Friday, 9 January 2015

Helping Hands

It is a maritime tradition that you will always help out another boat or sailor if you possibly can, as sometimes you are the only one there. We have been on the receiving end of the kindness of strangers several times already, as we struggled paddling the dinghy, when the outboard wasn't working, passers by would give us a tow, often to where we wanted to go.
So it was a no brainer when our neighbour asked for help. His cat was being hauled out the next morning, as he had an engine that was not working and needed repairing on land. So we happily gave him all our fenders and he and Darrell talked through ways of doing the task, with one engine and a very small concrete dock for the travel hoist and, most likely, a strong cross wind to contend with.

The next morning arrived and he dinghied across to ask if he could borrow Sarah on board to help throw lines and winch up the dagger boards. Darrell volunteered her services without a thought, he was focused on his job of zooming about in their rigid inflatable dinghy (with a powerful engine) and using it to turn the cat when required. He practiced this manoeuvre when they were still anchored just to be sure it worked.

The wind speed was critical and as usual it wasn't playing fair as it gusted up to nearly 30 knots, as rain squalls went through. The boat yard were happy for us to come in as other boats hadn't turned up. So as the wind dropped slightly we were just about to up anchor when we noticed a few things that you just couldn't plan for. 

As the cat had only one motor its manoeuvrability was severely compromised. There were a couple of boats anchored near the buoyed channel that woud have to be negotiated, but one seemed to be in the middle of the channel. So Darrell was dispatched to give them the warning, while we held off  our departure. As Darrell dinghied down another boat headed into the channel for the boatyard and chaos slowly unfolded.

Darrell talked to the first boat who were just off in their dinghy and they offered to wait and see if more help was needed. As he approached the boat anchored in the channel and was about to point out that they were in the buoyed channel, a panicked lady said "my anchors dragging and my husband is ashore in Budget Marine and the man clambering on the back of the boat had come to help me." Darrell then offered to go and get her husband from the chandlers. So he set off. As he did the boat motoring towards the boatyard had to move out of the channel to avoid the dragging boat and ran aground on the shallow reef.

Darrell tied up at the dinghy dock and was just at the entrance of the chandlers when a man came out. He asked, "Are you Russell?" The man looked very worried and replied "Yes, why?"
Darrell continued:" I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that your boat is dragging its anchor, but there is a man helping your wife. The bad news is that they are sailing off into the bay together." 

Understandably, Russell ran for his dinghy. On his way back to us,  Darrell was then co-opted  to help the other dinghies trying to help push the other boat off the reef. Which they managed to do, but it meant they got to the travel hoist before we did and we had to wait for them to be hauled out. 

Typically, when the hoist was ready and we up anchored the wind got up. So we had several trips round the bay through the anchored boats waiting for it to drop. When it did we motored slowly down the channel. Luckily, the skipper was good and he motored into the dock with only a couple of centimetres to spare on each side. A great relief to all of us!

Sarah tries to jump ship.

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