We Are Sailing, We Are Say-are-ling

Been reading with much interest some articles on Steem re sharks and whales. I had no idea what these critters were in crypto vernacular until very recently.

Got me thinking, about another time, another space...

'Twas a lovely day to be steaming off. The sun was up and shining bright and warm, and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Even the wind had eased off so the sea was flat calm, except for the ominous 6 foot ground swell. Still, almost perfect conditions so my fishing skipper buddy and neighbour Cliff Barnes and I were eager to get to the fishing grounds.

In late Autumn, pickings are lean so, once we'd cleared the headland marking the entrance to Houhora Harbour, we sighted North Cape and steamed in that general direction.

Even the local pod of dolphins seemed to be happy, as they splashed and played around us. Look, the fins of a couple of blue sharks, and wow, over there the telltale sign of a rare southern right whale; the fluke rotating as the whale spun around on the hard silica sand bottom to scrap off the barnacles around the blowhole.

As we neared North Cape, the local marine birds were sitting on the surface of the water. Not enough wind to sustain their flight, to keep them in the air without too much effort. Hmm, ground swell and sitting birds. Ominous signs.

I finished baiting up the 1500 hooks or so for the 5 mile landline we were about to set. Just as I was about to get up out of the rear cockpit to get the first downline and buoy, crack!

"What was that!!", Cliff and I said in unison. With the engine now racing, and the fishing vessel no longer making way, we headed for the engine compartment. Cliff stuck his head in and said to me: "Put your hand in the bilge and see what you can find". Since he's the skip, and I don't walk on water that well, I obliged. Yuck, stinky bilge water that'll take a week or so to get off my hand and arm. Got it! Got what's left of it!

Cliff had a look at what I'd found and shook his head.

"Time for the survival kit", he said. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his kit and went to work.

So what had happened, you may ask? Simple, the propeller shaft connects to the engine via a mounting. In the propeller is a shaft key that slots into the mounting. If the key breaks, there is no torque, hence no shaft movement.

We were adrift about 5 nautical miles due south of North Cape. The wind had picked up, an offshore breeze from the west. The birds were now in flight and the sea was getting choppy. Nearest landfall: Chile!

I found the drogue and cast that out aft, then walked around to the bow and cleated her in. At least we'll have some comfort.

"Got it", yells out Cliff about half an hour later, then he starts the engine and engages the gears. Chug-chug-chug, oh what a wonderful sound!

I dived for'ard and pulled up the drogue. Cliff steered south; time to head home at half a knot! Just when we thought we'd have a 20 hour journey to get home in deteriorating conditions, we sighted our friend Bear in the distance steaming north in his trailer sailer.

Oh what a relief, a tow home!

Survival kit, you might ask, what could that be? Well, that's really a secret. I'll whisper that one to you, just in case you may know Cliff: ((a piece of string, a rubber band, and a nail)).

We are sailing, we are say-are-ling...

Ian Ballantine
Wellington, New Zealand
Fishing Skipper (in the '80s)

Comments 2

Awsome, this was a great story, special as it ended good. Thanks for sharing this with us. .......adrift about 5 nautical miles due south of North Cape...well what more to say then, recommand people to read this one. Upvote ofcause!

03.10.2019 01:31

hey Sig, thanks for the kind words and upvote. yes, got home safe that day. just goes to show, be prepared 'cos you never know. often, when things are going sooo well, something so simple as a broken key can cause a lot of grief.

03.10.2019 02:03