Friday, August 14, 2009

The Lesser of Two Weevils

As promised, I have a Surprise for you -- a very literal, very big, and very salty Surprise.

My mom and sister had an opportunity to see the Broadway show "Wicked" while in San Diego. My dad and I, on the other hand, chose the "lesser of two weevils" by visiting the San Diego Maritime Museum. I don't know why I love ships so much, but they absolutely fascinate me! Especially sailing ships. I love books and movies that involve the British navy in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of those movies happens to be "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World." (Only M&C fans will understand the "weevils" bit... *wink*) On display at the Maritime Museum is the HMS Surprise, the ship used in "Master and Commander!" And oh, is she ever lovely! (I borrowed my sister's lovely Nikon D40 and had a little too much fun, so please excuse the bevy of pictures!)

Can't you just envision Captain Jack Aubrey perched in the rigging?

I did man the helm for a few moments:

Below decks, they had an array of M&C props and costumes, including some for my favorite character, little midshipman Blakeney:

~ The Star of India

This lovely vessel is the oldest ship in the world to maintain a regular sailing schedule. It's the prize of the Museum's collection, and with good reason!

It's an alien! Oh, no -- just dad's reflection in the binnacle!

The captain:

~ Russian B-39 Submarine

It was quite thrilling to go inside a real Soviet sub! Talk about cramped quarters -- claustrophobic little me would never last long in a submarine. The accomodations were primitve and certainly not designed for comfort!

Outside the sub was a display warning visitors that they would have to crawl through four circular hatches inside the sub -- complete with a hole in the display the size of one of the hatches! I managed all four in a skirt! *wink*

~ Steamship Berkeley

The main museum is housed on the old Berkeley, a former San Francisco ferry. The lower deck now features many exhibits, while the upper deck still retains the original seating. It was gorgeous! Wooden seats, gorgeous woodwork, and stained glass all 'round the top.

~ The Medea

The Medea is a small pleasure yacht built by a Scot in the early 20th century. It saw service in both world wars before it was restored and brought to the museum. I can't even imagine having a pleasure yacht! She was quite a lovely little thing, and inside all was comfort and luxury:

~ The USS Dolphin

There was another sub on display, this one an American research sub called "The Dolphin." Much more comfortable than the Soviet sub! Its official depth record is still classified, but it has gone to depths of over 3,000 feet. Dad took a look through the periscope:

And surprisingly, even a camera can capture the view:

And last, but not least, while touring The Medea we caught a glimpse of the yacht "Stars and Stripes," former champion of the America's Cup Race! I didn't even notice the flag beside me while I took a snapshot of the yacht's name -- ironic!

I may be a "landlubber," but that doesn't mean I don't feel the call of the sea, or love the creaking of rigging and the sway of a boat under my feet. There's something magical about old sailing ships. Have danger and romance ever been so completely combined? Perhaps John Masefield put in best in his poem, "Sea Fever:"

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.


  1. As a long time fan of Patrick O'Brian and the daughter of one of his biggest fans, I have to say I'm insanely jealous! And also very grateful that you let us experience a little of it through the pictures.

    I love "the lesser of two weevils" tidbit. My favourite moment from the series so far, though, is when Jack takes off his hat when he encounters some acquaintances in the street and his wig comes off, too. :D I'm only up to Book #5, though... I've been saving them for free reading time when I'm at college.

  2. How lovely....
    enjoyed all of the pics!

    Blessings~ Jen

    Do stop by "Blessed Femina"
    and enter for some fabulous music!

  3. How neat! I love Master and Commander!

  4. Ah, ships! How fascinating they are!

    Our family got the lovely opportunity to tour a replica of the Nina when it was in the area last year. What an awe-inspiring experience!

  5. My Dad was a Navy man and has always loved ships(also esp. sailing ships) and I too have always loved them!

    Those were some beauties for sure!

  6. i watch the movie M&C all the time with my brothers;it is by far one of my favorite adventure movies ... i especially love the quote!!

  7. Those are beautiful ships! I adore seeing all of the pictures you post! You have such wonderful photography skills!

  8. I believe I read that Russell Crowe is in negotiations to film another book in the Jack Aubrey series.

  9. Oh aren't you lucky!!! I've never watched Master & Commander but I am writing a book in which ships play a big part and have been trying to study the ins and outs of them. :-)

  10. I am fascinated by the romance and danger of ships as well! I've been eying M&C lately, but this convinced me...i'll definitely pick it up! :)

  11. Aww, this brings such a wave of nostalgia for me! (pun half-intended ;) ) My family and I went to that exact spot, and have pictures from the 'Surprise', the 'Star of India', and the Russian sub.

    Lovely pictures! Mmmm.... I can just feel the delicious, fresh salt sea air!

  12. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!


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