Saturday, August 23, 2008

Walton Photography - HMS Surprise

Ted Walton took some spectacular photographs of our ship during this week's parade into San Diego Bay. He has images with squares set, and some with staysails set. There are several with Pt. Loma creating a dramatic background, and even one with "helmet cam" in the rig.

If you are interested in prints you may contact Ted by phone at 619.448.1083.

Bravo Zulu.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

News Coverage Update

Bert Creighton
MMSD Volunteer Crew

We're receiving some nice coverage from the media. Here's a few recent online articles. Also listed is the video from SignOnSanDiego. They put a helmet camera on me and I went up the Forem'st to give them a flavor of working aloft. Enjoy!

August 20, 2008

Aboard and aloft during the parade of sail
Crewmember Bert Creighton takes our helmetcam
into the rigging as the Maritime Museum's Surprise
ventures forth to join the Parade of Sail Wednesday. 
Video by Jeff Dillon and Anne Maclachla

SignOnSanDiego Photo Page 1
Tall Ships 2008
20 Aug 2008
28 images in this album on 2 pages

Tall ships festival beckons to all who are seaworthy


August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Dreams really can come true.

As I sit here at my computer, reflecting upon my time at the LA FOS on HMS Surprise, I realize that I've had some significant moments, while "just passing time." Moments of getting to know my crewmates better. Being pulled into a newspaper interview by a holder of a Master's Ticket, who also happens to be a red-headed woman. Passing time swapping cooking "tidbits" with a professional chef on the Bounty. Having a few beers with crewmen from the USCG Eagle. Refining my (two trip) technique on trying to provision a ship's galley. Starting to learn another ship's "ropes" and being trusted to DO a new job because I'm not exactly a green hand any more.

And being aloft underway ... Had you asked me if this was even a remote possibility a couple of years ago, I would have laughed myself silly. After all, middle-aged women just don't DO that sort of thing. Do they? The answer is a resounding Hell Yes!!

I used to ask myself, what the next adventure in my life will be. Now, I ask WHEN my next adventure will be! And I'm darned sure that that majority will be with the San Diego Maritime Museum and on it's ships. There's a lifetime of learning there. All it takes is a willingness to learn, get dirty, and be a good shipmate.

Fair Winds and Following Seas ... it's not just a toast; it's a blessing!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pictures of our SD Departure

I am posting a few pictures taken during out departure from San Diego, bound for San Pedro.

As you scroll down you'll see one of our crew demonstrating the correct way to put on a "Gumby Suit" - just like they do on the TV show Deadiest Catch.

More pictures of our trip will be posted soon.

Bert Creighton
MMSD Volunteer Crew

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our Sail Track From San Diego to LA's FOS

Here's an overview of our track, sailing from San Diego to San Pedro for the Los Angeles Festival of Sail.

Brad Holderman
MMSD Volunteer Crew
18 Aug 2008

The festival was over. We had left last night, departing the dock right at 2000. Third watch had managed the Midnight to 3 watch, it meant for an interupted night.  Still, with a full crew, I opted for sleeping on the deck.  I'm claustrophobic and for me it feels too close below in the berths.

After four days, there were still remants of my real life, work day internal clock.  I woke at 0600, to the standing watch prepping to set tops'l and t'gallant stays'ls.  I joined in after a quick shot of coffee.

At some point during the night, we had throttled down, our southbound passage way ahead of schedule.  At this point, we were just north of La Jolla.  Breakfast and more sails.

We set courses, tops'ls, and t'gallant in light winds, cutting the engine.  Racing along at 2.5 knots, Captain Welton called for the main royal which had been lashed below in the exhibit area.

With a full stack on the main, we sailed leisurely for the remainder of the day as the San Diego skyline slowly came into view.  Surprise still has her mysteries for us, refuseing to tack a couple of times.  She wears well and we used that to set us on a course that put us straight into the middle of the channel leading into San Diego Bay.

Just outside the bay, the  Columbian Navy's training ship Gloria was moored, keeping station until the parade of ships on Wednesday.  Its nice to see another large square-rigged vessel joining us at San Diego's festival

We touched the dock before a large crowd, about a  quarter after four.  Leaving the ship finally around 1730, I was soon on the Coaster north back to home.

