Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bring Me My Parrot, ya scurvy dog!

The 43 knot wind began to pound the boat

Stinging rain assaulted our faces

Rolling white caps tossed the boat so hard that 3ft of the jib was dipped into the water.

The swirling winds spun the boat 180 degrees

We needed the mainsail dropped and we needed it dropped immediately.

We tried to drop it but it hung.  Tried again but it hung. We wondered what it could be. It should have been working.

Then we see the problem.

A tell tale rope on the mainsail had gotten hung on a lazy jake (Guide rope in the rigging).

We have to fix the problem.

Seconds later I am dangling 6 feet up the slippery mast.  I had the fingertips of my right hand hanging on to a cleat on the mast and the tips of my toes of my right foot trying not to slip off a toe hold I had found. The rest of me was stretched into open space : steak knife in my hand. The boat was pitching and everything was soaking wet. I was being thrown back and forth like a drenched rag doll. With every swing to the right I could reach the tell tale rope and saw on it a couple times. Swing left and I hold on. Swing right and I knife on the rope. Swing. Hold on. Swing. Cut. Swing. Hold On. Swing. Cut. Until finally I succeed. SNAP I get through the rope and the sail comes down.

I was relieved to have freed the sail but I was still getting beat around so I decided I would benefit from the use of both hands and feet on the mast now that the mission was completed. But I had a knife in my left hand. 

It was as I was placing the knife blade between my teeth so I could climb down the rain soaked mast that I realized.......THIS IS BAD ASS. I LOVE THIS. I"VE BEEN WAITING MY WHOLE LIFE FOR THIS.

As a kid I always fantasized of being an old salty pirate. And there I was up the mast with a knife in my mouth amidst a squall in open water ARRRRRRRGGHH
Having grown up on Mobile Bay, I have sailed for 1000s of hours. My brother had a boat, I had a boat,  my cousins had boats. Sailing was my favorite thing to do. But all that sailing was done aboard small catamarans in the relatively smooth Mobile Bay or once in a Blue Moon in the Gulf of Mexico.

The sail we made yesterday was aboard a 35-40 ft boat across the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. 

Yesterday's trip was an 11 hour sail from Roi Namur down to Kwajalein. We were traveling North to South through the largest Lagoon in the world. It's 1400 square miles of lagoon.

We ran into a couple of squalls, the worst being the one that ended with me up the mast. But we also had a few hours of nice calm sailing.

We had an amazing crew (Mark, Denise, Jim, Laura, Dale, Tim and I) which made it fun even amid the excitement.

Yesterday's sail is one I will always remember. It would have been an incredible trip even if the weather was nice the whole time. But my pirate adventures that occurred along the way made it so much better. 

FYI, I drank rum for the rest of the trip. ARRRRRRGGGH!


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