All Ok

 

  The thing about sailing is that you’ve got to pay attention to the wind.  Ya, I know, duh.  But it’s that the more time you spend on the water, the finer your attention becomes.  Minor changes in course or sail trim can make for a huge change in progress – upwind or down.  And careless disregard, especially downwind, can “do considerable damage, up to and including bringing down the mast”*.

 Everybody on board pays attention – whether it be with the top of their mind or a few synapses back.  All can but notice if they’re getting the crap shaken or welcoming the more smooth interludes.  Life under sail is an incredibly refreshing, invigorating step away from the quotidian.  Whatever might transpire.

  Recently for example yours truly, in an incredible display of skill and prowess, managed to foul the dingy line.  Twice.  First time was a real mess.  Daughter voiced concern as the yellow polypro line tightened around her arm as other end wrapped around the propeller.  Someone yelled to kill the engine before it dragged her under.

  Examination with mask and snorkel found a potentially serious problem.  The line was not only tightly cinched around the propeller, but shreds were also drawn into its coupling with the shaft.  An inability to clear it would have had us adrift until rescue.  Or grounding.

  Son, son-in-law, and I took turns holding our breaths and using an assortment of tools in an effort to clean things up.  It was easy to saw through the exposed coils, but the stuff wedged in proved problematic.  The extra buoyancy of the salt water helped by holding us against the bottom of the boat while working.

  After some progress, we heard a banging on the side of our boat – the “Buff”.  I surfaced and was told breathlessly that there were a bunch of barracuda about.  Sure enough there were a dozen or so of the snarly looking fish grimacing at us.  They were about a yard long and only sort of menacing, but their jagged under bite was hard to miss. 

  After quite a bit of time and effort and bursting lungs, it seemed like we’d gotten it all.  Fired up the engine, engaged the prop, and bingo! Forward and reverse both worked just fine.  So much more satisfying than working on computer problems, dealing with the TV remote, or “recalculating”.

  Shut it back down, hoisted sails, and made for the next port.  Dropped anchor and let out the prudent five times depth rode (chain).  Watched landmarks on shore to make sure anchor wasn’t dragging.  Seemed ok, but crew member donned mask, snorkel, and fins to make certain.  All okay.  Time for a glass of wine. 

*Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook

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