So here’s a little ditty about our latest adventure. We had a great three day break over the Labor Day weekend, rafted up with friends, their kids and our kids getting on like magic and beautiful weather. The wind did pick up on the 2nd night to about 25 knots but our new Rocna 25 anchor held us both well.
On the Monday afternoon after our friends had departed we finished up our lunch and packed everything away to sail back to the marina. The wind had picked up again and as we checked out the scenery one last time we noticed a 38ft sailing yacht which had lost all the sheets of it’s headsail, the ropes doing a merry dance, it’s sail flapping wildly and four souls on board waving their arms madly giving the international signal for help (as seen in the movie, Team America.) The boat was underway, spinning around and travelling sideways in a direct line towards many other boats on moorings in The Basin, but was however at this point still a ways off hitting anyone. Being a long weekend, The Basin was full of yachts, swimmers and boats underway and this little yacht was on track to take them all out but sideways.
As usual, The Skipper’s reflexes worked well and within seconds he yelled out his commands, “quick, put the tender back in!” It was like a movie version of the second half of our favourite children’s book “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” where the family go back through the scary woods with a bear on their tail.. Take the surf board back off the davit, take the inflatable back off, release the breaks, ease the tender back into the water, release the ropes.. and he was off! All I could do was grab the binoculars and watch. Wish I’d thought to pick up the camera. They were a bit of a way off so I don’t know that I would have gotten a good shot anyway.
When he got there he asked them “what’s wrong, why can’t you sail it?” and they answered “because we don’t know how to sail!” So he said “put the anchor in!” and they said “we don’t know how to put the anchor in!” so he tied up the tender, jumped on board and furled their headsail out of the way which was still flapping out of control in order to access the anchor without losing his head. By the time he had it furled however, he thought he would have a look at anchoring but they were getting frighteningly close to the other yachts, and no one else was helping despite their obvious distress and the large amount of traffic. The Skipper asked for another rope to tie up the tender to the bow, but they didn’t know where their docking lines were so he grabbed a rope he found from under the cockpit seat, got back in the tender, tied up to the bow and held on to the other end of the rope as there was nowhere safe to tie it up in the tender.
With the tender in full reverse that little boat that could slowly backed up with a head wind. On the way their little sailboat got closer to another boat on a mooring with an old couple on board (sitting there quietly watching the whole affair) and the bows touched. This made them get up out of their seats and start to help to fend off, why they didn’t think it important to get fenders out to protect their own yacht way before that I’ll never understand as I could clearly see they were going to hit from where I was standing and me yelling across the Basin for them to GET UP wasn’t helping, guess they couldn’t hear me.
The Skipper kept the tender in reverse and slowly pulled them backwards. Lucky we have a 15hp engine and not the old 5hp we used to have. It was hard going against the wind but he pulled that boat to safety, managed to pick up the rope of a nearby mooring with his other hand and secured the rope through, handing the other end them. Of course they didn’t know how to tie it up so he had to do it himself. He went on board and offered to help start the engine, and given the hints he asked if this was their boat at which point they told him it was a hire boat and everything fell into place. He went down below to check the engine and saw the volt meter was reading 11v – they’d run the battery flat. With that little power they were unable to start the engine and given it was a hire boat he advised them to get the hire company to come out and fix it for them, and left them there to wait it out.
I’m sure they have a great story to tell but it infuriates me how many boats were in danger, how many people, including The Skipper who’s got a really sore arm today, and it all could have been avoided. There are some monkey’s out there, and we are finding many of them on The Pittwater.