May 18, 2010

Slow boat to nowhere

Warner Ferguson (73) commodore of Cairns Yacht Club in Australia wants to create a world sailing record. He wants to be the oldest person to sail around the world non-stop, alone, and unassisted.

What makes his plan even more special is that Commodore Ferguson wants to do the trip in the very yacht used by Jessica Watson, the 16-year-girl who holds the record as the youngest non-stop solo circumnavigator.

I can just imagine Mr. Ferguson being interviewed in mid-passage by Dan Rather-Knot, of the Sailing Channel:

DR-K: What condition was the boat in when you got her?
WF: What’s that? Speak up, please I’m a little ...”
DR-K: Was she in good order?
WF: Yes, but she was only 16 you know.
DR-K: Not Jessica. The boat.
WF: Oh. I had to paint her. She was pink all over.
DR-K: The boat?
WF: Yes, the boat. Everything pink. Inside, outside, pink. Even the head was pink. Pink is for girls. I painted her blue.
DR-K: Was anything left on board after Jessica’s seven-month epic voyage?
WF: Deodorant bottles. Hair grips clogging the plumbing. Pink toenail varnish spilled over the chart table ... oh, and the boat turned left every time I wanted to go right.
DR-K: She varnished her toes on the chart table?
WF: ’Scuse me one moment, I need a pee ... Okay, I’m back. Where were we?
DR-K: Did anything surprise you?
WF: Yes, no dirty dishes in the sink — a miracle. No dirty socks under the mattress — another miracle. Little bags full of chocolate hidden everywhere. She obviously didn’t find them all. A toy elephant stuffed up the ventilator.
DR-K: How is the sailing going?
WF: Very nice.
DR-K; People are asking why you’re towing a parachute anchor behind you.
WF: To slow me down.
DR-K: But you’re going for the record.
WF: It’s the age record. The older I am when I finish, the better my record will be. So the slower I go now, the older I’ll be at the end.
DR-K: How long have you been going?
WF: I started when I was 73. I’m now 75. I should be 77 when I finish. But I can slow down more if necessary.
DR-K: Yes, I hear there’s an 80-year-old Japanese man setting out.
WF: Yes, but his eyesight’s not too good. With any luck he’ll run into an island and sink.
DR-K: Boy, that’s fighting talk. This is a tough competition.
WF: Yup, it takes guts to do this. Getting old is not for wimps. When you’re 16 it’s easy. You can hear and you can see and you don’t have to get out of bed to pee every 15 minutes. When you’re my age you suffer much more.
DR-K: What’s your most earnest wish?
WF: I’d like to finish just before I die, but not too long before. It’s tricky. If I die first, I don’t get the record. That stupid 80-year-old will get it.
DR-K: If he misses the islands.
WF: I’m praying he won’t. I don’t want to be beaten by an old fart of an 80-year-old.
DR-K: Er, yes, well, thank you for speaking with us, Mr. Ferguson. We wish you well. Travel safe and slow.
WF: What’s that? Safe and what? Hang on, need to go ... I’ll be back ...

Today’s Thought
Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.
— Maurice Chevalier

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #53
Diesel exhausts (3). White smoke. This is usually water vapor from contaminated fuel, a water leak into a cylinder, or atomized but completely unburned fuel. Air in the fuel can also cause white smoke.

“I want a nice fancy bra for my wife.”
“What bust?”
“Nothing. The old one wore out.”


Chris Harris said...

I hope Mr. Ferguson decides not to attempt it because that title belongs to one of my sailing heroes whom I've had the pleasure of meeting. Minoru Saito made the non-stop solo record at age 71. Currently, he's on his eighth solo circumnavigation at age 76. He couldn't break his own record because he was forced to land in Chile by the Chilean Navy. At any rate, he just crossed the equator on his way back to Yokohama. God speed to him. At my desk, I hung a framed signed photo of him beating to windward with Table Mountain in the background. Everytime I look at it, I always think of another one of my sailing heroes John Vigor. Thanks John for brightening my day with your blog.

John Vigor said...

Thanks for drawing my attention to Minoru Saito, Chris. He is one of several outstanding Japanese sailors who have not received much publicity in the West over the years even though the Guinness Book of Records is full of him. If you Google his name you'll find plenty ro read about.

John V.

Anonymous said...

Good morning Mr Vigor

Thank you for your terrific comments posted here which my children found and urged me to read(excuse me I'll be back in a moment)...that'better!
I too have the highest respect and gigantic regard for Minoru Saito who sailed around Australia in 1988
and is well remembered in this country.
He records that, during one of his last voyages he ran out of whisky just ten days out of Yokohama
(where he holds legendary status)...this was his most terrifying moment(he subsequently found one more bottle and sundowners were OK!)
This helps me with my Chardonnay planning!

Thank you Mr Chris Harris, I will treat my attempt with the utmost respect for all who have sailed before, particularly Saito San.

I of course have a time limit and also hold a total passion for life.

Thank you for being interested

Warner Ferguson
Commodore Cairns Yacht Club

John Vigor said...

G'day Warner:

I am totally amazed to hear from you. I thought I was safe, honest, I mean being thousands of miles away, like. Never dreamed you'd actually read what Dan Rather-Knot said about you. The guy has no bloody respect, I tell you.

I wish you well in your quest and I salute your wonderful sense of humour. And by the way, you're not the only one who has to excuse himself now and then. Don't ask how I know.

More power to your elbow, cobber, and don't spare the Chardonnay.


John V.