Many years ago we left Taleisin on a mooring in Poole Harbor, on the south coast of England while we enjoyed a party on shore. We returned to our dinghy at about 11 PM to find fog had rolled in and visibility was down to about 50 feet. The moorings off Parkstone yacht Club are at least a ¾ miles from shore, first you row across a long tidal flat, until you reach deep water where the moorings start, after another hundred yards you reach the main channel where tides can run up to two knots, then you find the main mooring field where Taleisin lay. We set off from the yacht club jetty, rowing (we had no outboard motor) and at first we weren’t terribly concerned as, between oar strokes we could hear the sound of water lapping against mooring cans and hulls. We passed close to two boats we recognized. Then, after we’d been rowing for about eight or ten minutes both of us began mentioning how limited the visibility was, the risk we were taking that we’d miss our boat completely and get lost if the tide was running faster than we expected. Larry said, “we’re headed right back to shore. I’m going to find us a hotel for the night.” I think I protested at spending the equivalent to a week’s cruising funds, just for a night in a hotel. But Larry stated, “what’s a bit of money compared to spending a night fumbling around and possibly ending up swept out to sea.” He was at the oars, we turned back. The one consolation, the breakfast the hotel served was wonderful.
This incident has been in my mind for the last few weeks because of a comment we received about last months cruising tip called, Can You Buy Safety? http://www.landlpardey.com/you-can%E2%80%99t-buy-safety.html. (It was also posted on Cruisers Forum and got an interesting of discussion going- http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f128/can-you-buy-safety-82174.html.) The goal of that post was to encourage people to think of their skills and seamanship as the first step toward safety, with store purchased gear as an adjunct. One of the comments we received, seemed to raise more questions than it answered.
“As we were getting ready to cast off in the dinghy on a cold foggy midnight, I asked my friend, who was driving, if he had his safety gear? I was wearing my floater and he his foulies, he pointed to his PFD on the seat and said it is right there. We hit the break water wall; I was knocked unconscious and left floating for several hours, my friend drowned and I walked away.”
There was no other information with this note and I have quoted it here to see if any of you have thoughts you’d like to add.
Now on to the newsletter itself. Usually these newsletters tell of what Larry and I have been up to. But this month some of our most interesting sailing activites have been with two projects involving friends, one from Texas one right here at our New Zealand home base.
John Pryor, who has his home near us in North Cove, has spent much of the past five years upgrading and racing 34 foot Gypsy, a 72 year old classic New Zealand sloop. Unfortunately, in January this year, just after crossing the starting line of the biggest regatta in the southern hemisphere, Gypsy who was under full sail on starboard tack moving slowly in about five knots of wind, was hit and sunk. The offending yacht was a 65 footer under power. The owner was returning from his holidays and had a big hard bottomed inflatable stored on the foredeck blocking his view. He was moving at close to 10 knots through a fleet of about 1000 boats and stated “I just didn’t see Gypsy.” John managed to jump free seconds before the collision. His partner, Jill who did not have time to react was nearly drowned and suffered a fractured pelvis. Gypsy went down in less than a minute. She might have rested on the bottom forever. But, with the encouragement of lots of people, and after careful consideration since insurance would never cover the cost of restoring a boat like this, John decided to set up a trust to bring her back to life again. She was raised from the bottom of Auckland harbor and last week we went over to the work shop where the first phase of the project has begun.
As I looked through the gaping hole in her side, I thought of the first time I had seen insider her hull. That was a few days after John bought her. Gypsy was on our tidal grid so Larry could do a complete survey and help John decide on upgrades to help her last another 70 years. A few hours after Larry started checking, tapping, looking in every nook and cranny of this triple skinned kauri-hulled boat, I heard him calling, “Lin, can you give me a hand.”
I went down to the boatyard and he said, “Climb aboard. So far she’s looking to be in really good condition. All original planking, but I can’t see what’s behind the fuel tank, up in the transom area. My shoulders won’t fit under the side deck.”
Well, I’ve been here before. Through the years as we earned our cruising funds by fixing boats, Larry has asked me to crawl where he couldn’t. I’ve skinned my elbows, gotten jammed into places where he had to pull me out by my legs. This time was no different. Fortunately it was a quiet day, no neighbors. No one saw me strip my jersey off so it wouldn’t snag on anything as I slid under the deck. Then I tried to wiggle behind the inconveniently placed fuel tank. My pants kept catching on rivet heads so they came off too. Then I was able to scrunch slowly aft until I could see the inside of the transom. Once I was all the way in, Larry handed me a flashlight, a metal rod and on his instructions I tapped everywhere listening for any sign of soft timber, checking for any signs of movement such as cracked paint. She was in like new condition aft, not a sign of any repairs during all her years afloat. I only found one small item to add to Larry’s report – she needed a backing plate under her mainsheet cleat. Report relayed, I called, “okay, pull me back out.” Larry grabbed me by my ankles but when my head emerged he whispered, “Just lay there for a few minutes.” I lay on my back laughing at his attempts to sound polite but end the conversation with a neighbor who was walking along the foreshore beneath Gypsy’s bow. When I realized it would be a long wait, I managed to wiggle back into my clothes without once exposing any nudity to the world beyond the edge of Gypsy’s cockpit. John has assured me he won’t be putting the offending watertank back in Gypsy. Take a look at www.gypsy.org.nz for the whole story of the accident, her history, why she is definitely worth restoring and the folks who are making it all happen.
Now to Texas; we first met Lyn Foley, when we sailed into the Azores on our way north from Brazil. She and her husband Jim had just crossed the Atlantic on their Valiant 40, Sanctuary. They’d had a difficult time during stormy weather in the Gulf Stream, aggravated by the fact that Jim suffers from Parkinson’s disease. We were amazed at their determination to carry on with their cruising dream despite his health issues and encouraged them to meet us in Ireland. We had a great rendezvous in one of the most musical towns in the world, Dingle on Irelands wild and windy southwest coast. We kept in touch through the years. Recently Lyn decided to write a book about the ten years they spent circumnavigating, telling how they went from being hippies selling handmade jewelry in Haight-Ashbury to owning three jewelry stores, then sold everything to go cruising. Just a few days before they planned to sail away, Jim was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and told he’d have to give up his dream. But they went anyway. After reading her first version of the book, I felt lots of would-be cruisers could gain from reading it. Then I got involved with shepherding Lyn’s project, adding an introduction and generally trying to be helpful. The new edition of Go Anyway has just been released and has gotten some very nice reviews -http://www.goanyway.net/. Lyn, now makes beautiful handblown glass jewelry. Jim creates silver pendants and earrings at their home studio in central Texas www.lynfoley.com. We might just meet up with Lyn and Jim as we drive back across the USA after our time presenting seminars at the SSCA Gam in Annapolis, the US Sailboat Show then the SSCA gam in Punta Gorda, Florida. Shows how the friends you make while cruising continue to be part of your life long after you sail off in very different directions.
Fair winds, smooth seas and a fine summer
Lin and Larry
P.S. for those of you who prefer downloading DVD’s, our new program, Cost Control While You Cruise is now available at www.thesailingchannel.tv.