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KeithAug

Nautical Adventures.

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I wonder if any of you have memorable, interesting, informative or amusing experiences to share about ships / boats and the sea. The length of the post does not matter as long as its something that other members might enjoy.

 

e.g.

 

A Memorable Passage

 

It was the early summer of 1985 when a group of friends and myself arrived at Ardvasar on the Isle of Skye. We had chartered an Oyster 39, a well-founded ketch and a good heavy weather boat. We had planned to make a prompt start but the charterer had other ideas, being intent on stripping down the anchor winch. We protested that we didn’t need it, but he was insistent and reluctantly we settled for an evening in the pub, a poor consolation prize! We dallied at the bar and didn’t board the boat until gone midnight. To our surprise the charterer was still on deck, bent over the disassembled parts of the winch.  We headed for our bunks and fell asleep to the occasional mild cursing of the man with the winch fetish.

 

We awoke late, to be greeted by the winch man wearing a satisfied smile. He declared the winch fully functional and safe for use. It failed the next day, but that was still in the future, as we cleared the mooring and headed down the Sound of Sleet.

 

Our initial course was southwest and our eventual destination was the North Atlantic and the mystical islands of the St Kilda group. We proceeded on a port tack for several hours clearing the Inner Hebridean islands of Rum, Eigg and Muck by early afternoon.

 

Tacking the boat to starboard went badly.  The starboard jib sheet ran away and jib flapped violently in the wind.  We tried again with the same result. An inquest revealed that the starboard winch rotated freely in both directions.  We did a jury rig with the starboard sheet trailed across the deck to the port winch and I went below to investigate the toolbox.  The Allen key that I needed was the one that was missing and I settled myself to filing down a larger key.  As I filed I mused on what mysteries the internals of the winch would hold and it came into my mind that pawl had probably jammed. I picked up the hammer walked up on deck and gave the winch a sharp blow.  Much to the amazement of the crew it stared working and continued to work perfectly for the remainder of the trip. Smugly I returned the hammer to the toolbox.

 

By early evening we had crossed the Sea of the Hebrides and were approaching the Sound of Eriskay.  Planning to press on through the night we hove to at the entry to the sound for an evening meal. Aberdeen angus steak with all the trimmings and couple of bottles of claret, followed by Stilton and oatcakes washed down by vintage port. We lingered over dinner far too long and when we finally staggered back on deck the sun was low in an angry sky.

 

In our slightly inebriated state we entered the sound heading into a freshening westerly.  The sound of Eriskay is a moderately tricky buoyed passage and adhering to the bearings on which the buoys are approached and departed is important. In our half cut state the back bearings proved particularly tricky but as the sun set we cleared the final obstacle and were in the Atlantic.  A short sharp sea was running driven by a freshening westerly. Close hauled we reefed down and started to punch the waves.

 

In those days navigation aids were limited to compass and a log. We set a dead reckoning course to the Northwest allowing 10 degrees of leeway with our destination some 40 miles distant.

 

The night was cold and long. The skipper took the 10am to 2pm watch while I took 2 to 6. Northwesterly squalls regularly blew through with wind strengths of 6 to 7. We were often knocked off course by their violence and we worried that our dead reckoning would fail us.  The cold gnawed at our bones and the cook dragged himself from his bunk to complain that it was excessively cold below.  We learned later that it was his idea of a joke but we found it hard to see the funny side.

 

A grey dawn broke but the visibility was good and our destinations grey outline floated on the horizon still, some 10 miles distant.

 

When approached from the Southeast the St Kilda archipelago presents itself as a mighty schooner with the easternmost island of Boreray forming the sharks fin jib and Hirta the gaff rigged main. An awe inspiring site which did much to raise the crews spirits.

 

A couple of hours saw us motoring into Village Bay and anchoring off the low black houses of the village. For generations the dwellings had sheltered the hardy islanders but now they stood bleak and empty, the last islanders having long since departed. Beyond the village were the steeply rising remnants of fields where locals grew the meager vegetables that supplement their seabird diets. The hills beyond the village deceive the eye; they have no backs, terminating abruptly before falling one thousand four hundred feet into the inky blackness of the restless sea that gnaws at their base.

