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 21 of 109

On the journey's 14th day the rough conditions abated. "Warm, not too windy, and absolutely wonderful," reports the journal.

Our ship's batteries nearly depleted, I installed the trolling generator for the first time. This apparatus consisted of an electric generator housed in a gimballed bracket attached to the afterdeck, and a hundred feet of half-inch line trailing astern and terminated with a propeller. Towed through the water, the whirling propeller spun the generator. In theory this idea had seemed valid; but in practice the trolling line would frequently hockle into an inoperative glob of rope, requiring me to haul aboard the tangled hodgepodge in order to straighten the line.

Flying fish, six to ten inches in length, continually whizzed this way and that, a few inches over the water like errant Frisbees. Our daily allotment was one. When this gift of the sea was not received in the watchkeeper's lap as a tail-buzzing, smelly endowment, it would be found more circumspectly at daybreak lying deceased somewhere on deck. We had not yet come to realize the culinary potential of these dead fish, and once I tossed one to a passing red-footed booby, a type of pelagic seabird. Showing not the slightest appetite for my bestowal, but tracking it like an computerized radar antenna, the bird watched the lifeless fish arc upward toward it, and down into the water with a splash. These birds function largely on instinct, I supposed, and a dead fish catapulting so high - yet so inanimate - did not fit the mold. Or perhaps these birds simply prefer their fish fresh. For after all, the boobies would chase living flying fish continually, and in so doing they provided us with endless entertainment.

Freeing a Line Caught in the Propeller

In a few days the seas calmed considerably, meaning that it was time for the skipper to abandon ship.

Being only fair, I never asked my companion - however brave she always proved herself to be, whatever the task - to do any job that I would not have done myself. And this job certainly fell into that category. So with no little trepidation it was now time for me to clear the ship's propeller. It seemed that during the storm, one end of a jib sheet had worked free and washed through a scupper, and from there it had fouled the slowly free-spinning prop. We had tried to haul the line free by pulling from different angles. We started the engine and nudged the transmission into reverse gear, but this only killed the engine. We even tried winching the line ever so gently so as not to break the prop shaft and possibly sinking the boat. Alas, the task was unavoidable. I had to go overboard, knife in teeth like a pirate, and slash away the fouling line.

I eased the leeward jib sheet and winched in the weather sheet, backwinding the jib and causing Suka to heave-to. This slowed us to one and a half knots. This was still too fast, so we dowsed all sail and lay the ketch to. At this, she stopped dead in the water, pivoted beam on, and began to roll heavily. Moreover, because of the sizable swell running, each passing wave bounced the boat's stern high into the air, then slammed it down with a great splash.

“The prospect of casting myself into the boisterous seas was not appealing.”

The prospect of casting myself into the boisterous seas was not in the least appealing. Aside from the hazards of the waves, I imagined that surely great white sharks were lurking everywhere down there. So after rigging all manner of safety lines, then donning mask and snorkel, I climbed a few steps down a makeshift knotted rope ladder. As the hull splashed down I leaned far over and momentarily plunged my head into the water. An instant later, still clinging to the rope ladder I was elevated high into the air. Having managed a momentary look around underwater, I had not noticed sharks; but I had seen tiny jellyfish by the hundreds.

This was no pleasure swim; that line had to be cut free of the prop. So I donned a pair of flippers and simply jumped overboard.

The clarity of the water was astounding! Looking downward I could see long shafts of sunlight plunging deeply into a fathomless abyss. A ghastly chill ran down my spine. But at least the tiny jellyfish weren't stinging, so pushing aside my emotions I inhaled deeply, submerged, and swam to the prop. Despite the hull's severe motion, clinging to the rudder proved remarkably easy. The line was wrapped many times around the propeller shaft so tight that I could not unwrapped it, so I had to slice through the wraps and I soon had the line cut free.

Resurfacing, I swam around the boat like an astronaut suspended in hyperspace and drifting about his life-sustaining capsule. Scrupulously I inspected the hull as it bounced about, as though suspended in a pellucid, but turbulent cosmos. The hull's fittings appeared sound: the through-hulls, the bobstay stemhead fitting, the sounder transducer and knot-meter paddle-wheel, the propeller, the rudder, and the self-steering brackets were all looking fine. So I climbed back aboard.

The prospect of jumping into those heavy seas had seemed rather appalling, yet contrary to expectations the job had proved ridiculously easy. It was a good lesson, yet again.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 21.
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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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