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Old 29-07-2012, 17:16   #1
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Overboard -- Again :(

It was a day full of mishaps. We pulled the anchor up in St. Aubin’s bay and headed into St. Heliers port to bunker up on cheap duty-free diesel fuel. Our young crewman decided he absolutely had to buy cigarettes for his grandparents at the duty free shop and ran off. We were kicked off the fuel berth before he came back, and had to circle around and raft up on the waiting pontoon to pick him up. It was a horribly difficult raft and we bent a stanchion getting off due to a fender stuck between fenders of the neighboring boat. After all that, we headed out and around the West side of Jersey en route to Alderney.


We were just passing the East side of the island of Sark when the boat stopped dead in her tracks. A lobster pot – a large commercial one. Caught in the rudder. The current was so strong that the line was almost horizontal and the buoy was under water. We cable-tied a sharp knife to a boathook and tried to cut the line, but the current was so strong that it was impossible to hold the knife. Our young crewman, usually so bold, thought it was hopeless and was all for calling the coast guard. We were stuck fast with the current rushing around us – a strange feeling (and what kind of anchors do they have on those lobster pots that can hold a 25 ton boat in a 4 knot current??). But I took the grapnel anchor from the dinghy, hooked the lobster pot line with it, then hauled it up with a winch to above the water. Like that, the line was easily cut and we were away. But there was clearly still rope in the rudder. We heard a terrible graunch, and knew that the line had gotten into the prop as well (thank God for rope cutters). We felt a vibration. Were we in fact dragging a whole lobster cage with us? I tried circling slowly around in both directions, and again in reverse, but no results. So we got the engine shut down and put up sails, and diverted to Guernsey, where there is a major port (St. Peters Port) where we could have the boat hauled and repaired if it came to that.


We sailed into the rather small Havalet Bay under the castle in St. Peter Port, and tried to anchor between an Oyster 53 and some kind of large steel ketch. We could not get the anchor to set. So we moved further in among the smaller boats. I dropped the anchor in just the right spot, where it set instantly, then paid out chain until we were perfectly placed equidistant between all the other boats. I backed down on it with gradually increasing revs as is my habit, then with satisfaction put the snubber on. My father started mixing martinis and I felt a sense of relief and relaxation spread over me after the difficult day, but just at that moment an angry person appeared in the cockpit of a tiny, battered, ancient Beneteau First next to us, wearing a blue ensign. He was very unhappy about where I had anchored, as it seemed to him that we might swing around and crush him.


Now when cruising, I avoid at all costs all kinds of unpleasantness. We have had some discussion about that here on CF. The whole point of cruising is to have fun and be in a good mood, and I won’t let anyone spoil my good mood. So although I knew I was anchored as well as possible, I asked him “What do you want me to do? Pull in some chain and move up? Or let some out?” What I didn’t say was “Short of hauling up my anchor and sailing off to hell, what would you like for me to do?”, but that is what I was thinking.


Then he went all passive-aggressive on me, refusing to make a suggestion which might satisfy him, and said “You are the master of your vessel and it is your right to make the decision what to do. I shall sleep well tonight knowing that you have made the right decision.”


There was really no other place to anchor for a boat of our draft, and just leaving it at that, with him fuming and staring dagger eyes at us all evening would have been a violation of my cruising code. So since there was no other acceptable alternative, I sent our young crewman over in the dinghy to invite him over for a drink. He was literally speechless when he heard the invitation, according to the crewman. But he came over.


And we had a splendid time. Like many people who are nervous or irritable, he had a good excuse. His wife came down with brain cancer and then divorced him and took away all of his property just months before dying, everything except the little boat. He was laid off from his job. He was single-handing towards the Mediterranean. He was a really good sailor and really interesting person. But I had already had my sundowner before he came on board, and was just about to have some supper, so I was unprepared to start a bibulous evening, a drink in my stomach already and no food. Therefore with the extremely enjoyable conversation we got extremely drunk without really realizing it.

The next day, my father said that we kept him awake all night shouting and carrying on, that we had really had a right carouse. Horrible. I can't imagine what the poor people on boats around us thought.


The party finally wound down about 03:00, and I said good bye and went to bed as our crewman took our neighbor home in our dinghy. But just as I was getting my clothes off, I heard a splash, and a shout – “Oh f***. I need you on deck, now!”. I knew what happened before he finished his sentence – our guest had lost his footing getting into the dink and had gone in the drink. Very drunk and in pitch darkness at 03:00. So I threw my clothes back on, went up on deck, got into the dink myself to try to help pull him out. Well, I had one foot on the boarding ladder and one in the dinghy, and if I had had my wits about me, I would have immediately understood that I should not be trying to pull someone up from that position. Naturally, the dinghy swung out, and I was in the water in a heartbeat. Splash – now two drunk people in the water at oh-dark hundred. To his credit, our crewman forgot all about our guest at this moment and tried frantically to get me out. He rigged a boarding ladder on our transom platform, and I swam around to the transom and tried to get out that way. No luck. I swam back around to the side of the boat where the dink was tied up, to see that our guest had rolled into the dink all by himself. So with his help, I did likewise, and the double MOB situation was resolved. I said good night one more time, took off my soaked clothes, had a hot shower, and went to bed, fuming at myself and at my incredible stupidity, which could have easily gotten me drowned.