 

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Village bay itself is broad, offering scant shelter from the prevailing Southwesterly winds. A jagged promontory of land protects the bay from the West but anything South of Southwest and the Atlantic rollers, undisturbed for 3000 miles, pile in making the anchorage untenable. Fortunately the wind was in the West and we anchored, breakfasted and grabbed a little sleep.

 

I was shocked into wakefulness much too soon. The boat was yawing violently and snatching angrily at the anchor chain. The wind had freshened and moved to south-southwest. Thoughts of a run ashore evaporated and we decided to move round to lee of the island in the hope that conditions would improve. The anchor winch made a feeble attempt at lifting the chain and then died.  We took the weight off using the engine and hauled it in by hand.

 

The lee of the island was in the Northeast at the base of the islands dramatic cliffs. Our hope that they would provide sanctuary was however sadly misplaced.

 

Beneath the cliffs we attempted to heave to.  No sooner had we settled hove to on one tack than the wind would veer 180 degrees necessitating resetting on the opposite tack. This happened several times until with one malevolent vortex the boat was thrown on its side with the main mast hovering just feet above the waves. I was on the helm and I clearly recall looking into the cabin and seeing bodies and the boats fridge falling vertically from port to starboard beam. The on deck crew responded without prompting, sheets were released and slowly the boat righted herself.  Fortunately no injuries, some worried faces………..and for me, total exhilaration.

 

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We stooged about for a while completing a circuit of the Hirta under sail waiting for the 6pm shipping forecast. When it came the news was not good. “Westerly gale force 9 to storm force 10 imminent”.  Our escape was neither close nor pleasant. Running before the storm would take us through the sound of Harris, a shallow rock strewn corridor blessed with shifting sand bars. A place of tricky navigation - certainly not to be attempted by night. Yet with all its disadvantages it was the best of our limited options. In the gloom of a cold grey evening we hoisted the working jib, reefed main and headed east.

 

As darkness descended we cleared Boreray on our port beam and in the gathering storm dropped the main and set a pocket-handkerchief of a storm jib.

We decided on 2 hour watches, to make the cold bearable. I drew the 10 to 12pm and 2 to 4am. It was already 9 o’clock so no point in going to bed. The storm held off until about 11pm but then hit like a train. Our speed increased to 8 knots and when surfing down waves we frequently touched 10.

 

I was relieved at midnight and fully clothed I climbed into my bunk.  Sleep proved difficult as the storm played out its symphony in the rigging and the boat repeatedly fell of wave crests and crashed into the troughs. I strained to make out the shouted commands from the deck but they barreled away on the wind and I was left to guess their significance.  I finally dosed only to be shaken roughly awake by the skipper. “Your watch, about 15 miles to the entry to the sound”. I climbed on deck with little enthusiasm.

 

The storm seemed to blow with renewed vigor and with the imminent prospect of overrunning a lee shore the imperative became slowing the boat. In the glow of the deck flood I rode the rollercoaster while fighting the storm jib into its bag.  Now under bare poles we continued on at 4 knots,  still much too fast to avoid a nighttime landfall.  We started assembling gear to rig a sea anchor but quite suddenly the gusts lessened and within half an hour the storm had moderated sufficiently to heave to under jib and mizzen.  It was 3.30 pm and on the eastern horizon faint signs of dawn teased the eye.  As the black of night turned to the grey of dawn islets started to appear ahead and abeam.  We were ahead of our dead reckoning position and already in the sound. We had been lucky.

 

I don’t remember how we found the buoyed passage, but we did and by 8am we were clearing the sound and negotiating the tidal gate at the entry to our chosen anchorage, Rodel Pool, on its northern shore. Within the hour we were all safely asleep.

 

While that was over 30 years ago some of the crew still sail together. And after a long sail, over a hot meal and a bottle of wine, we still share fond memories of our first St Kilda trip.

Edited by KeithAug

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1 of hundreds: On patrol Alabama Marine Police, Dauphin Island, Alabama early 70s. I had received an emergency call a boats steering cable broke and the boat ran into the old concrete humpback bridge connecting Peavy  Island with Dauphin Island with injuries.

 

Injured had been brought to the Dauphin Island Marina and I began the accident investigation. One gentleman had minor injuries, the second passenger was catapaulted thru the windshield, and had bloody towels wrapped around his head and neck (intoxicated). I had my trusty first responder kit and attempted to render aid. He would not accept any treatment and stated he needed to be taken to the hospital forthwith that he was bleeding to death, his neck was slashed and did not have long left to live. After dealing with his ramblings I finally coerced him to let me remove the towels so I could see his injury.

