Submitted by Mirjam Prudhomm–July 3 was a day not soon to be forgotten by 14 Junior Rangers from Sandspit and Masset and their 5 accompanying adults. This was the day the HMCS Oriole invited the Junior Rangers to go for a three-hour cruise around Skidegate Inlet on this beautiful 102 foot sailboat used by the Canadian Navy to train crew in the art of sailing. It was a gorgeous sunny day when 19 of us boarded HMCS Oriole in Queen Charlotte, welcomed by Captain White and crew. After a welcome, we were given a safety briefing and instructions. Coming out of the dock under power, we met the Ocean Light 11 just coming in and after a mutual admiration of both vessels we pulled away and were ready to set our sails. Young faces were beaming with excitement as the skipper gave his orders and all hands on deck began preparing the sails. There is no room on board for idle passengers and the Junior Rangers were soon put to work undoing sail ties and heaving the lines. So we were under full sail and cut the engines. How quiet it was! With low winds outside of Charlotte, the zodiac was lowered over board and the kids were offered rides. Soon the cat calls were being exchanged about the zodiac being faster, with the Captain calling back that we were much bigger and used less gas. Once out in the open water and the day was heating up, we caught the thermal winds and then it was work for that little zodiac to keep up with us! Still using no gas! The Junior Rangers were put to work every time we had to make a turn and soon learned how to tack sitting on deck with the crew and heaving on the lines to cause the sails to move into position to catch the wind. Yells of 2/6-heave-2/6-heave filled the air. OK, I know what tack and heave mean, but what or where does the 2/6 come into it. It must be a Navy term I just have never heard of. Junior Rangers now know that avast means to stop what you are doing (usually because something isn’t doing what it should) and that the cook on board rules below deck.
Everywhere I looked, I saw crew members talking to the kids and showing them how things worked. Several were sitting on deck learning new knots and alternate ways of tying knots they already knew, over by the Captain were 3 others being taught how to steer. Yes, they actually steered the boat and the Captain walked away! Jayden MacNeil could be heard asking a constant stream of questions that were patiently answered by a variety of crew members, and several were playing Crazy 8s and beating the crew! Lunch was served at noon, and now we know why the cook rules, the potatoes were awesome, the bean barley soup delicious and maybe it was the sea air but I even had a second hot dog, and finished off with fresh melon. Well, unlike the SS Minnow, our 3 hour cruise was about to end safely as we neared the Sandspit Marina, our drop off point. All hands assisted in bringing down the sails and lashing them as we slowly edged our way into the marina, and soon were tied up alongside the old navy barge. We weren’t quite finished though. Monty Cobbs needed to get one last picture and he was hoisted up the mast to get a topside view. The Masset and Sandspit Junior Ranger Patrols would like to thank Captain White and his friendly crew for taking the time to make this a memorable day and we look forward to your next visit to the islands. Until then good sailing!
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