November 8, 2015

The truth about offshore sailing

IT’S HARD TO EXPLAIN to a landlubber what offshore sailing is all about. But William G. Homewood found a way to do it, after he had raced from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda and back in a Ranger 26.

This is his description, as recorded in Richard Henderson’s book, Choice Yacht Designs:

“First, at home, you should go into the bedroom fully dressed and pour a bucket of water over your head. Put on your foul-weather gear and harness.  Prop up one side of the bed to an angle of 20 degrees, then pour a bucket of water over the pillow and bedding.

“Engage the services of a fork-lift (and operator) who will lift one corner of your house up into the air six feet and then let it drop down with a bang.  He should do this all night long, intermittently, without warning. Now, go to bed.

“After one hour of sleep it will be time to get out of bed, open the sliding door to the balcony, and peer out (checking the sails). At this moment a friend, well hidden, should throw a bucket of water onto the back of your head. Your jacket hood must be in the off position, as this will allow the water to run down your neck. . . .  As  you turn to go back into the bedroom, another well-hidden friend should club you over the head with a two-by-four. This simulates head blows from the  bulkheads. . . .”

There’s more that a landlubber needs to know, of course. You should fill your rubber boots with water and you should remember to throw up only on the lee side of the cockpit. You should preferably practice walking with one leg shorter than the other so as to remain upright on the slanted deck and you should develop arms like a gorilla’s so you can hang on to the handholds when a wave tries to wash you overboard.

You should also practice holding your bladder for at least eight hours because it’s impossible to get a hand on the outlet from your urinary tract when you’ve got a whole bunch of layers of clothing and waterproof pants on.

As for cheerful, sustaining hot meals — um, well, sorry feller. Ain’t gonna happen.

Today’s Thought
We have all sinned and come short of the glory of making ourselves as comfortable as we easily might have done.
— Samuel Butler the Younger, The Way of All Flesh

Adolescence is a period of rapid change. Between the ages of 12 and 17, for instance, a parent can age as much as 20 years.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Mike K said...

Ah yes. I have never been 'offshore' but I have done a number of coastal passage races of around 24 hours duration, some in unpleasant conditions. Cold, hungry, tired and miserable just halfway through the first I swore I would never do another. I could be home in bed for God's sake!! Yet a week later, there I am conducting a post mortem on why we finished halfway down the field and what we needed to improve on when we returned the following year. It's an addiction.

Unknown said...

Comfort is a boring death.