 

The whole time I was threatened with my job, I would be sued, he would get my house yada yada yada.

 

I removed the towels and could not help myself and started laughing and could not stop. Needless to say he became infuriated stating it was not a laughing matter his throat was hanging out and he was dying.

 

FINALLY got him in the head and had him open his eyes he had a purple plastic fishing lure that got hooked under his chin he thought was the open throat wound, all the wounds were superficial glass cuts 4 band aids a pat on the back and he was on his way. Boat did no fair to well.

 

John

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2 of hundreds: On patrol Dauphin Island early 70's, late evening boat patrol Mississippi Sound. My partner (Sam) and I were patrolling in a 28' twin engine patrol boat. We were on the lookout for violators shrimping in permanently closed waters and running light violations. Beautiful night, light winds, 1' to 2' seas full moon,visibility unlimited, running without navigational lights and with night vision.

 

Sam says John do you think we are a little close to the spoil they dredged from the I.C.W. (intra-coastal water way). (Sam being a new officer with less than 6 months experience) I says no its off to the southwest we have plenty of leeway. Sams says begging your pardon I think we are about to run aground. I says Sam night patrol is totally different than day patrol everything appears different.

 

Well about that time we ran (or I should say I) ran aground on the spoil I said was way off, boat came to an abrupt halt mud sprayed 20 feet in the air from the stern. Boat was grounded hard fast.

 

Sam says John what are we going to do should I radio in for assistance. I says NO don't touch the radio we (or I) can get ourselves out of this jam.

 

Could not back down, go forward and the tide was falling. I says Sam we have to put the boat in gear go over the side and try to push the stern when waves roll in. We took off our gear and uniforms, jumped over the side and pushed on upside of waves to no avail staying as far as possible away from the backwash.

 

Well a larger swell rolled in and the boat took off and here we were 2 naked men in knee deep water, Sams says John what do we do now holler at any boat that comes by. No way would you pick up 2 naked men standing in knee deep water in the middle of the night.

 

Well God looks after drunks and fools (me) the boat appeared to stop on another shallow,we were able to wade and swim to the boat climb in dry off and ease off the hump the water being a little deeper.

 

I says Sam this did not happen you do not breathe a word about this to anyone.(threat your still on probation) as far as your concerned this was a training exercise for you being a newbie.

 

Well I got lucky the boat had bare shafts and wheels no shoe, no damage to the boat. Sam kept quiet. It was a very stupid thing to do and a miracle one of us was not injured.

 

It was years before we told anyone what happened that night.

 

John :o

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Keith,  

 

Glad you enjoyed it I still laugh when I think about it (and how lucky we were). That was when I was young and stupid. Now I am older, wiser and less stupid. Can you Imagine if the boat kept going we always imagined the headlines in the paper. Abandoned boat recovered, 2 Marine policeman found naked standing in shallow water, career ender.  :(

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Hello John

 

We all do silly things at sea. It reminded me of my first sailing trip now many years ago.

 

We had arrived at what was to become one of our favourite anchorages - "Tinkers Hole" at the southern end of the Sound of Iona. A beautiful pool which is crowded when more than half a dozen yachts are present. Well sheltered and surrounded by pink granite cliffs (the same pink granite to be found in Arcadia National Park - separated now by 3000 miles and 65 million years).

 

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We had started drinking on the yacht but decided a beach fire and more drinks would be a fitting conclusion to the evening.  Out to sea, around  promontory "David Balfour Bay" some 2 miles distant seemed the perfect venue. We piled into the outboard and fired up the "Seagull" outboard and 20 minutes later were unloading cases of beer and a couple of bottles of rum. With driftwood scavenged and fire lit we settled down to some serious drinking.

 

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Finally, with alcohol supplies, exhausted it was time to retrace our steps. We managed to board the dinghy but somehow the most inebriated crew member took charge of the outboard starter cord. With dexterity that belied his condition he wound the cord around the Seagull, gave a mighty heave and disappeared over the side. We hauled him back on board but the merriment and laughter were swiftly curtailed when we realised that the started cord was gone forever. A long row back to to the yacht followed, out at sea on an inky black night in a rubber dinghy was a very sobering experience.

