Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 1: Voyage to Fatu Hiva page 13 of 109

During the blackness of night I could not escape nightmarish portents of one of us loosing balance and falling overboard. In fact, this was perhaps the greatest danger we faced. The person sleeping belowdecks would not have noticed the helmsman's absence for perhaps hours, and by then a recovery would have been most unlikely. We had heard of seafaring couples reining themselves together with a cord, and this no longer seemed ludicrous. Suka lacked a pushpit (a railing aft), so I felt especially vulnerable whenever I had to leave the cockpit and crawl aft to adjust the trim of the self-steering wind-vane.

So at dawn the next day I began contriving the necessary safety implements. First, I fastened side-lines from the mizzen shrouds to the corresponding taffrail aft. Then I modified our fore-and-aft jack lines into a system that we would use throughout the voyage, with various modifications. This consisted of a 1/2 inch diameter line leading along the center-line of the cabin top, and secured at the bowsprit, the main and mizzen masts, and at a heavy padeye on the afterdeck. A second and identical line paralleled the first, one foot away and on the opposite side of both masts. With safety harness shackled to the appropriate jack line, a crew member could now move safely the full length of the vessel, re-clipping around the knots.

Each of our safety harnesses comprised a four-inch wide belt made fast around the waist. Rock climbers called this a "swami belt." Using girth-hitches, we attached to the belt a thirty-inch doubled pennant of 1" nylon webbing. At the pennant's distant end we clipped a carabiner. Actually, we attached two such pennants (what we referred to as "quick-draws") to our belts. The carabiners quickly secured the person emerging from belowdecks, to one of the jack lines. And unlike the system commonly used by other sailors, I had designed our tight, inboard jack lines and short quick-draws to prevent the wearer going by the board and falling into the sea. This feature obviated the need to wear a chest harness, which is designed to keep the hapless swimmer's head above water while being dragged through the water at speed. And unlike the chest harness, the swami belt is secured snugly around the torso's smallest section, so it would not slide inadvertently over the uplifted arms and wrench free of the wearer's body. Additionally, onto each of our swami belts Jenny sewed a scabbard that held a razor-sharp, single-blade folding knife, attached to the belt with a long lanyard tucked away into the pouch.

“See, you didn't catch me sleeping on watch last night, did you?”

As a final precaution I paid out a hundred feet of line astern, and secured it to an afterdeck padeye. In theory, should one of us fall overboard unnoticed by the other, the trailing line would offer one last hope. The line's drag was considerable, but we compensated, in part, by setting more sail. And we would deploy the trailing line only at night, and only for a week until we grew more accustomed to the boat's forceful lurching.

The wind abated to the point where, under full press of canvas, the ketch lugged ahead at a mere two-and-half knots. Taking advantage of the pleasant respite, Jenny busied herself belowdecks with sorting and stowing the remaining provisions boxed loosely. As yet she was unsteady on her feet, so after each half-hour's work she would need to "surface for air," emerging from the companionway for an absorbing gaze at the horizon, to regain equilibrium.

We enjoyed a comfortable night. And once again around midnight I climbed topsides to relieve the watchkeeper, only to find her fast asleep. Quietly, I asked how things were going. Then in a medium tone. And again louder. Still she slept. Finally I had to actually shake her awake. "Some watchkeeping," I sighed. The following morning she commented, "See, you didn't even catch me sleeping last night, did you?"

The story has 109 pages. This is page 13.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
> GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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