (Der schwarze Pirat) from Haba. Players propel their ships around the board using a small bellows. A roll of the die determines how many puffs you get to fill your sails. It’s a game of skill and requires a degree of patience. Squeeze too lightly and your ship won’t move; squeeze too hard and you’ll overshoot your port and its treasure. With the right crew, it makes for a hilarious half hour of plunderin’.

Pirate Cake or Pirate Clog?

Cake sets sail on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Our cake for Talk Like a Pirate Day was a good first effort. Nettie made the sails and Peabody cut out the little pirate captain. It looks a little bare though. Our next pirate cake will be shorter and include edible props: rolled wafer cookie cannons and root beer barrels.

Yo ho, yo ho, the Pirate Life!

TLAPD founders Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket

Avast! Talk Like a Pirate Day, founded by Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket (above), be September 19. Me crew be plannin’ a feast to celebrate. I’d be for havin’ hardtack and grog but me scurvy lot skuttled that. So we be feastin’ on Corzetti, a pasta that look like pieces ‘o eight, and for dessert, a pirate ship cake. Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen!!!

Sail ho! Tabletop Pirates!

Avast! There be a giant crab on me ship!

This week, the family got back into a game called Pirates. It’s packaged like a collectible card game (Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering) but the styrene cards are punched out to construct unique 3D ships. Each pack comes with everything you need to play a simple game (two ships, an island, treasure, rules and even a little die).

With some help, the rules are simple enough for a five year old to understand. Pirates has been around for a few years and now comes in a variety of themed expansions. To get started, pick up three or four packs from the same theme. Our favorites are the classic Pirates of the Spanish Main, the more fantastic Pirates at Ocean’s Edge, and the Viking themed Pirates of the Frozen North.