 

(Just for interest - "David Balfour Bay" is named after David Balfour the Hero and narrator of "Kidnapped" by R.L. Stevenson. The bay lies to the Immediately to the North of the Torran Rocks which also feature in the book.)

Edited by KeithAug

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Keith,

 

Absolutely beautiful area.

Hope the wet deckhand is the one that had to row. Pretty good one. You know everyone here has their stories wish they would make this a permanent header.

 

Make sure you pocket the cord next time

 

John :cheers:

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3 of hundreds: A rare off day July, the Director had planned a 4th of July cookout and wanted a goat to Bar-B-Que. The main bridge to Dauphin Island was destroyed by Hurricane Frederick all trips to the mainland were by boat either to Fowl River or Ft Morgan Peninsula, or what they called a ferry 3 hrs. round trip. (that's another set of stories).

 

He had made arrangements to have the goat delivered to Ft. Morgan ( the closets points at the mouth of Mobile Bay are Ft. Morgan and Dauphin Island approx 3 miles).

 

I was asked to pick up the goat (tantamount to an order) and transport the poor thing back to the Island. I departed in one of our 21" patrol boats and proceeded to Ft. Morgan, the bay was rough 2' to 3' seas a falling tide against a southwest wind approx.10 knots.

 

Arrived at Ft. Morgan met the person supplying the goat. He advised we needed to tie the goats legs he may get rambunctious.

I looked at the poor little thing and said no he will be okay, he advised again the goat needed to be tied, I replied I can handle a little goat. He smiled said it's your funeral and left after the goat was loaded. He laid down at the stern and was calm considering his fate to come.  About halfway back to the Island the goat went stark raving mad crazy kicking bleating (if that's the right word) his hoofs or feet whatever there called split the covering on the seats. My only avenue of escape was to knock the boat out of gear and climb over the windshield and get on the bow.

 

There we were the goat in the boat and I on the bow. I thought of just shooting the goat but it was still rough and did not want to put a hole in the boat after I had been advised to tie the goat up, noting the deliver was a personal friend of the director. STANDOFF 

 

Some how with the goat jumping all over the boat he kicked the boat into forward we were idling in circles me having a hard time holding on. At one point the goat seem to calm and i was able to climb into a seat and grab a boat paddle, he became enraged because I was back in the boat. I commenced to (I word this the best I can so PETA will not come after me) back to the paddle leave it to say I rendered him immobile and was able to tie his legs.

 

Returned to the boat slip met the Director who asked any trouble? No sir all's well.

 

It came back to me when the gentleman smiled and said it's your funeral. Can you imagine these headlines Marine Policeman lost at sea goat brings boat back to Dauphin Island.

 

These small bits of memories actually happened after a 30 year career on the water, they helped lighten the memories in time of calls and assistance to boaters that had ended badly.

 

I have more!

 

Footnote: To all you folks I know you have hilarious stories that happened on the water or at launch ramps do not be embarrassed share them with us. This is a great forum to lighten the day. Looking forward to your postings give us all a giggle. :)

 

John

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Thank you, l tried to make them interesting 4 will be later today, the years pass by and certain things fade with memory. Keith jogged these tidbits when he started this forum. I wish others would post. If I can tell follies others need to come forth there has got to be better than I'm posting.

 

Thanks

 

John

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4 of hundreds: Early 80's. My partner and I had been patrolling a permanently closed  nursery area to shrimping, Portersville Bay off of Bayou la Batre, Alabama. The boundary line was from Barron Point west to the south side of Cat Island, west to the south side of Marsh Island, west to the southern most tip of Coffee Island, south on  the west shore of Coffee to the Bayou la Batre beach.  I got a little descriptive so you could see in your minds eye a circled bay. The Bay was very shallow 2 to 10 feet at the deepest point.

 

We had been getting numerous complaints of high illegal activity, fisherman shrimping with small trawls 16 to 25 foot when conditions were right they could land approx. 50 to 125 lbs of shrimp in a 30 minute drag. They were killing us we made no arrests and were looking pretty inept and foolish. As most of you know sound travels great distances at night over the water. We would arrive early pull into the marsh to feed the mosquitoes, and listen. Towards late evening they came motors all over the bay, you could here the nets, boards and rollers being put over the side. We cranked it up and cocked it in the corner, Then they could hear us. We might be able to catch 1 or 2 their procedure was to cut the net and take off. To make an arrest you had to catch the gear in the water tied to the boat. They would use old nets so no loss. Fines ran up to $ 500.00 and loss of gear they looked at it as part of the expenses pay the fine lose and old net and go back the next night. We were hampered with night vision because of the lights on the beach. (Later laws were passed where we could seize the boat and that slowed down activity.