Full Sail Off Pt Loma

We are under full sail in a light breeze off Pt Loma. The skipper just called hands to furl the Main Royal - yes Virginia, we hoisted the Main Royal!

The crew has finished lunch. The watch is keeping an eye on contacts entering and leaving San Diego Bay.

Last night we headed out off Ssn Pedro with a full, orange moon. I had the 2100 to 2400 watch. My third time at the helm was very improved and I was happy to have only one course excursion of minor note.

The watch is calling out a tall ship ahead and hands on deck are trying to determine which she is.

We have a lot to update you on including many pictures. One quick note - from what I experienced HMS Surprise was the star of the LA FOS show. We had longer lines and guests came almost around the clock to see our ship. I am very proud of our crew for the passion, courtesy and enthusiasm they showed - on deck and ashore.

Time to man lines on the Dog Pound -more soon.


Sent from my iPhone aboard HMS Surprise

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Movie

Saturdy Evening -

The last of our guests left just after 1900 and the movie crew mustered at the waist. We walked up the hill to the San Pedro Brewing Company and got some great burgers, salads and sandwiches. The crew finished quickly and headed up the hill to theater to watch Master and Commander - The Movie. We all watched Al Sorkin and tried to find Pete Sharp, who was an extra in the movie. Pete's 1 second of fame became an topic for some good natured fun.

Ports of Call closes up early so some of us laid to Surprise and talked with guests that continued to walk up after 2300.

Some crew slept onboard again. I am enjoying my dockline mattress and sleeping bag.

More soon


Sent from my iPhone aboard HMS Surprise


Several of us slept on deck under the stars and near the seals. There
is harbor seal that has the loudest voice I have ever heard!

Lori woke up the deck sleeping bag crew around 0300. The low was out
so far that our gangway was at risk of scraping the dock. We us
capstan bars to lift the gsngway, then placed hatch covers under the
wheels, raising the shore slight high enough to clear.

Breakfast - cereal, fresh fruit, danish and bagels.

We open to guests and had a number of them wait over an hour before
our starting time. The FOS helped with dockside guest relations and
they deserve a Bravo Zulu for a job well done.

David C and I headed to the Internation guild of Knot Tiers (I may not
have the name exactly right due to 0300 watches). David introduced me
to Joe - the master at this art. Joe showed us how to make a wire
grommet - twice. I asked if I could buy one and Joe gave it to me. I
bought a round of hot dogs, chips and Cokes for Joe, Mike (new chapter
president) and several others.

David and headed back to the boat. I took watched on the Gun Deck,
then took Tamara's watch in the great cabin so she could work on
Monday's watched

Our ship was filled throughout day and evening. Our guests were SO
enthusiastic and many said they would come to Sxn Diego to visit MMSD.
One will start vomiting from Long Beach to volunteer on our crew!

The success of the day went way beyond my expectations. We have
created a new awareness for our ships, programs and crew in San Diego.
More later. JC

Sent from my iPhone aboard HMS Surprise

Los Angeles FOS

We had a great transit - arriving off of San Pedro with a clear night
sky and an evening lighting spectacular over Palas Verde.

I had the 0300 - 0600 watch and I got my second half hour at the helm.
Is hard to describe the amazing experience at our newly restored
wheel, looking up through the rig to see the stars - and have a
bright meteor come in over our heads.

Tamara was our Captain for 2nd watch and she talked about many
things maritime with us.

Our watch was quiet - even though we spotted many "contacts" entering
and leaving San Pedro and Long Beach

I knew nothing could top my helm experience, but the sea seems to find
a way. With an orange sun rising over the state we were soon able to
see, and hear a pod of dolphin all around us, getting breakfast. We
shared the same area for some time - a special way to end our watch.

I will post another entry after I get some sleep.


Sent from my iPhone aboard HMS Surprise

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Off Loma

We leaving the Bay behind. First watch is set. The voyage begins

Sent from my iPhone aboard HMS Surprise

Aboard Surprise

Bert C
MMSD Volunteer Crew

We're aboard, finishing lunch. The Coast Guard will be aboard soon.
The Capt has given us our watch and berth assignments. The deck is
quiet and we are ready to get under way

More soon...

Sent from my iPhone aboard HMS Surprise

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We sail on tomorrow's tide.

