Sunday, August 29, 2010

The best day in the Monomoy so far - hands down

Appologies for not writing this yesterday as I had intended (and told several people I would) but things happen and I was busy.

Yesterday we mustered about 35 Sea Cadets of the Tophatters Squadron, based at Naval Station Norfolk, at the MWR marina there. Dividing into four crews, the cadets participated in several seamanship training sessions that were led by PO Bryan and myself. The former spent most of the day on the coxswain's platform, while I spent most of the day as bow hook.

In the morning, we started with basic training under oars. Getting underway from the marina, we practiced rowing and basic maneuvers for about forty five minutes with each group, before returning to shore to swap out for the next. Those groups not in the boat either waited with the Tophatters' staff or took a ride in an 11 meter RHIB.

After lunch we began intermediate level training. This consisted of landing on and getting underway from a beach (near Vista Point) and recovering a man overboard (in choppy Willoughby Bay). Due to the steep learning curve, not every group got to do both, and one didn't make it past the introductory level, but all seemed to have a good time. The best group completed all of this, and as an added test were challenged with maneuvering the boat to pick up TWO men in the water - the coxswain and bow hook who both jumped overboard and let the confused Sea Cadets figure things out. They did remarkably well, and as a reward, we anchored and gave them all a swim call over the side to cool off.

Special thanks and accolades to Petty Officer Bryan, who did remarkably well for his first time on the platform, and led the crew through each of the above evolutions without incident. BZ!


The event yesterday got me very excited about heading out to Hyco Lake on Sept 18. We have been debating the operational and material risks involved with capsizing and righting the Monomoy at that event, and things are looking like we might go for it. At that event we will have a group of Boy Scouts present, who I hope will be as motivated as our recent crews of Sea Cadets.

One thing I should note about all of this is that our excitement and fascination with the Monomoy Pulling Boat and all her unique characteristics is nothing new. At the turn of teh 20th century, Thomas Edison used his new motion picture cameras to record a capsize and righting of a "life boat", and also to film a Monomoy returning from sea to a beach through a breaking surf. I've also read about "field days" when these boats were taken out to beaches to demonstrate these maneuvers, much to the enjoyment of crowds of spectators.
More to follow on this, next week.


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