*Disclaimer: Many boring words
**Disclaimer: Names may have been changed to protect the guilty
So I went racing
on a boat that was owned by a fellow named Glenn. Glenn is the consummate gentleman. He handled his boat in an orderly fashion and all the crew aboard were fun to sail with, and understanding that I wasn't used to racing
. However, they still involved me and I learned a lot. No real yelling. And then back to the yacht club for drinks, which he graciously bought for me and Dani.
The sailing was good. The crew was good. There was a crewman aboard who also owned a boat and was looking for crew for his boat. Glenn was going to man the committee boat for a few weeks so no more going out with them. So I volunteered to crew with this other fellow.
So the next week I call and he tells me that his partner/co-owner would be taking out the boat and I was welcome to join, but he had a medical emergency
and wouldn't be going out. Okay, cool, no problem right? I've sailed with people I didn't know before and it wasn't so bad.
So I show up at the boat on time and meet another guy there. This fellow, lets call him Greenhorn, had never been sailing before ever. He was just a friend of the skipper
. We chat and he is a nice guy. Air Force guy.
arrives to the boat late. Lets call him Captain
A-D-D. He is shuffling down the peer huffing as he comes. His look is that of a man in disarray. His glasses here swinging back and forth after taking a dive off of the end of his nose. They are those glasses you see in late night TV infomercials with amber colored lenses and thick plastic frames. "EAGLE EYES" where people pretend to have better than 20/20 vision when they put them on. Short and bear like, sporting a beard, he greets Greenhorn and I in a nasally voice before unlocking the boat and proceeding to go below and literally throw some stuff around, though he never emerged with anything and never actually secured anything that I could tell. I ask if I can help and he doesn't seem to think so.
About this time another experienced crew shows up. Lets call him XPCrew. He has been racing quite a while and owns his own boat. An older, calm fellow.
So CaptainADD greets him then decides its time to crank the outboard
to "let it warm up." He pulls the cord and she fires up. Only thing is that he leaves it at 3/4 throttle after taking off the choke. I mean this thing is hanging off the back of the boat buzzing like mad on cold oil
. I was cringing and biting my tongue hoping that too much damage wasn't being done. Would we have to duck a piston missle? Oh well.
CaptainADD shouts over the raging outboard noise
that we should hoist the main sail. "But CaptainADD.... We're in the slip...." No matter, he wanted it up. Greenhorn already has the winch
handle eager to obey despite choking on the noxious fumes that the outboard is spewing at us. I dutifully man the winch
as the CaptainADD feeds the bolt rope
into the mast
track. "Go ahead and crank it up hard." So I start spinning and when I hit the end of the mast
track the block at the base of the mast literally explodes. I'm not kidding, a screw hit Greenhorn in the head
. "Oh F*ck!"
CaptainADD does a sort of angry dance on the cabin
top, which I note flexes under his portly jig. At this point he appears to be frothing in anxiety and rage. But he recovers by adjusting his "eagle eyes" and then saying, "Its okay. Good enough to race
." I go up and look at it. The block is still technically there but its held to the deck
by only 1 bent screw. Not a bolt. A screw. And to make matters worse, the metal is all twisted and bent up. I can see the rotten deck
through the now vacant screw holes.
I secretly back some of the tension off the main halyard
while CaptainADD is untying dock
lines. XPCrew sees me do it and gives a little discrete nod of approval.
So then its time to depart the slip. With the main fully raised. CaptainADD asks if I know how to "drive" with a tiller. "Sure skipper." Well he jumps onto the back of the boat where the outboard is still furiously buzzing its way to a premature death. Without backing off the throttle, he slams it into reverse. The thing made a thunk, shudder, and screech so loud I jumped. Then the boat begins to rocket backwards at high speed. As the bow starts to clear the slip I slam the tiller over to turn into the fair way and also to slow the boat down using the rudder
as a brake. Big mistake apparently.
CaptainADD howls in anger! "You're stopping the boat! You're stopping the boat!" And runs forward yelling at XPCrew to man the outboard while he'll deal with the tiller. Admonished for my poor "driving", I apologize for stiffling his jet engine
exit of the slip and move aside to observe instead. Perhaps he knows some secret of high speed departure. XPCrew gets to the motor
quickly, slows down the throttle, and puts it in neutral. With the main up the boat is drifting. Drifting towards the expensive yachts nearby.
I grab greenhorn and we run forward to fend off, which becomes almost immediately necessary. CaptainADD is shouting at XPCrew and vacillating between "FORWARD FORWARD REVERSE REVERSE" in his high pitched fury. So after about 10 (and I'm not kidding) transmission
shifts from forward to reverse and back again, we are able to actually point out of the fairway. I imagine it looked a lot like the Austin Powers movie
where he got the golf cart stuck in the hall way. Anyway, the only way we actually got going was that I fended us off a post very hard to swing the bow around and point in the right direction. Who needs a tiller?
Underway and heading out... CaptainADD asks Greenhorn to go below and start turning on and off things. Apparently every switch must be on except the stereo. Greenhorn is looking a little green in the gills down below. Its rough on the lake and he is being tossed around a lot down there.
He comes out and asks me if I've been messing with gasoline today. "What?" Oh yeah, he thinks I must have it on me. Tells me he smells it on me. "No dude, sorry, I only play with diesel
, not gas." So we sniff around. His suede shoes are soaked in gasoline. Hmm. I drop below and look around. Gas spill in the cabin
. Nice. Thank God no one is smoking. CaptainADD doesn't seem to care so much though. "Oh just ignore that. I'll clean it up later." Later never seemed to come.