"Run like smoke and oakum!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Notes From The Dog Pound

Bert Creighton
MMSD Volunteer Crew

On the Fore, On the Main, On The Mizzen...

Are your families, friends and co-workers asking you if you are excited about sailing HMS Surprise? AYE is my answer! It's great to see the support everyone has for our voyage north. I can't wait to meet the crews and LA FOS visitors at the end of this week. I am ready to take photographs of sails and sailors to share with everyone. There's been a lot of hours put into our trip preparation and we'll soon throw off our lines and head to sea.

I know some of us have been offshore before, and some have not. I put together a few thoughts to share with you to help make our sailing, meeting other crews and participation in LA's Festival of Sail a success.

LA Festival of Sail (FOS) Crew Reception
Friday, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. August 15, 2008 
Attire - clean blue jeans and museum shirts/crew shirts

Master and Commander Movie
Saturday, August 16, 2008       
8:00 p.m. – “Master & Commander” Movie Showing
Warner Grand Theatre, San Pedro
The Warner Grand Theatre is located at 478 West 6th Street in historic downtown San Pedro.  It is a short walk up 6th Street from the Los Angeles Maritime Museum area. Movie price is $5.
Additional movies are listed here:

LAMI Website

LAMI FOS Website

What To Bring Aboard Surprise
Red flashlights, not white lights (I found one at REI for a reasonable price, bc)
Climbing harness, personal rig (spike, knife, multi-tool...)
Warm gear for the night transit, Dockside clothes (leave the tar behind)
Towel, soap, shampoo (Showers at LA will be about a ½ mile from the ship)
A few personal drinks (no alcohol), snacks
Camera (extra batteries, battery charger)
Cell phone (charger)
Hats, sun screen, sun glasses (cleaner for glasses or contacts)
Ginger gum or candy (good for a rolling sea. I found some at Trader Joe's, bc)
Pins or small items for other crews
Optional items - hardtack, salted cod

We're putting away our maintenance roles for a short time, and taking on the role of MMSD ambassadors. I'll see you all onboard,

“The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea”
Isak Dinesen
pseudonym of Baroness Karen Blixen. Danish Writer (Out of Africa), 1885-1962

Monday, August 11, 2008

Brad Holderman

Brad Holderman
MMSD Volunteer Crew

HMS Surprise - 10 August, 2008.

A day of training and continuing preparation of Surprise for the northward sail to San Pedro for the Los Angeles Sail Festival. First, up training, a most important issue. Old hands from this past November and May are combined with new crew assigned to the ship for the August sails.

I had an odd feeling about me today. A confidence I hadn't felt before. My prior exeriences aloft had been pathetic, my kness to drum rolls the moment my foot would touch the footrope. Today was different though. I had been on Surprise long enough with the same group of people that simply with that, going aloft seemed a reasonable effort. Also, one is limited to what one can learn trapped on the deck. The fact that I've lost 40 plus pounds since the last time I attempted laying aloft didn't hurt.

Without hesitation, I opted for the course yard, but asking at the same time of Greg Carothers that he babysit me while up there. I also went up last, ensuring I would be located close to the shroud, in case my knees hadn't forgotten there old rythym. "STEPPING ON STARBOARD!" With an acknoldgment by the other topmen, the new footropes seemed sturdy beneath my feet. With the other pluses mentioned previously, the knees weren't knocking. I felt more comfortable aloft than I had ever felt as we put the mains'l in her gear, asking questions all along the way.

During the training, the crew bumbled about slightly, as you might expect, re learning and re grouping. But it wasnt very long and we had remembered our steps along the process. For me, I had had a good day of training until the moment Captain Welton gave the order to clew up the t'gallant. I was on the sheet, made the dreadful error on the sequence of events and proceeded to ease the port t'gallant sheet. "WHO LET GO OF THAT SHEET?!" Ugh, me, your mainmast port pinrail captain. I quickly hauled it back down and got in sync with things, refocused on what I was doing.

With sails doused, back aloft to furl. Again, comfortable.

With the training for the morning finished up, it was now time to start hammering out as much repair and refit still left to do. I found myself with David Litzau and Bert Creighton on the prow, creating a game plan for relashing the starboard boomkin. The boomkin had been broken a month prior. By the time we had figured something out, lunch was called. For me, my children were on their way down, my day of volunteering was at an end.

