Originally Posted by conachair
Who was it threw his barometer overboard
, Blondie hastler or someone like that? Offshore
the boat was always ready and he hated the waiting more than the gale.
I hadn't heard that story. Thanks, conachair. That's staunch.
"Offshore the boat is always ready" is, it seems to me, a great aspirational goal.
The only two times I've wondered if our survival was a slightly open question, the conditions had changed from benign to barely survivable in less than an hour.
In one case, I think 95% of the sailing boats I've ever been on would have been in trouble. We were on a small boat, and it took us no time at all to make it as ready as it would ever be.
But in the other case, we were on a big, well found boat, and the only reason why our survival was in question was that we were drastically unready in two respects.
Firstly (for the first time since I joined the boat) the skipper
had not seen fit to rig the offshore bottom washboard, which was in harbour stowage, a beautiful purpose-built teak
box integral with the wall in his cabin
The washboard in question was a wide, deep, substantially built bolt-in aluminium structure with captive bolts, deep flanges and strongbacks and peripheral seals
... and we were only three on watch.
Nobody else was up, it was dawn, and nobody could be spared to go below and get it, let alone fit it.
When it was absent, the only thing between a cockpit
full of water
and a boat full of water
was a threshold about 6" off the LOWER cockpit
The cockpit was split-level, with large 'fine weather' gracious outdoor area, and a step down to the grizzled seadog portion under the substantial solid dodger
, which was big enough to boast full length sleepable waterproof squabs either side.
So we were in a truly precarious predicament: the 'easy outdoor-indoor flow' we were contemplating was not quite the sort the designer'd had in mind when he came up with his ingenious removable bridge-deck concept
, sat in front of his drawing board.
I should have thrown a winch
handle at the wall of the skipper's cabin
, because he was clearly malingering, pretending to be asleep, presumably unsure what to do.
In his defence, it must have felt extraordinary to wake up to the boat charging
along and quivering all over, at twelve knots plus, on a dead flat ocean, having gone to sleep lolloping along at six or seven on a substantial left-over slop.
We knew exactly what to do, and were doing it, but I had a fair idea from past experience that if he "woke up", assessed our predicament and assumed his duties, he would form a completely different and probably suicidal view of our best course of action ... and insist that we do it his way.
So I never threw that handle, mercifully, as it turned out.
I should explain that the reason he was the skipper
was because he was the owner's oldest son.
The owner had flown home from the first stop on the boat's maiden voyage (a grand anticlockwise tour of the Pacific), to tend to business (and possibly because it turned out that crossing oceans lacked the appeal - for him - he had confidently expected it would have when he had the boat built)
Although he was a great kid, #1 son had no talent for offshore decision-making.
So that's the second respect in which we were unready: he was unready for command.
His younger brother was on the helm
, also a truly great kid, and he was in every sailing respect a total asset. I'd say his extraordinary helming and our (OK, my) plan were the only things between us and a watery end. (I should clarify that this was a fully ballasted deep-keeled monohull)
I was the hired hand, so although I was the only one aboard who'd crossed oceans (and that includes the boat's designer
, who was a guest, and highly regarded as having drawn many very fine cruising yachts) I had limited leverage in the command structure except on matters navigational, where I was the 'buck stops here' guy.
Even there, now that I think about it, I had to stand my ground a couple of times. But I digress ....
After the predicament had passed (a tropical revolving storm on a smaller scale and with a more rapid onset than I had hitherto thought possible), I was able to explain to the skipper how we'd resolved the problem of being caught in something over 80 knots true under full (Stoway) main, and finding ourselves unable to put it away while running off, because the in-mast furling/reefing gear
was proving undersized for the boat.
And, as I expected, far from conceding it was as brilliant as it was unconventional, he had a very different and rather prosaic idea of what we should have done. "Rounded up, head
Yeah, right !
Let sleeping dogs