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Schooner photo fosters fever

By Debra Dobbins

On yet another scorcher in Grand Junction, seeing the photo of a schooner makes me want to hop the first plane outta here and head to either coast.

In my imagination I can smell the salt water, feel the cool wind and regain my sea legs as I gaze up at the billowing sails of an elegant vessel. To make matters worse, officemate Penny Stine is talking about taking a motorcycle trip along the coast of the Adriatic Sea next summer, heading all the way to the stunning port city of Dubrovnik. It’s enough to make me want to cash in some of my retirement funds to “go down to the seas again,” as English poet John Masefeld puts it in the poem below.

The reality is, though, that I am here in landlocked Colorado. I need to remember that cooler weather just requires a short trip to higher elevations and to reassure myself that ocean breezes lie somewhere in my future.

I‘ll also try to assuage my sea fever by turning my mind to words such as schooner and windjammer.

The word schooner is an Americanism that may have come from the Scottish word scun, according to Webster’s. It meant to skip a flat stone across water. Schooner seems a perfect, whimsical way to describe a vessel that uses the power of the wind to skim across water, just as a flat stone does.

Another Americanism is the word windjammer. According to Webster’s, it describes a sailing ship, usually a large one. Webster’s adds that the term was originally contemptuous, used by seamen of early steamships. Thank the stars that progress did not entirely prevail in this aspect of nautical history, because the sight of a schooner communing with the high seas is truly one to behold.

Masefield’s poem “Sea-Fever” complements the nicely composed photo on page 7A. (When Masefeld refers to a trick in his final line, he means a duty or shift, such as standing watch at ship’s helm, according to allpoetry.com.)

The Herzogin Cecilie was named in honor of German Crown Princess Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886–1954).
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

John Masefeld was poet laureate of the United Kingdom for 37 years.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia



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