Posted on: May 2, 2011 Posted by: Cole Ruth Comments: 3
Long Island off our port side.
Long Island off our port side.

“I see-ee land,” Bly said, tapping on my window.

Around 1 pm, my phone beeped with the message: “Are you shipshape and Bristol fashion? Good passage?”

As we sailed into the Bay and around the top of Long Island, I got to put on a harness and climb out onto the head-rig to help fold up the sail. I may have been more handicap than help, but it sure was exhilarating to stand out over the waves.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning belowdecks. It’s confounding how much dust builds up when you’re underway. We are slowly getting shipshape, so we can be presentable on Tuesday when we make our grand arrival in Greenport. (As for Bristol fashion, we might well be if I only knew what it meant!)

While we cleaned, we listened to the first music we’d heard in ages. While underway, someone is almost always sleeping, so you’re always trying to be quiet. Except at mealtimes, but those are usually quick affairs, lasting little more than twenty minutes so as relieve the watch that’s going off.

One version of a Cuban sandwich.
One version of a Cuban sandwich.

I have a game I play with the crew. I pick a word and iTunes generates a playlist and they have to guess the theme. We often play games. “Do you feel more like Fräulein Maria or Mary Poppins?” Eve asked me today.

Another question we played at after listening to the This American Life episode on superpowers, was what superpower we each would have. Harrison would be able to breathe under water. Bly would have the power of invisibility. Smith would take indestructibility, but with a secondary power of being able to look at things that need nine layers of varnish and, with a single wave of her hand, have it be done. Rigby wants to have invisibility but with the addition of some other power I can’t remember. Eve wants a “pause button” so she can stop time for a moment, or slow it down. I want the ability to put words in people’s mouths… I love the idea of watching people speak words they don’t mean. That trick always gets me in the movies.

After eating all together for the first time in five days, we spent our first night on the hook watching the Treasure Island Muppet Movie. While washing dishes, I said I hadn’t heard of it and the deckhands’ jaws dropped. Bly went rummaging through our DVD collection and lo and behold, found it in the back of the cabinet. It actually made me a bit sentimental.

The Big Magnet
We anchored in Orient Harbor, inside Gardner’s Bay.

I feel a little out of sorts about being back in the New York area again. I’ve been drawn back to this place, inescapably, over the last two years. I’m flooded with memories. Sometimes we are indeed tied to people and places in a way that defies reason or logic.

It was a cold night. I couldn’t go to sleep without a Nalgeen bottle full of hot water in my sleeping bag. And I had to wear my long johns. Brrr….

If you’re following story, and want to hear about our adventures underway, I’ll back-post the highlights over the next few days.

pbbRASunday’s Menu
Hash with yesterday’s pulled pork and my now-classic biscuits (thanks, White Lily!)
“Cuban” sandwiches – because I put out mustard and ham and pickles: pickled eggs, pickled jalapeno, dill pickles, pickled onions. But I also made homemade sub buns – delicious. A kind of southern slaw with red cabbage. Caramelized onions. Lettuce and gouda and turkey and celery sticks and thinly sliced green bell peppers. Chips and salsa.
Chicken al fredo; mushroom al fredo; bread in a pot; salad
Chocolate-peanut butter bars (in honor of the winner of the Great Marlin Easter Egg Hunt)


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  1. ‘Ship-shape and Bristol fashion’ is actually two phrases merged into one. Ship-shape came first and has Meaning
    In first-class order.
    been used since the 17th century. It is recorded in Sir Henry Manwayring’s The sea-mans dictionary, 1644:
    “It [the rake] being of no use for the Ship, but only for to make her Ship shapen, as they call it.”
    Bristol fashion was added later and is first seen in print during Bristol’s heyday as a trading port, in the early 19th century. For example, this extract from John Davis’ Travels of four years and a half in the United States of America, 1803:
    …says I to the girl, “this is neither ship-shape, nor Bristol fashion.”
    Admiral William Henry Smyth’s 1865 Sailor’s Word-book – an alphabetical digest of nautical terms, which is a treasure trove of nautically inspired phrases, has a definition of the phrase:
    “Said when Bristol was in its palmy commercial days – and its shipping was all in proper good order.”
    Bristol has been an important English seaport for more than a thousand years. The city is actually several miles from the sea and stands on the estuary of the River Avon. Bristol’s habour has one of the most variable tidal flows anywhere in the world and the water level can vary by more than 30 feet between tides. Ships that were moored there were beached at each low tide. Consequently they had to be of sturdy construction and the goods in their holds needed to be securely stowed. The problem was resolved in 1803 with the construction of the Floating Harbour. There’s no absolute proof that the term ‘Bristol fashion’ originates with that geography but the circumstantial evidence seems very strongly in favour of it.

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