As I left, Scott Herndon was out on the now-lashed boomkin, re-rigging the block and stays. The remainder of this week at home will be spent making sure I have everything I need for 5 days aboard Surprise. Economics, logistics and the plain and simple desire to live 5 complete days aboard ship have HMS Surpise as my home address from August 14th to the 18th.


Brad Holderman

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Aimee Is Ready for FOS L.A.

Aimee Kay

MMSD Volunteer Crew

Two Festival of Sails!

I can't believe that I'm sailing in two "away" Festival of Sails!  First, I got to go on Californian to sail in San Francisco and NOW I get to go with Surprise to Los Angeles!  I am beyond stoked.
I'm new to Surprise and am learning my position on the Foremast. Some of it is very familiar, but there are some Surprising (sorry for the pun) differences.  One of the big ones is that I get to climb to the Course Yard to furl and un-furl as well as helping to rig when needed.  This is completely different than being on a jib boom and WAAAAY cool!  The view is amazing, but I am eagerly and nervously awaiting doing this at sea.  Thank goodness for the time spent at the gym on the Stairmaster; it is a loong haul up to the yard.  The people going up to the Top and the Topgallant have even a longer climb and descent. 
Every day is a new adventure and I am really looking forward to being underway on Thursday.  The difference in sizes between the two ships is also amazing.  There is so much room that I feel like I'm checking into a luxury hotel!
Hope to see you all in LA!  I'll be the tall red-head with the ear-to-ear grin!

Anticipation, Excitement and Sweat

Bert Creighton
MMSD Volunteer Crew
10 August 2008

The sun was out early this morning. Mr. Burgess called muster on the Star of India, then quickly sent the Surprise Crew to our ship. Captain Welton held a quick muster and ran down the list of completed projects and told us about the tasks that remain before we sail Thursday. Mr. Durdaller (Ships Ops) was aboard to go over our trip to LA and our time in port there.

We headed to our masts and soon had our first command to get our sails in their gear. I headed aloft with my Forem'st crew, heading to Port on the Fore Yard with Mark Hatay. We got our squares in their gear while other crew got the heads'ls ready.

Mark aloft.

Mainm'st Crew.

Lines manned and ready!

Back on deck we began setting sails in sequence, keeping the wind's pressure fore and aft balanced. Bracing drills followed, and we were aloft again furling everything. After being aloft on the Fore I headed out the Jibboom to get some more experience furling heads'ls. This was only my second time on the "pointy end" - but I am quickly getting the routine down.

Several of us worked to bend on the boomkin, a short spar that extends from the bow, used to extend the clew (lower corner) of the foresail to windward. Here's a quote from Master and Commander:

 "These boomkin knottings, Jack: just where may they be?"

I talked with many of my friends onboard and our crew is excited about our voyage. This is where we put the old ways to work - where ship and crew come together - and where we add salt water and wind. We will be sailing under an August moon with the Perseid meteor shower above our T'gallants. Soon it will be time to stow our gear, cast off and sail north to join the fleet of tall ships off of San Pedro. How grand!

From Our Starboard Fore Pinrail Capt.

Joe Radwanski
MMSD Volunteer Crew
As the departure date for the HMS Surprise sail to Los Angeles   approaches my anticipation increases. My crewmates, I am sure, are   feeling the same. To many, an offshore transit is a welcome respit   from our busy  lives. I welcome this diversion. All of us at the   Maritime Museum have worked hard for this. It is just wonderful that,   after all this time, our ship is entering another chapter of it's   life. And I am pleased to be a part of it. 
It's nice to see we will have a near full moon to sail under. How   delightful. I feel a certain amount of excitment about this gathering   of tallships in LA. It is always a sight to behold and now we can   participate. It is interesting to meet the crews of the other ships as   they each have their own distinct charachter. No doubt everyone will   have a good time and there will be the usual hijinks I'm sure.
Then we get to do it all over again right here at home in San Diego.   I'm also looking forward to this parade sail as my son Kyle will be   able to join me as a junior crew member. We joined the volunteer crew   together and we are both very happy to be sailing together at last.   The whole family will be at the Maritime Museum helping with the FOS   over the weekend. It should be lots of fun. San Diego Bay is a great   place for this and the weather should be perfect as usual. 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Surprise Prepares For Los Angeles Festival of Sail!