 

Sorry about being long winded tried to give you the picture for the minds eye.

 

SO, we were having no impact and not making enough arrests. We carried white parachute flares for search and rescue. I had had enough and received permission to use the flairs for enforcement. We notified USCG Base Mobile, and surrounding police chiefs of what was planned knowing they were going to get calls.

 

We planned a show of force utilizing 5 boats and 10 officers all found hiding holes before dark. Well there were bunches of them we let them work for about 2 hours and lit em up, firing 8 flares. You never saw so many fisherman with big round eyes like deer caught in a spotlight. They were cutting nets, running into each other, running aground. Look like a bunch of roaches when you turn on the lights.

 

They cursed said we were not playing fair (true). Made 16 arrests, and received convictions on all. They all came to court saying we had used illegal means to make the arrest, complained to the USCG to no avail.

 

The next several weeks until the shrimp left were pretty quiet.

 

I see some of the fisherman to this day I had arrested and we now get a laugh and talk about the day. Most I now consider friends.

 

(If you could have seen there faces when night turned into day)

 

John

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Ship blindness!!!

 

The day before we were due to pick up a charter yacht from Weymouth on the South Coast (of England) I had gone down with a case of the Measles. Fortunately the rest of the crew agreed that they would not quarantine me. I spent a rather itchy 8 hours in the car en route to Weymouth harbour and was much relieved when we arrived at about 4pm. The boat has handed over promptly and we made ready for an evening departure. Our route was across the English Channel shipping lanes to Alderney via Cherbourg. With everything stowed away we walked into town and bought our evening meal of fish and chips from the chippy on the quay.

 

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Hunger sated we put to sea. The Channel is often rough and this night was no exception. Clearing the headland of Portland Bill we ran into wind over tide conditions with a force 5 southwesterly blowing up the Channel. The sea was very sharp and the boat pitched and rolled alarmingly. It was about this time that I realised that fish, chips, measles and rough weather didn't mix and for the first and only time in my life I emptied my stomach for the benefit of the local wildlife. Unfortunately I din't feel a lot better after the event and resolved to stay on deck throughout the night in an attempt to avoid a repetition.

As darkness descended a continuous stream of navigation light seemed to be passing across our bow from left to right and we wondered whether a gap in the shipping lane would open up for us to pass through. Fortunately it did and by midnight we were clear. The night was dark, punctuated by frequent drenchings, as invisible waves struck the bow and rolled down the deck. I stuck it out on deck, calling on all my resolve to avoid a further bout of sea sickness. As dawn broke we approached the French side shipping lane. In the light of day crossing the steam of tankers and general cargo vessels looked a lot less daunting. 

I was feeling pretty exhausted by this time and I decided that I'd risk going below, leaving a couple of the less experienced crew members on deck. It was light, the sea had moderated and the French coast was in sight. What could possibly go wrong!!!

I took a few minutes to get out of my oilskins and cook a couple of slices of toast. I had eaten about half of the first slice when I suddenly became aware that the boat was executing a rapid 180 degree turn. I glanced up out of the cabin to be confronted by "blackness". Rushing up on deck all I could see was a huge black wall, 3 times as high as the yachts mast and disappearing endlessly to port and starboard. As the fog cleared from my mind I realised I was looking at the side of a tanker so close that it appeared that I could reach out and touch it (although in reality it was probably a couple of hundred yards away). I cast a quizzical look at the helmsman who in defence of his position spoke the immortal line "I didn't see it".

Edited by KeithAug

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Continuation

 

After our dice with the tanker we continued to head south until we saw the low profile of the breakwater at the entry to Cherbourg harbour. Our plan was to pick up the back eddy from the Alderney race, a tidal stream that under the right conditions can exceed 12 knots. Our plan failed and we spent the morning tacking back and forth off Cherbourg waiting for the tide to change. At about noon the tide started running with us and in next to no time we were approaching Alderney harbour. We motored in and picked up one of the moorings which run parallel to the breakwater. 

