Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Ups and Downs of a Sea Going Life

Courtesy SOS Dan Bouy
 Nara Inlet
9th October 2011

We have one of these. We saw it at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show and thought “What a good idea!” You secure it somewhere in easy reach of the back of the boat and if someone falls overboard you just throw it to them. It hits the water, inflates automatically and they hold onto it until you can turn the boat around and recover them. It has a streamer to mark where they are and even a flashing strobe so that it can be found at night. One of those things one hopes you’ll never use, we attached ours to the rail on the stern of the boat.

Passing Hamilton Island on a reach it was a little rough. Not unduly for a 44 foot boat but Dreamagic was healed over and sailing well when a sudden gust brought the gunnel under the water. Exhilarating sailing but as the water drained off the rail it washed around the Dan Bouy which promptly inflated! I called to Rona. She came on deck to find me reluctant to let go of the wheel in these conditions, and the fluorescent, 7 foot phallic like object waving around while trying to find a means of escape to the sea rushing past just below it. Ever resourceful she managed to straddle it and get it under control. However there are some serious weights in the bottom of it which keeps it upright when immersed, and a drogue which stops it drifting away. Like a cat carrying a kitten she managed to drag the whole thing below and stow it, inflated in one of the cabins. A week later I am still not game to go in there.

Now here is a moral dilemma. We had dropped a sail off for repair at the dinghy dock at the Whitsunday Sailing Club. There was a stiff northerly blowing and the sea was lumpy as we made out way in with the rubber ducky, but once inside the wall it was calm. The sail was collected and we were preparing to make our way back out when a young fellow approached us and asked for a lift to his boat. I was not looking forward to the trip out anyway. Our monohull was rising and falling with the swell and boarding is generally done over a transom which coming up to a metre out off the water before plunging back down. Our dinghy is not that big but it is a 3 man, and while I didn’t want to make the journey any longer, the guy did need a lift. We all climbed into the dinghy, with his two bags and carefully made our way across the bay to his Catamaran.
This boat was suffering the same fate as our mono and rearing out of the water. The steps were on the starboard side but the hulls were quite narrow at the rear and the step faced inboard of the hull rather than straight back. I attempted to bring the dinghy up to let him disembark here but the difference between the movements of the cat and dinghy made this dangerous. We took the dinghy to the middle of the transom and he threw his bags into his dinghy, which was attached to the deck across the rear of his boat. So, now we just have to get him off.

The port side hull was marginally less affected by the movement of the boat so we decided to try that hull. I moved the dinghy into position and he alighted but the Cat transom came down across the bow of our dinghy. Not normally a problem, but someone had through bolted a fibreglass box to the deck to hold a gen set, and had not cut the bolts off. A two inch bolt pierced my dinghy making about a 4 inch tear in our bow. The dinghy deflated and rolled tipping the pump, shoes, and occupants into the sea. The outboard was saturated and we swam to the other hull and climbed aboard.

To cut a long story short, we brought the outboard back to my boat where I stripped it and dried it. The dinghy has gone to the repairers and I expect the bill to be around $300. We are out a $60 pump and one of a $40 pair of Crocs so let’s say $20. Our passenger, still dry beside us dripping over our boat thanked us and suggested that next time we catch up he’ll buy us a beer. What would have been a fair resolution?

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