Posted by: Blue Lou Logan | March 22, 2015

Letters from the ‘Starbird’ #2


22 March, 1815

My darling Sophie!

I received your letter two days ago, and I cannot stop reading it! I know we have barely been apart, and that I have not even set sail yet, but your affection means the world to me. It will soon be difficult, and ever more difficult, for us to share our words and thoughts. My heart reaches out to you, and it always will, wherever I may roam.

I am proud and pleased to say that I have completed the basic training. We learned of still more ports, from the deep fjords of Scandinavia to the perfumed markets of Morocco. There has been discussion of the Far East, but I have been led to believe that these are not profitable waters for us at this time. Because many of our crew are not from the local isles, I was tasked with introducing them to the landmarks of Ireland and Scotland, which, I think, I did with great aplomb.

Indeed, Lieutenant Darland seems to be impressed with my enthusiasm thus far. As I was just saying, my mates come from many different backgrounds–not just where they were born, but where their experiences have brought them. I have become a bit of a tutor…and, to be honest, a bit of a show off. Yes, dear, I know this comes as a big surprise to you.

There is so much to know. We have been practicing hauling, furling, unfurling…so many tasks. Then there are all the knots and rope work. At the core, there are the rules to remember for the functioning of the ship and for the trade in the ports. But it is becoming increasingly critical to listen to the wisdom of the experienced, able hands. The Lieutenant is more and more having us shadow the existing crew. Some of the ones I have been with… Giancarlo, who served on the vessel before it came into its present ownership. Ryan, who was once in the Navy and maintains, at least for himself, that military level of fastidiousness. Mickey, from County Clare, who has served the longest aboard. Julian, who is very highly regarded by all, but who seems to be harboring some secret. Oh, I should say that I think I have gained a handle on the name of my Korean shipmate, Sokhem Sung.

I hasten to point out how unusual this degree of attention to new recruits is to the merchant marine. This much of the rumors are true: Many trading vessels are unscrupulous, grabbing men drunken from the taverns, dealing with accursed crimps, forcing landsmen to become sailors while already underway. The Starbird has a particular respect among its peers. I should mention that, by chance, I met the ship’s owner, Mr. Holtz, who treated me not as a servant but as a man, very friendly. I keep thanking my luck!

Next week, the new men and I will be given an exam. Our shore school over, we will begin to get our hands dirty, as it were, side by side with the crew. And soon enough, not only will I be assigned to a watch, but also we will set out for our long voyage.

Dear, dear Sophie. You, better than any other, know how deep passion and romance run in my soul. But I must tell you how much my heart leaps towards the horizon. This is the opportunity we have prayed for! Know that I belong to you, not to the sea, even as the world beckons me.

With dedication and affection, always yours…

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