July 16, 2019 4 min read
The Wooden Boat Show was in Mystic last month, so much knotty activity! The town was full of boat builders and boats, wooden boat enthusiasts and sailors ready to share their knowledge and have some fun too. Jill and Matt had the pleasure of meeting Angela Wilt the Chief Mate on the Schooner Lynx and she agreed to do an impromptu interview.
In 1997 she was built by Woodson K. Woods after the original historic tall ship - The Privateer Lynx, a Baltimore Clipper schooner, from the War of 1812. Woodson, a life-long sailor and serious maritime historian, realizes his goal creating a living history museum to educate children and adults alike about American history through active sail training aboard a real wooden sailing ship. She is 78 feet overall, beam 23 feet and a draft of 8.5 feet. She carries 7-8 crew members and up to 12 crew for longer passages.
Of note the Lynx is armed with a functioning main battery of four six-pounder carronades and four swivel guns. In addition, a complementary stand of historic small arms, some from Woodson's own collection, for demonstration and instructional purposes, is aboard, including muskets, pistols, cutlasses, boarding pikes and axes.
We have been based out of Nantucket for 8 years. Egan Maritime Institute in Nantucket is our partner in education. They reach out to students offering our on-board educational programs.
We are a non profit experiential educational platform exposing the students to new perspectives and options in maritime careers. Draw them out of their comfort zone, get off island, you know leave the phone on your bunk. This really opens them up to the world around them.
We mainly travel up and down the New England coast. When we are not here, usually in the winter months, we travel down the Atlantic coast, Annapolis, the Chesapeake & Delaware, wintering in Florida and Georgia. During our shorter stays, instead of offering the week long programs, we offer a lot of 2 hour day sail programs. Our programs include lots of history, Life On A Boat, Setting Sails, The War of 1812, Navigation, Biology, Sail Physics and Coastal Exploration.
Southern Maryland is where I grew up, in a farmer family, on the Chesapeake Bay. My grandfather was also a water man, oystering and crabbing. I started sailing at age 16 when I volunteered on the Dove, sailing on her summers during my college years. After college I visited Maine and signed aboard the Windjammer American Eagle out of Rockland. That season I fell in love with being on boats, the tall ship sailing heritage and sharing this lifestyle with other people.
Then I sailed on Lake Michigan for a while. Found out I liked salt water sailing better. The wave action is better and the weather is more predictable. Sailed on a couple other boats then found the Lynx and have been on her for 4 years.
Mostly accumulated sea time, time on-board and a 2 week sea school. You log your time on-board each boat, have the captain sign the sea time form. Each license requires a certain amount of sea time.
She was built in Maine then immediately traveled to the west coast with 3-4 trips to Hawaii. They did some cruising up and down the west coast of California as well. She then came back to the east and did some sailing up and down the east coast with a trip to Cuba and Canada.
What I like most is how much the crew becomes family. Being on the boat, it’s not just work, it’s where you live, hang out, it’s constantly changing. It's people that you work with, but at the end of the day you go out for a drink with too, everyone becomes your family. In the world of working on tall ships it is recommended occasionally to leave your current boat and work on another to get more knowledge. The crew come and go, there is a lot of saying goodbye!
The biggest challenge would be finding your personal space. We live in close quarters so you really need to find your happy place on or off the boat. Everyone needs their private time. What makes this more important is we are on-board about 350 days a year. In addition there is really no time for vacations, hah, they are few and far between!
I do have my own cabin with a door. Others have bunks in a community type space some with curtains, some not. As crew members move off the boat others can move up to more desirable bunks. Somehow everything you need has to be kept in your space. I also have a small knot tying business and am constantly struggling to fit everything in my cabin!
Having an openness and a willingness to learn, despite what you think you already know. Every boat is different, different set of knowledge. If you are of an open mind set and share what you have you are a valuable member of the crew!
Tall ship sailing encourages crew members to go away and sail on other ships with different captains and on-board procedures. Sharing all this different knowledge is what makes a good sailor.
Well, one was a knot tying technique. When tying the mousing on a shackle I usually do it around then cinch it. On one boat I was corrected, first do your figure eight then the frapping turns. So now I know two techniques!
Thank you Angela! We can all dream about sailing away on the Lynx. There is so much more history on the Schooner Lynx, learn more on their site and follow along as they travel.