Day 185 - Alchibah
I kept waiting for Ugli to make a break but as time went on it seemed less and less likely. He had put on another twenty five pounds in the last three months and it seemed to me that the rate of growth was slowing. At just under ninety pounds he was losing the chunky bulky look and taking on a sleeker, muscular appearance.
He was chameleon like in that his coloration mimicked his surroundings and blending in so well that when still he was almost invisible. His claws and teeth, strength and speed, made him seem a threat that made most of the colonist very uncomfortable.
It didn’t help to allay people’s mistrust that the new puppies either snarled at him or ran in fear whenever he was around. Except for that first time when we adopted him Ugli, as formidable as his natural weapons were, had never drawn blood from a human again. He did do a lot of staring and hissing when approached by strangers though. And now that he was a bit older he wasn’t what anyone could call playful either.
Ugli staked out an area around our house that he patrolled on a regular basis in the morning and evening and did most of his sleeping during the day. He hunted on his own at night and as a consequence we saw few small animals close to the house.
Judith Reye and a few of the other busybodies tried to get the council to ban him from the township area and almost succeeded. Janie went so far as to dip her hand and arm into a bucket of meat scraps and blood and then place chunks directly into his mouth and then let people count the fingers still attached. We did agree to keep him out of Liberty City proper.
He caught on to the sound of his name early on and we taught him the meaning of the word no. But I am making him seem more sinister than he is or was. Though not playful he could be very affectionate. He had imprinted first on Janie and then to Mike Reye Laura Seaworth and then me.
When Laura or Mike would come around Ugli would stop whatever he was doing and lope to them and rub himself against them. He would hiss even at people he knew but it was a totally different sound from the kind he issued as a warning to strangers.
I’m not sure; in fact I rather suspected he didn’t know the difference between robots and humans. He seemed to get as much enjoyment from being around the Jeep and EmyCee as he did from me—but Janie always was first on his list.
Sinopa and Ugli hit it off from the get go. She understood him from the start and when he went on his nocturnal hunts if none of his immediate family was around and she was in the area; that’s where he would be found.
Ugli was curled up and ready, forward on the deck just behind the jib boom, and all of the guest were aboard when the Jeep said.
“You want me to do what Boss?”
“Jeep, haven’t we had this conversation before?” I said in exasperation. “I want you and EmyCee, Bligh and Fletcher to go below and be ready to start cranking to take us from the dock when I give the word. And don’t even bring up the words ‘galley slaves’ again…Ever! As soon as we are safely into the river I‘ll have you all back on deck hauling at the sails and such. You‘ll learn to love it.”
Karl had pulled the Schooner Bluenose from the building shed a week before and gotten her into the water and tied to the dock. We next loaded the masts on deck and towed her over to the foot of the north face of Janie’s Point where a boom was in place to raise them to vertical and lower them through the holes in the boards and set them into the keel. With that done it was back to the dock for the rest of the rigging and fitting.
This wasn’t our first time out. Janie christened her when she went into the water and we spent three or four hours afloat on each of the previous three days with Karl watching everything. I had sailed a bit back on Earth, on Lake Superior near home, nothing larger than 35 feet though and with 65 ft at the waterline I was not too proud to ask for help.
Karl was an ocean going yachtsman and racer and that was what got him into the boatbuilding business here in the first place. I might be the owner but he was the sailing master and likely to be so for some time. As a matter of fact that was one of the conditions he made when I asked him to build her and I never regretted agreeing.
Karl knew the ins and outs of every kind of sailing ship ever made and he asked me why I insisted on a two masted schooner for my first outing. I told him first because they were so damn pretty. Beyond that even though I hadn’t spent as much time on the water as I would have liked; I had read a lot about the lore of the sea and development of sail.
One thing stuck, and that was that schooners had three important things going for them. One they were weatherly, two they were fast, and three they took a small crew for the size of the vessel. The old rule of thumb was one sailor per mast.
“I read once that Zane Grey, the ‘Western’ writer, once owned his own 200 foot sailing ship that he used for sport fishing in the south pacific. On a planet like this that could be pretty close to heaven.
With something like the Bluenose though I can use it for short cruises and picnics and be sure of always having someone willing to come along and share the work. And If I needed to do it she ought to have the potential to sail round the planet and get back safely.”
“Good enough for me Bart, I was sold from the time you walked in the door. But I am going to make sure you can sail her safely before you go out by yourself or I won’t build her.”
“Suits me just fine Karl.”
“So let me talk about the deck plan, try and stop me, heh..heh.” I got that laugh from Histy.
The basics: 80 tons - 65 ft waterline - 7 ft draft - 15 ft beam - 78 ft main deck - 5 ft freeboard - 70 ft to top of main mast. She was actually about a 2/3 size replica of the Canadian Bluenose that was the fastest thing going in the early 1900’s but so many changes were made that only the name remained the same. With a really good wind I was hoping to make 10 or 11 knots. The Spanish Galleons sailed the entire Earth at 3 to 5. This was all dream stuff and because I could. But anyway, today we were having a party.
We were away from the dock and out in the middle of the river. I called the bots from below to help in putting on some sail. Karl had built in a cranked prop that 4 bots in burst mode could give the equivalent of 12 horse power. That was very good for maneuvering in light or contrary winds.
We could make almost 3 knots under bot power alone. For today we would put up the sails and scoon along we would work on more sail and more speed when I couldn‘t embarrass myself in front of the rest of the colony. I gave the sailing commands—with Karl ready to correct at any time. I could go on and on but Laura shot the video so feel free to download.
Sabbu had lashed together a crude sonar system that gave us good enough depth measurements and tantalizing returns when we were in deep water indicating the presence of the very large sea things that we had not yet seen.
And just in case you think this entry is long, off target, and not to the point, download the file Rajnar put up about making the sails. What I am trying to say here is that most of what we did was just in the nature of trying to muddle thorough and enjoy life as best we could.