Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
The Passing of June

This IS Voyaging

Not that I hold a grudge or anything, but when I self-published "The Harts at Sea; Sailing to Windward" I received some over the top positive reviews, many appropriate middle of the road positive reviews, and one nasty negative review. That person seemed to be looking for swashbuckling tales of storms at sea, pirates, peril, and adventure.

There's a secret about this cruising thing and it's one that we wished our non-sailing loved ones understood: If the boat is ready, and the captain and crew are capable, and if they pay attention to weather, prevailing conditions, and use common sense, then there will be very, very few swashbuckling tales of storms at sea, pirates, peril and adventure. Sure, we and our friends have had equipment fail at sea, and we've had to deal with the result. Ross and Diana on their catamaran, One White Tree, hit a giant ray when they were crossing the Pacific and broke a rudder. That's not good, but they coped beautifully.

The other day, EW wanted to tweak the whisker pole, so we waited for a time when we both were rested and the winds were light. He knew there should be a halyard to hold the pole at the right height and wanted to rig that. It would also make it easier for him on the foredeck when we needed to raise, lower, or adjust the sail.

It was a lot of effort, but he got her done.

However, shortly after the shackle he had installed failed and the halyard came free.

That is NOT a good thing. For you non-sailors, a halyard is a line that goes to the top of the mast over a pulley and is used to raise and lower things. We have a bunch of them: one each for the three sails we have; one for a spinnaker we don't have; one for the whisker pole; and one to hold the awning up at anchor. All of them are long enough to go from the deck to the top of the mast and back. Rule number one for halyards, is DON'T LET GO OF EITHER END.

The whisker pole broke that rule and we had the working end of the halyard banging around about 20 feet above the deck. We tried to pull it down with the extending boat hook but couldn't get a purchase on it in the rolling seas.

"Send me up," I said.

"You sure?"

I was. Back in St. Thomas, we had practiced with me sending EW up and I was easily able to haul him up the mast and to safely return him to the deck. If anything has to be actually fixed up there, he'll have to go. But I'd much prefer to have my life in his hands than vice versa. This was a no brainer.

So we got out the bosun's chair, I removed my life jacket, strapped myself in, tied on a strong halyard, and he hauled me up the mast. I had only been up on the dock or at anchor in a calm harbor, so at first I swung a bit -- which made EW nervous, but I was fine. I could even spit if I wanted to. (On prior trips up the mast I discovered what "scared spitless" meant.) I grabbed the line, unwrapped it about 10 times and lowered the working end to the deck, securing it on a cleat before I unhooked from the seat.

This is not a swashbuckling, harrowing tale. This is just life at sea. Once things were settled, I went to sleep and EW went back to reading his Jack Reacher novel. It is my goal not to provide swashbuckling, harrowing tales. Boring is good.

Currently at 34 26.8 North and 48 36.4 West


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