We make it out to the lake and get ready with the racers. Race
starts are chaotic under the usual circumstances, with CaptainADD, its a veritable hell. He produces two, not one, but two stop watches and gives them BOTH to Greenhorn and asks him to start timing so he can get to the start line at exactly the right time. He is a scientist and knows exactly what to do. He has careful instructions for both watches but the purpose of the second one was never clear and he literally never asked for a reading from it. We also never actually caught the horns that announce the intervals for the race heats to start. And it was just too much for CaptainADD to sail near to the committee boat so we could hear or see the flags
that announce the starts.
As we're tacking around getting ready, he is shouting at any boat he dares near us, "STARBOARD, STARBOARD, or PORT PORT" so they KNOW who has the right of way. I'm thinking this is a bit goofy, but it got really bad when he turned to XPCrew and asks... "What tack are we on now?" I'm serious. I almost jumped overboard
to swim to shore at this point. I would have made it too, had my PFD
on. The only one aboard with one on. I had brought my own.
So we finally get going towards the start line. XPCrew and CaptainADD fight about when the start is. As it turns out, we totally miss our start and disqualify ourselves. I'm serious. We were disqualified from the start. CaptainADD decides to race around the buoys anyway. Fine.
XPCrew trims the jib
. One of the blocks breaks. At least this time it wasn't a nuclear shrapnel bomb explosion like the main block. XPCrew shakes his head
knowingly and gives me a little nod and smirk. CaptainADD is confident though, "Just move that jib
car forward." So XPCrew dutifully tries but it won't move. Then CaptainADD starts telling him about some sort of knot
he must untie first. "Umm... Skipper there are no lines tied to the cars." SkipperADD is again befuddled but recovers himself by demanding a beer
from Greenhorn. Greenhorn retrieves it out of the gas house below. Boats downwind of us must be getting high off the fumes. By this time the gasoline has mixed with the "bilge water" and a stink so pungent that it was melting my hair was bellowing out of the cabin.
CaptainADD seems not to notice the stench that is flaking the varnish
off his topsides and proceeds to tell us a story about the time he partially sank this very boat when its keel
was holed, but he was still able to get 10kts of speed out of her even half full of water
God it just kept getting worse. So the boat we're on is actually pretty quick despite the manifest dangers. We make it to the J buoy and the offset. CaptainADD has a deep and philosophical discussion about the offset as we approach. He discusses his ideas on how far to sail out past the buoy to clear the offset by making an ideal single
tack. He makes his plans with the utmost care. Finally he makes his all important tack. Then he literally steers us between the buoy and the offset despite having executed the first part of the plan well and being fully able to clear the offset. I'm really not sure why and I don't ask. Even XPCrew is mystified and has a look on his face like he just sniffed a rotten egg.
Undeterred though, CaptainADD gybes us all the way back around and does the whole thing over AGAIN in an attempt to "redo". After that the en devour is abandoned and we fall back in with the flock heading towards the finish line. Thwarted by the offset. I think he would have gone for it thrice but the other boat's skippers were shouting at him.... You know, since he was going BACKWARDS on an important part of the race course. Its true what they say too. Sailors can swear with the best of them. Trust me.
By this time I think Greenhorn is near losing his lunch. He looks sad. Sweating, green, and gasoline soaked shoes. CaptainADD asks him to go below to get more beers. We're beating upwind now and the boat is crashing everwhere. Below would be hell for him. I stop Greenhorn and get the beers for him even though CaptainADD asked him to do it. Not sure getting beers on this death ship is a good idea, but I hand them around. Then I crawl up on the deck as "ballast" and stay there as long as I can out of earshot of the endless dribble of CaptainADD's nasally expressed wisdom.
It gets very dark heading in. Two boats are charging
across our bow, locked in a very close race. It was exciting for me to watch the duel for a while until I realized CaptainADD was not yielding to them despite not having right of way. I wasn't in the cockpit
so I didn't hear CaptainADD discuss what he would do, but we came damn close to hitting them. And the other skippers were >not< happy. Hopefully my face was hidden so that future associations aren't permanently ruined.
We finally crossed the finish line. As we turned towards the harbor I go back to the cockpit
. CaptainADD doesn't want to take the sails
down but XPCrew is arguing with him that it would be safer to motor
in. CaptainADD gets a little too passionate about his case for sailing in and forgets to helm
the boat well... Then we had our first crash gybe. It almost killed Greenhorn. The poor guy was too gone to even much notice that the boom swept over his head by about an inch. I made him lay down on the side deck as the argument raged. I climbed on deck to drop the sails
no matter if CaptainADD wanted it or not. It was going to be MUTINY. Then the second crash gybe. The boom crossed the deck and crashed so hard that the entire boat shuddered and shifted in the water
. It was a miracle nothing broke and no one died. CaptainADD's arguments died down.
I took the main down right away. XPCrew got the outboard started and we then tried to roll up the jib. It was jammed. I went up on the deck and tried to free the furler
but with no deck lights I couldn't see. CaptainADD had no flashlights. So we motored in with a nasty crosswind and the jib flogging wildly across the deck.
XPCrew took us in, somehow usurping the tiller, and we actually made it into the slip without TOO much trouble.
Green horn kissed the ground. XPCrew farted in CaptainADD's direction, and after putting the sail covers on, I got the hell out of dodge despite CaptainADD's repeated suggestions I let him buy me some hamburgers and drinks at the yacht club.
My thoughts... Don't sail with people you don't know unless you have to. If you get a bad feeling at the dock
, just say you're going to chicken out and leave. It isn't worth it.
If this would have been my first sailing trip, I doubt I would have ever sailed again. The wonderful experiences I had with Glenn and his boat/crew give me the fortitude to look past CaptainADD's night of hell. Find good people to sail with. Love them for being awesome. They protect you from the bad times even long after you've parted ways.