 

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The photograph shows a calm summer scene, however for us it was early May and the conditions were stormy. We had been listening to the shipping forecasts and the south-westerly 5 to 6 we had been experiencing was the product of  a lull between a series of deep depressions. By early evening a full gale was blowing  with the breakwater being frequently over topped by angry seas.

 

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The mooring was quite lively as the Atlantic swells rolled past the harbour entrance and the seas crashed down from the sky. Never the less we resolved for a run ashore, the pull of the local hostelry proving irresistible. We had a large 6 man inflatable dinghy and as usual, in the days before the Japanese takeover of the outboard market, it was power by a British made Seagull.  We piled into the dinghy full of hope and bravado and set off for the landing ramp. Our arrival was disheartening. The swell against the ramp was at least 6 feet and for a while we contemplated abandoning our mission. Desire however triumphed over common sense and we hit on a disembarkation plan. The plan was simplicity itself. We would motor the bow up to the ramp and at the peak of the swell a crew member would step off, painter in hand, and kick the bow clear allowing the dinghy to descend into the trough. It worked brilliantly and 3 of us disembarked with ease using the approved method. With the final 2 in the dinghy we were ready once more, now as efficiently drilled as a formula 1 pit crew. Up came the dinghy and the next crew member stepped onto the ramp. Unfortunately that is where the plan fell apart, the kick off of the dinghy didn't happen and the bow stayed on the ramp. As the sea fell away the dinghy was left hanging vertically from the ramp with the last crew member clinging on for dear life, up to his waist in seawater and using the submerged Seagull as a step. A very angry crewmate was safely recovered a couple of waves later. Given half a chance he would have retired to the boat for a change of clothes but unfortunately the Seagull was dead and he had no option but to accompany the rest of us on our pub crawl of St Annes. 

Edited by KeithAug

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Keith,

 

:im Not Worthy:  :im Not Worthy: I bow to your expertise with the written word, description (priceless) under those conditions I think I would have stayed in the sack, the pull of a dram be mighty strong. Landing on the ramp in those conditions qualify all of you to enter an electronic bull riding competition stateside.

 

Well done.John

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Aboard the Cape Race a 34' salmon troller I had boarded in Belingham, Wash. as a green horn Boat Puller and we went to Alaska, The Skipper, his dog, myself and the boat. The Skippers first trip to Alaska also so we had a bit to learn but I was starting from way behind. Fishing was bad so we were moving to another location, about a 3 hour run. A bit choppy and we left the trolling poles out with the stabilizers out. We were crossing about a quarter mile behind a long liner laying out a  baited line for halibut. We thought we were well clear of his gear, we weren't, the Starboard stabilizer picked up a hook. I left the wheelhouse and hauled the stabilizer in, was wearing wet cotton gloves and the hook fliped onto my glove, having grown up milking cows, I had a good grip and was able to pull the hook from my glove using my thumb and forefinger, braced my arms on my legs because of the pull of the long line with a boat pulling on it's end wanted to take me overboard, Skipper hollered at me not to let the hook go, was holding it between my thumb and for finger by the shank, let her go and was hooked again, repeated the steps but took my now free hand out of range and turned the hook loose again making sure I was holding it so it would not flip when released. This all happened before the Skipper could get there with a knife, learned something about hook behavior under tension and a quick release. That was the last time we ran with the stabilizers out, they only went out with our trolling gear or while at anchor. Just one of many lessons learned the hard way at sea

jud :huh::pirate41:

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No, those heavy duty wet cotton gloves caught the hook, and kept it from penetrating through, the barbs never caught a thread, did start wearing a sheath knife outside of my rain gear, let it rust but kept it sharp, didn't want any oil on our gear so no oil on my knife, fish can detect such things. Thanks for asking.

jud

Edited by jud

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Hey Jud

 

Good to hear!  Whenever I hear stories about what fishermen endure, it makes me appreciate my fish and chips a little bit more!

 

All the best.

 

Cheers

 

Patrick

Edited by Omega1234

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Jud,

 

People do not realize how dangerous commercial fishing is, there but for the grace of god you were lucky you were not pulled over the side. It happens in a blink of the eye.  

 

Tell us more.

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Oh can we make this a "lunatics around Alderney" subsection!!

