When I hear of these mishaps, I am reminded of one of the great benefits of the old-fashioned cruising yacht with its full keel and attached rudder: the fact that it will ride over a net, or a large clump of weed, and not get tangled with it.
A few years ago I was returning under power to my home port at night in my 27-foot Cape Dory, a very traditional Carl Alberg design. With only a mile to go, I discovered to my astonishment and dismay that the entrance to my marina was totally blockaded by a dozen or more fishing boats with long floating nets strung out. Apparently, the September salmon run had begun.
I was tired after having had to motor all day, and keen to get home after a long singlehanded cruise. I was also angry at the arrogance of fishermen who presumed they could disrupt other traffic when and where they wanted.
Their nets were badly lit and there was no way to tell how they lay in the water. So I thought “To hell with it,” and I kept steaming straight toward them. My arrival caused no little excitement among the fishing boats. Bright lights started flashing at me and loud shouts of concern came floating over the water. I don’t doubt they were busy on the VHF, too, but I wasn’t switched on. I didn’t care.
That good old Cape Dory rode over all their nets under power at 5 knots, dragging her 10-foot fiberglass dinghy behind her. No nets got caught up on the keel. No nets got tangled in the propeller. No harm was done to anybody or any thing. When I passed the last fishing boat and they turned a searchlight on me, I’m afraid I stood up and gave them the stiff finger. It made me feel a lot better.
God knows how long I’d have been hove to outside my home port, waiting for that band of brigands to haul their nets and clear a path, if I’d been in one of today’s sailboat designs, with a fin keel, detached rudder, and exposed propeller. Sailboat design has moved on in many ways, but there is still a lot to be said for the old-fashioned full keel. And the ability to face fishing nets with impunity and give fishermen heart attacks isn’t the end of it.
What we call “Progress” is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.— Havelock Ellis, Impressions and Comments
Tailpiece“Johnny, did you give your goldfish some fresh water?’
“No Mom, they haven’t finished the water I gave them last week.”
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