Hi Girls & Guys:
While noodling around as my friend Mike Aitken calls playing on the computer, I found 8 more blurbs from the summer of 2012! The Ding Dang Doodle blurb came after this one but this is how I found them! Hope you enjoy?
Our stay on Block Island was coming to an end. Our next visit would be after labor day with no Aldo’s Bakery boat to greet us with “Andiamo” at 0730. Having fresh coffee, sticky buns and other great pastry delivered to your boat daily is a big plus while you are relaxing on Block Island, but the relaxing is over there is much work to be done in preparing the Tern for the trek south. On Monday my physical therapist will work on my shoulder. The I start to work on the Tern, little did I know when I left Block Island that I was in for more work!
All of you water people know the helpless feeling of not being able to steer your boat, well my worst fear on the water happened while leaving Block Island. Shortly after rounding the sea bouy marking the sand spit at the north end of the island the Tern’s autopilot started beeping saying we were off course. The tide roars like a brook in this area so I thought the current was taking us off course! I pressed the standby button to be able to steer her by hand. She did not answer the helm. To make matters worse two days before I re-injured my shoulder while body surfing. At that point I had to figure something out to keep from going up on the shoal, not a good situation first thing in the morning good thing I had gotten my coffee from Aldo prior to weighing anchor! I put my thinking cap and tried to figure out how to sail without a rudder. It would be like trying to steer your car without a steering wheel. It is not hard if you are on a bulldozer which does not have a steering wheel instead it uses brakes to stop one track or the other thus steering the behemoth. The same principle can be used on a sail boat by trailing a sea anchor or 5 galloon buckets and even warps (lines) astern of the boat. Fortunately for me the Tern has a long cast iron keel and with the centerboard down and the staysail set I was able to sail downwind at a knot (nautical mile) per hour. This helped steady her until the towboatus arrived. The first tow boat operator was from Point Judith RI, very professional and courteous! His boat and equipment were first class! The twenty nautical mile tow to the safe water bouy at the Sakonnet River entrance was accomplished in moderate seas. The tow boat operator told me along the way via radio that he dreaded coming out to tow a seventy four year old wooden boat without a rudder. In order to facilitate a safe easy tow I set the staysail sheeted tight and kept the centerboard down. The rudder was floating amidships and the Tern’s long cast iron keel made the tow a dream tow. He marveled at how nice she towed without a rudder. At the Sakonnet river he has to hand me off to the Westport tow boat. I had asked him to tow me all the way to Westport as I knew the Wesport operator and had no faith in him as a couple of years ago he came very close to severing my hand during a tow. He said company policy is he has to hand me over!
I was handed over to the Tow Boat US captain from Westport. This handover necessitated removing the bridle and installing the new one. Well the new bridle was anything but new. It was haphazard and twisted with no swivel. I was glad we were inside and the sea was much calmer but things were to get worse. The Point Judith captain told the Westport operator that I had a bad shoulder. The short tow to the river was accomplished without incident but once inside the Westport River things heated up! I noticed the Westport Harbormaster following us. When the tow boat captain (he has paper saying that he is a captain) tried to bring me alongside a mooring ball he could not do it. He put his deckhand on the harbormaster’s boat with instructions to board the Tern. I do not nor will I ever let strangers on board my boat. There was absolutely no need for assistance on the Tern just get me close enough to the mooring ball so I can pick it up. He was unable to do that simple task. I was not too concerned as we were in the river. I did think to myself this guy could be dangerous in a seaway! At that point I asked the harbormaster to pick the mooring ball up put a line through it and throw it to me. The tow boat operator started yelling at the harbormaster not to give me the mooring ball. The harbormaster told him to shut up and not to yell at him then passed me the line. At this point I became the focus of his wrath. He told me I was injured and his deckhand had to come aboard to help me. I had watched her during the hook up and knew she was totally as incompetent as him. When I told him I was on the mooring he berated me for creating a ruse. At this point I told him to shut up and fill out the paper work and get away from me. He then tried to tie his boat to the Tern around a stanchion (life line). I stopped him and instructed him to hand me the line and I would secure it, which I did to the sampson post! Then he started yelling that he was the captain in charge of this tow. I refused to talk further, and went below to get my diving gear. Once the paper work was finished he told me where to sign which I did. Of course I signed a disclaimer saying that any damage would not be his fault, even if he was negligent. I thank my lucky stars this had happened in the river with witnesses (harbormaster). The tow was paid for by my insurance company but I do intend to notify them of this incompetent operator as well as the US Coast Guard. In the end he welcomed me to the Westport River. This man needs help and he will not get it from me! If allowed to operate a tow boat he will hurt someone sooner or later and he can not be blamed for negligence. “What a Country”
After a quick dive I ascertained the hinges had broke at the rudder post. Hopefully this will be a quick fix but will know more when she is out of the water! So much for being rudderless! I have thrown in a hodge podge of pics. Hope you enjoy the story and the pics? Will keep you updated on the rudder fix!
Ciao! For now,