The next day, I straightaway bought one of those emergency boarding ladders which you attach to your lifelines, which fall down to a couple of feet below the water, and which you can release from the water. And our neighbor came over again, this time in his own dinghy, had dinner with us, and watched a movie. We were drinking nothing but Coca Cola that evening.

Lessons learned (or mostly, re-learned), in no particular order:


1. It would be better to drink less.


2. One must keep a better watch for lobster pots.


3. Cable ties are superb for tying knives to boathooks.


4. One must be more careful around the water, especially at night after having a jolly party, and especially when getting into the dinghy.


5. When cruising, never let anyone spoil your good mood, no matter what it takes.


6. And anyway, most people are really perfectly nice and sometimes even very interesting, if you can create a chance to get to know them.


7. Sudden, unexpected immersion in cold water clears the head remarkably.


6. Never let crewmembers run onshore when you are on a busy fuel berth.
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Old 29-07-2012, 17:37   #2
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

Classic!

Btw, this ) fell off the upper right side of the # 8 in your post, found it floating about at the bottom of my screen. Thought you've had enough mishaps for one day so I'll waive the salvage rights this time.....

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Old 29-07-2012, 18:06   #3
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

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Originally Posted by micah719 View Post
Classic!

Btw, this ) fell off the upper right side of the # 8 in your post, found it floating about at the bottom of my screen. Thought you've had enough mishaps for one day so I'll waive the salvage rights this time.....

This was just so funny. I still can't get the *fresh* water outta my nose. ;-)
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Old 30-07-2012, 09:21   #4
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

Sounds like you made a new friend, too. By the way, you owe me a keyboard and a replacement for the coffee I just shot out my nose.
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Old 30-07-2012, 09:31   #5
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

LOL. Best thing about you relating this experience I can enjoy it without having the after effects the following morning.
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Old 26-06-2014, 21:32   #6
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

Great story and well told too.

Where do find a young crewman? Especially one that retrieves.
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Old 27-06-2014, 01:03   #7
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

That was great! Seriously laughing-out-loud funny. And you deserve kudos for extending an olive branch and making friends with an unhappy man who would have left me fuming. That will give me pause if ever in a similar circumstance in the future. Good on ya
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Old 27-06-2014, 02:13   #8
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

What a great attitude to not not let anything spoil your good mood - I must try it
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Old 27-06-2014, 03:25   #9
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

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Where do find a young crewman? Especially one that retrieves.
Crew exchange on internet forums!

I'm always short-handed so am an active user of these. I've had great experiences with this method of raising crew -- made several really good friends and mostly kept the boat reasonably well-crewed.

That particular young crewman was a funny case -- lied about his age and his sailing ability -- turned out to be 17 years old the first time he sailed with me! Had to hide the liquor stores when he was on board. But he was actually a great guy and was very helpful -- he sailed with me many times over about three years, including two summer cruises. One advantage of a guy like that is he was always available on short notice. Unfortunately, he moved to Australia to become a Harley-Davidson mechanic.
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Old 27-06-2014, 03:31   #10
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

I may have met him then.

Coops.
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Old 27-06-2014, 06:00   #11
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

Through this story is how I first met Mr. Dockhead here on CF. I was the Oyster 53 in his story... it's a small world.

Ken
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Old 27-06-2014, 07:33   #12
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

I love it. Just shared this story with my wife and we both really like the idea of doing everything you can to keep from letting someone ruin your mood/day. Though I have to admit, I'd probably have a hard time extending the olive branch the way you did here...maybe with the two of us both trying to keep from letting something like this ruin things,we'll have a better chance of keeping the peace.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27-06-2014, 10:43   #13
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

9. When all else fails, swim over to the Oyster where the swim ladder is always untied, ready to deploy and you'll be offered a warm towel and some tea.
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Old 27-06-2014, 10:55   #14
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

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9. When all else fails, swim over to the Oyster where the swim ladder is always untied, ready to deploy and you'll be offered a warm towel and some tea.
Tea?!


What is really funny is that our original chosen anchoring spot was right next to Kenomac. For some damned reason I couldn't get the anchor to set -- the one and only failed set with my present Spade anchor ever. I spent a lot of time admiring his beautiful Oyster.

I wonder if the anchor had set, whether we would have met Kenomac instead?
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Old 27-06-2014, 11:16   #15
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Re: Overboard -- Again :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
Through this story is how I first met Mr. Dockhead here on CF. I was the Oyster 53 in his story... it's a small world.

Ken
The story keeps getting cooler. I'm half expecting the guy in the "ancient Beneteau First" to chime in next
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