Nov 19 2008

On committment

Tag: musingsjonny5waldman @ 4:47 am
A friend in Wyoming called me a couple of weeks ago and related a harrowing near-tragic sailing story… Her boyfriend and two buddies were out sailing the First Lady on Jenny lake. It was late October, and snow had already begun to fall in the mountains. Most boats had been pulled out of the lake already. After a day of sailing they headed back to the dock. It was dusk. Three quarters of a mile from shore, a gust of wind knocked the boat over. The First Lady, a Catalina 27 — is not exactly burly. At first, when the sails hit the water, the captain thought the boat would right itself… alas, the retractable “keel” (more like centerboard) decided to retract — and the boat continued to roll. Very quickly, it ended up in full turtle position — 180 degrees upside down. The three guys — all healthy and strong — scampered out off the boat, into the 55-degree water, and up onto the hull, where they clung, hoping the whole rig wouldn’t sink. (San Francisco Bay is about the same temperature year-round.) And then the fun part: they spent the next hour, cold and shivering, yelling for help, hoping someone at Signal Mountain Lodge (about a mile away) would hear them. Luckily, someone heard, and sent help…. The next day, four guys in wetsuits returned to the boat, and spent eight grueling hours, with the assistance of a couple of tows, righting the boat. The First Lady was more stable capsized, apparently, then upright. The scary part: only one person knew the three guys had gone sailing, and since the three guys were all bachelors living alone, if they hadn’t come back that night, nobody would have sent out the troops. Yikes. Just another reminder of how committing it is to go out on the water — even with an 8,000-lb keel, even in a sailboat that rights itself from 120 degrees —  someplace wet and cold and far away from everything, where you could yell all you want and nobody would hear.

Nov 12 2008

Free advice

Tag: marina lifejonny5waldman @ 6:18 am
The other day, as I was using a grinder up on deck (I’d earlier drilled 18 holes, cored them, and filled them with epoxy in preparation for installing two rails to fasten the dinghy onto), a fella walked by and offered the best kind of advice there is: free advice. He was wearing a gray t-shirt from which his stomach protruded, and he had a beer in hand. It was maybe noon. I liked him already. “So when are you leaving?” he asked. I pulled my ear plugs out and turned off the grinder, and he repeated his question. “Not for more than a year,” I said. “Well, remember, after you’re all stocked up on food, then buy your electronics.” “Sounds like good advice,” I said. “Yeah, well, I’ve wrecked all my fuckin’ electronics.” He went on… he said he’d spent his whole life sailing in Maine — in fog so thick you couldn’t see your hand, and in which GPS didn’t work worth a damn — and that he’d only run aground once, “and that’s cause I was piss drunk.” Here’s thanks for his advice, and envy for his stories.

Nov 06 2008

a devastating reminder

Tag: failures,marina lifejonny5waldman @ 12:04 am
A fire destroyed a nearby boat two days ago, and I’ve heard speculation that the fire could have been caused by: a) a cell phone charger or battery or b) a way-too-small shore-power cable or c) some other electrical short circuit created by a leak. I am, of course, relieved that Syzygy is safe, that we installed GFCI (Ground Fault Cicuit Interrupter) outlets, that we have removed so much old/janky/dangerous wiring and properly fused all circuits — but I am nonetheless, hyper aware of how many things could start a fire. I am, you could say, frazzled. Most people around here are. Continue reading “a devastating reminder”

Nov 03 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Tag: boat workmattholmes @ 1:45 am
It started raining yesterday; it was the first rain we’ve had in eight months. Then the boat started leaking. I had thought that we had already tested her thoroughly, by putting enough water over her bow in the course of our sailing to leave no dry spot. Knowing how boat things go, though, I should have known that we wouldn’t get off that easy. It leaks around at least three of our hatches. There’s a leak around the companionway that drains into our engine room–directly over my brand new electrical installations. I stopped looking after that. There must be dozens of leaks: behind cabinets, under boards, inside lockers, etc. I can’t think about it right now, it’s too discouraging.