‘you’re either really good or completely fucking insane’ said the workers in the yard when I told them of our plan.
as I sit, still recovering 2 days later from our ‘adventure’, I’m inclined to believe them.
turns out we had one of each.
[I'm gonna write this in very small parts - as my hands are still cut up and the thought of what we went through still exhausts me.]
Nick, who’s been sailing for over a decade, said this was ‘one of his most challenging sails’
the manager of the moorings admitted today that ‘he didn’t expect us to make it’ [meaning we'd end up getting a tow, not that we'd die]
and, well, you already know the boatyard crew’s assessment.
the day started out great, it called for rain – which would have made my anti-fouling difficult – but none came until a few minutes after we put her in the water.
there was some champagne and some good words and somewhere in my boat is a little piece of silver and even the guy with the 20,000 pound daysailer next to mine commented on what a good boat she was. we got in and started up the motor only to find that it wasn’t pumping water – a bad sign and one that meant we couldn’t run the outboard – something that we needed. fortunately, Nick had a rule of ‘two of everything’ and his little prop was substituted in. we finally pulled away and, while a good writer would find a way to build up momentum to this next sentence, I’m simply too tired.
I hit the 20,000 pound daysailer.
right there in front of everyone who was initially impressed with the Yank who planned on sailing home.
hit it – hard.
I didn’t think to steer both my boat and the outboard and that’s how it happened. bang. bam. etc. fortunately for me, earlier that day, I had actually offered to help the older owner with his mast and that’s the only thing that kept his tight smile from being one of violence. I froze and Nick shot me a ‘we need to get out of here now’ look.
I got out of there now.
we motored down and made our way out into the river that would eventually take us out into the English Channel.
and as we motored, we began to smell petrol coming from the cabin.
I haven’t sailed much, but I know petrol smells coming from the cabin are bad.
as it turned out, the guy who sold us the boat hadn’t connected the fuel pipe to the fuel tank correctly and gas had leaked from that and out into the bilge – a bilge that ran right into the cabin.
here’s a quickie for ya – guess who gets to clean out shit like this? the captain. oh, how many years have I wanted that title and how many years would I end up cursing.
so, here we are: I’m 10 minutes from smacking a boat that cost more than 10x than my own. it’s raining. it’s cold. it’s windy. it’s England. and I have to pull my jacket + sweater + two long-sleeve t-shirts off to put my hand down into the space where the fuel tank is and scoop all the gas out with a small cup…
while we’re moving.
while Nick is driving my new boat.
that took an hour.
[I'm knackered from reliving this already - okay, will make this even shorter]
we get to the river – The Solent – and it’s horrible. even Nick said it was horrible. constant tide changes. choppy. and packed with loads of ships.
these were all battled for the better part of 4 hours until it started to get dark. so we had to find a place to pull into for the night.
finding it was easy, but keep in mind, we’re cold. and wet. and it’s windy. and it’s England. and it’s the Sol… you see what I mean.
we pull into Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight and I hand over the tiller to Nick. one boat collision a day was fine, thanks – and in this harbour were some million-dollar rigs. he pulls down the sails – no easy feat, and I’ll get a video we shot along the way edited so you can see what I mean – and kicks on the motor.
only to get close to a dozen yachts to realize the little backup outboard we brought has no neutral.
and no reverse.
I freaked out.
he reacted quickly enough to pull a sharp starboard turn.
which ended up running us aground.
it wasn’t his fault, to be honest, there were no lights and we would later find out that a very famous sailing writer did the same thing a few days ago.
but we ran aground.
you’re not supposed to do that.
fortunately, it was soft sand and did no damage to the boat.
we finally tie off and while I tucked the sails away, Nick got us some fish n’ chips which we inhaled and then passed out.
no, no, that’s not right – we wanted to pass out. but we couldn’t. see, it’s a small boat. we brought ‘two of everything’. and we’re big boys.
which meant we had to both squeeze into tiny spaces.
did I mention we were wet? and cold?
and did I mention petrol had leaked into the bilge?
did I mention that because of that, we had to sleep with the cockpit door and windows open?
I feel I’m not describing this well enough – okay, here:
right – now, to judge the space, look at the water bottle – no. look at the olive oil bottle there in the middle, at the bottom. above the hole from which the gasoline smell was coming from. that back there is where Nick’s legs hung off. okay, to the bottom right, you’ll see a silver/white canister. got it? that’s what my head rested on all night.
did I mention the cold/wind/smell/England/etc?
we might have gotten 2 hours rest in total.
you’ve woken up after camping, right? it’s cold, you’re warm under the blanket, smelling of campfire and eventually, you wrap that nice sleeping bag around you and have a cup of coffee in those little blue mugs with the white specs, right?
this wasn’t it.
there was no waking up warm.
we woke up cold.
and it was colder outside.
so we simply didn’t move for an hour.
finally, we pulled ourselves out of the positions we had been forced to sleep in and get moving.
it was time for breakfast and a ‘Full English’ was the only thing we could think of to cheer us up.
we asked around the town to who served the filthiest, greasiest fry-up and were all pointed to one place.
so we went to that place.
and ordered our reward.
now, I appreciate you coming along with me this far, okay? it’s not the best read, nor does it do our first horrific day justice.
that being said, if your reaction to this photo was ‘mmmmmmm’ or ‘how nice!’ or anything positive, I’d ask you to stop reading and go away.
THIS IS NOT A FULL FUCKING FILTHY GREASY ENGLISH BREAKFAST!!!!
so, you can understand how this, our treat, would dampen us even more than we were.
they also cost $12 each.
2 plates of non-greasy betrayal and fuckery – this is what we dined on.
we walked back to the boat and decided to get an early start – the tide wouldn’t be changing for a few hours, but this way we could take our time…
or so we thought.
or maybe the day after.