 

For those who are not familiar - the waters around Alderney are NASTY very very fast tides with a weird bottom means,at times, the sea stands on end.

 

i had sailed in the area though so many times that I thought I had it all sussed.

Trip across the Channel from Cowes in thick fog - diverted to Cherbourg because of visibility (and  there was a handy liner passed close to give me a clue ( long before GPS ) !)

 

Two days later having done the Moules and the bonded stores was bored - came down the hill to the prt and it was clear at last - checked weather quickly and off we went heading west.

 

Just passed the atomic station On Cap Cherbourg and down came the fog again.

 

Not a problem - escape route - turn north and go back to UK. 

 

But thought I would just go on "for abit"  - no wind and the tide was a bit against us so every slow. 

Then it started to get dark - no problem socking big light house on Alderney .nice loud foghorn and a good bearing on the airstrip rado beacon

 

Go On "  just a bit longer"  - two crew forrard  to keep good look out. Fog got thicker -light invisible g but could hear the horn.

 

No this is stupid I thought - just as the cry came " rocks and breakers a head !!  **** but no problem - turned due north to open seas.

 

"Rocks ahead !"   !!!!!!!!!!!  so  turn round further to the north east  "Rocks ahead !"   !!!!!!!!!!!**

 

Then a light   - no not a light house a teeny light on a pole on the rocks amidst the breakers ! blinking

 

 What the F..  quick check on the blink pattern .

 

THANKS BE - its the port harbour entrance only visible at aboutt 100 yards through the fog.  Turned the corner and put down the hook couldnt see the harbour or anything   - broke out the mainbrace !

 

Really how NOT to navigate in fog - if the tide had been a fraction different I could so easily have been wrecked.

 

Learnt my lesson  - never do the "just a bit longer" kick ever again!!

 

If you look at KeithAugs pic you can see the light house at the top left and I had run into the rocks and bays you can see just above the harbour entrance!

Edited by SpyGlass

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Dear Spyglass,

 

The trip I am describing was in 1983. We had chartered a Rival 38 which had a defective log. We did have a radio direction finder but this seemed to give spurious results. Fortunately no fog so we managed ok.

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Funny I was in a Rival too I think

I learnt a LOT round the Channel Islands.

 

I sailed, as I think i have said before, in the middle and late 60s as a volunteer skipper on Equinoxe  a Pilot Cutter with the Ocean Youth Club.   The standard trip was Lymington Cherbourg Alderney Guernsey and home.

 

But i sailed all sorts there from the mini Eboat racer up to Second Life - Ocean 71 which is the biggest thing I have ever skippered - spot of embarrassment trying to do a three point turn in the inner harbour which was only about 6ft wider !

 

Talking Rivals - lovely seaboats built like tanks but they were frequently embarrasing class for me  - i was navigating on one when we sank in Guernsey marina  ( well sat onto the bottom of the marina) because the skipper had forgotten about turning down the greaser of the stern gland regularly.

 

SO WHEN I Chartered her sister ship later in the season I gave strict instructions to a nominated crew member that he was to turn the tap in the side locker half a turn every morning.

 

Lovely trip into St Malo (- the tides there are a different tale - highest in the world I think 13 metresWOW .)

 

Anyway ready for run up back to UK  - set off in  a lovely evening with no real wind, puttering away out as we cleared the rather nasty channel( yes Rocks again)

 

And the engine dies!!  No wind, darkness descending and a lot of big traffic !!

 

Skipper solution spings to brain - check depth (add 13 metres)  flake out anchor get spare lines onto the chain  , paddle with the dinghy oars to leeward of a large buoy and put down the hook and wait.

Worrying about dragging , was a ferry going to wash us off position. What had gone wrong wth the engine??

 

But eventually settled down to rest BUT it was a BELL BOUY - you have no idea how loud they are close up and how long a night can be Bongggggg Bonggggg!!

 

Came the dawn and a light onshore breeze and we ran in under foresail to the little marina just outside the lock.

 

Got the engineer out to look at the engine - he was very puzzled just as we were. 

Then the grizzled foreman came - took one look and literally fell ontothe quay side laughing 

 

The Rival did indeed in the side locker have a tap which forced grease into the stern gland  - but on the other side it had a similar tap - for the fuel line !  Cost about £50 when that was real money just to amuse Les Francaise !

Edited by SpyGlass

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