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Old 08-01-2013, 10:05   #1
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Imaginary Helmsman

Slocum talks about a "homonculus" who steered for him during a storm when he was too fatigued to go on. I have read of such an imaginary helmsman in at least a few other solo single-handed accounts and have a friend who claims that someone took over duties at the wheel from him after 50 some hours of solo helming.

Not an entirely serious thread, but just curious what others think about this phenomenon.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:25   #2
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

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Slocum talks about a "homonculus" who steered for him during a storm when he was too fatigued to go on. I have read of such an imaginary helmsman in at least a few other solo single-handed accounts and have a friend who claims that someone took over the helming duties from him after 50 some hours of solo sailing.

Not an entirely serious thread, but just curious what others think about this phenomenon.
Manery and Tinkerbell had such a pilot crossing the Atlantic...
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:35   #3
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

Sleep deprivation does cause hallucinations. On a trip to Key West some years ago I was required to stand continuous watch because of very bad weather. After 20 hours at the helm in really rotten conditions, we were approaching Key West somewhat before sunrise and I kept imagining islands to our east even though I knew darned well there were none there. Never the less their apparent presence was rather compelling and were I in unknown waters I might have reacted rather than simply ignoring the impression and trusting my instruments. FWIW...
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:48   #4
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

Wasn't Slocumb sick at the time? So a fever can bring on hallucinations, as does fatigue.
I think they are probably quite normal for a fatigued or I'll mind to conjure up what you would like... Relief from the storm, someone strong guiding etc.

Far better than the other way where fatigue could produce like what some drugs produce... Visions of horror!
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Old 08-01-2013, 11:13   #5
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

Hallucinations can be powerful things. Obviously, this is nothing more than that.
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Old 08-01-2013, 12:36   #6
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

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Wasn't Slocumb sick at the time? So a fever can bring on hallucinations, as does fatigue.
I think they are probably quite normal for a fatigued or I'll mind to conjure up what you would like... Relief from the storm, someone strong guiding etc.

Far better than the other way where fatigue could produce like what some drugs produce... Visions of horror!
Slocum had rather over indulged in goat's cheese and Pico plumbs which anyone/everyone knows is a fool's mix. Fortunately for him the helmsman from the Pinta arrived on the scene and held Spray on course while Slocum endured his abdominal phenominal, chiding him for having indulged in such foolish provisions and regaling him with tales of travel and travail with Senior Capitan Columbo.

Ya gotta know yer history son....
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Old 08-01-2013, 13:02   #7
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

I think the stories come mostly from solo sailors: they get more tired, they have no company to talk to, they may start seeing and hearing things other people do not see and hear.

Never happened to me. My crew had hearing hallucinations once - this was too after many hours of exhausting watches and too little sleep.

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Old 08-01-2013, 13:17   #8
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Slocum had rather over indulged in goat's cheese and Pico plumbs which anyone/everyone knows is a fool's mix. Fortunately for him the helmsman from the Pinta arrived on the scene and held Spray on course while Slocum endured his abdominal phenominal, chiding him for having indulged in such foolish provisions and regaling him with tales of travel and travail with Senior Capitan Columbo.

Ya gotta know yer history son....
Speaking of knowing history..... The helmsman accompanied Slocum for much of his journey. They first met off that night, but like many noteworthy hallucinations he came by often.

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Old 08-01-2013, 13:33   #9
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

Might also be that a well balanced seaworthy boat handles itself fine. The skippers though he's somehowe irreplaceable navigating throw the eye of the storm being just delucion..
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:31   #10
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

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Might also be that a well balanced seaworthy boat handles itself fine. The skippers though he's somehowe irreplaceable navigating throw the eye of the storm being just delucion..
Actually, the Spray reportedly would hold a steady course with well trimmed and balanced sails and the helm free. The Hiscock's had the same experience, off the wind, with Wanderer III in the 1950's as did Joe Richards with his Freedom Sloop, Princess, in the 1930's-40's. In each case, the helm was left free.

FWIW...
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:51   #11
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

Old boat in my harbour, double ender, claims to have sailed 17 days on trimmed sails alone.
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:57   #12
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

I once had to chase an elephant off of my foredeck.
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:06   #13
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I once had to chase an elephant off of my foredeck.
I had the same experience also, but mine was pink, and get out of there flying!
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:25   #14
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

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I had the same experience also, but mine was pink, and get out of there flying!
Mine was grey with small ears. Yelling didn't work so I attached my teather to the jackline and went forward using a winch handle to force it to leave.
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:50   #15
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Re: Imaginary Helmsman

We are social animals and crave company.

Robin Knox-Johnson claims it never happened to him. But there is one incident about which he writes hearing a voice that sure sounds like a hallucination.
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