Star of India Companion Sail Photos!
The Star of India Companion Sail on November 17th and 18th was truly a historical celebration. The passengers and crew of the Yacht America were honored to escort the world’s oldest active sailing ship originally built in 1863. This wonderful occasion was the first time the Star of India sailed in five years. Since the Star of India does not have a propeller, the morning started off with two tug boats gently towing the Star of India from the San Diego Maritime Museum.
Once off the dock, the tug boats towed the Star of India into the channel of the San Diego Bay. The channel is the deepest part of the bay, so it was important to keep her well within the channel. While in the calm waters of the bay, the crew started to climb the rigging.
Who are the brave souls that climb the ratlines to the top of the Star of India? Dedicated volunteers spend countless hours at the San Diego Maritime Museum, making this historical occasion possible. For five years, each and every volunteer has been practicing for this moment to climb the rigging all the way to top. The ship is much more stable when it is docked, so climbing to the top of the mast while the ship is moving is a completely different story. We watched as the Star of India rolled with the occasional wake. At the top of the mast, 127 ft from the deck, that roll could really effect your ability to maneuver. This job was certainly not for the faint of heart.
Once the crew climbed out on the yard using foot ropes, they began the task at hand. They had to prepare the sails and lower them in a coordinated fashion by following commands. Like many jobs on a boat, this truly requires teamwork and communication.
We watched as a command was given and all the sails dropped in perfect unison. The Star of India was going to sail for the first time in five years, and we were going to see it! The tug boat was still pulling the Star of India out to sea, we were passing Point Loma by this time. Everyone was so excited, both crew and passengers, to see the Star of India in her element: sailing out in the open ocean. We were especially curious to see how she would sail. The weather was calm, but the winds were relatively light. With an iron hull, she is extremely heavy. How would she sail with such light winds?
That question was soon answered once the Star of India and her companion ships were out at sea. The tug dropped his tow, and the Star of India continued her momentum forward. The wind caught her sails and she majestically glided through the water.
We watched in awe as the Star of India sailed extremely efficiently in such light winds, clocking in at 5 knots. We even watched her successfully tack a few times on Sunday! All in all, it was truly a success.
What an honor it was to sail with the Star of India, as well as the Californian and the San Salvador!
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