Christmas Channel

By lunchtime on December 23rd—our last day of work before the holidays—I was convinced that I’d cursed us all. “Remember how I wrote that we’d get the channel off today?” I said to Amy, my fellow apprentice carpenter. We’d spend the morning trying, and failing, to pull fasteners from the starboard fore channel.  “I shouldn’t have said anything. It was bad luck.”

“No, we’ve got this,” Amy insisted. Even she sounded skeptical; at that point, we’d been working for almost three hours without any noticeable progress. The fasteners refused to budge. If things continued at this rate, we’d be lucky to get even one fastener pulled before the end of the day, much less get the entire channel off.

But Amy was right. By some Christmas miracle, before the end of the workday, all of the fasteners were out and the channel was balanced on the forks of our sturdy little Clark forklift. Amy and I watched with baited breath while Adam, the ship’s carpenter, backed the forklift away from the ship…and the channel pulled smoothly away from the hull. It was surreal to see such a fundamental piece of the ship taken apart, even though we’d spent the last several days working hard to make it happen.

But as we carefully transferred the channel from the forklift to a table in the workshop, my foremost thought was: well, at least I didn’t curse us.

(This is our first week back from the holiday break, and now that the channel is off, our next big project is to get the fighting top off the foremast. I won’t make any predictions about how long it’s going to take, though—just in case.)

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