Bert Creighton
MMSD Volunteer

In the coming days you'll get to meet many of us through this blog as we report our experiences aboard a movie star, HMS Surprise. You'll get to know a little about our volunteers that come from all walks of life, to form a crew that loves tall ships - and is fortunate to sail them. Perhaps you'll catch the bug and come join us as we continue "the great age of sail."

The crew list for our upcoming Surprise voyages was published last Thursday. HMS Surprise will sail three legs in the next few weeks. First up is the San Diego to Los Angeles (San Pedro) leg, where we'll take part in the Los Angeles Festival of Sail. The second leg is a transit from Los Angeles back to San Diego. Once back in our home port we'll get the ship ready to head out to San Diego's Buoy 1, just offshore from Coronado and Pt. Loma, where we will rendezvous with the other tall ships taking part in San Diego's Festival of Sail (FOS as we call it) and we'll parade into San Diego, one after another. This will kick off the largest event ever held on San Diego Bay, a "don't miss event."

Earning A Sail Crew Position

I was excited to see my name on the 1st leg and 2nd leg roster for several reasons. I worked in West Los Angeles for the past five years (VP of Marketing) and I have friends, relatives and co-workers that have all heard me talk about our wonderful Museum and maintaining and sailing our ships - and now they can come see us, or should I say we're going north to see them! Beyond seeing everyone onboard Surprise there is the purely romantic notion of going to sea on a tall ship (OK, even if it is for only 5 days). I know my crew mates share thoughts of sailing on a ship made famous by Russell Crowe and the movie Master and Commander.

I remember seeing Master and Commander with my wife. I felt like I was taken back to the Napoleonic battles, the transoceanic sailing, the resourcefulness of the crew, and life aboard the 6th Rate Frigate. The movie's soundtrack also was enthralling. Do you remember the film's credentials?

Winner: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing

Nominee: Best Picture, Best Director (Peter Weir), Best Art Direction--Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Visual Effects

After seeing the movie, being able to be one of the first crew to start maintenance work on Surprise two years ago was an honor. My first tasks in 2006 were learning how to "rattle down" - spicing the ratlines onto the shrouds after we first cut away the old ones. Fast forward to today - much rigging, painting, installation of new safety systems and much more have been completed. Our ship's spirit is renewed after her movie sabbatical. Commands are being called out again, the deck and rigging are busy with hands preparing to leave San Diego.

Coming Together As A Crew

Today we "sailed at the dock." Captain Welton first assigned us to our masts and talked to us before we went to muster with our mast captains. I was assigned to the Forem'st under Mr. Herndon. I was on the Star of India's Forem'ast crew last November, so this was a mast assignment on Surprise I was pleased with (though you could put me on any mast and I'd be as happy as a clam at high tide).

Welcome to the Dog Pound!

Mr. Herndon assigned me to the top crew (woo hoo!) and to the "dog pound" - the crew that mans the Dog Rail (near the cat heads, below the ratlines). Dog, cat, rat - I wonder if Noah came up with these names on the Ark?

Soon the Captain's orders were heard and the mast captains began translating them into the many actions we must execute. The climbers laid aloft and put all sails into their gear. This was the first of many evolutions we'll go through as a crew over the coming weeks, putting sails into their gear, manning the braces, furling and hosting guests aboard Surprise. 

Foremast Crew is "making up gaskets" after putting sails into their gear.

Surprise's Mains'l in it's gear, the Main Tops'l set.

We continued training until the noon meal was served aboard the Star of India - stew, rolls, "bug juice" and birthday cake to celebrate the 50th birthday of Yankee (that's another story).

We had a final muster with the Captain then put a good harbor furl on our sails. There was a lot of discussion among the crew about our upcoming adventures aboard Surprise. Some talked of the items they will bring aboard, and others talked about the meals and the weather. I can picture these same discussions aboard tall ships since they first began their oceanic travels.

Our modern lives will soon be put aside for a little while and we'll be focused on sailing Surprise north to join crews from other cities, states and countries. Surprise will be our time machine, joining us with the crews that sailed before us. Wind and tide will carry us off and we'll post more to our blog soon - bc.