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Indrek Lepson

 

See seiklus toimus aastal 1978. Proovin selgitada mõningaid merendussõnasid, et "maarahvale" anda parem ettekujutus toimunust.


Trim tab on pisikene eraldi rool, millega saab väikesi kursimuudatusi teha ilma pearooli liigutamiseta. Selle jaoks on eraldi väike rooliratas.
Snatch block, nn jalaplokk, on plokk, mis käib küljelt lahti, mille kaudu saab köie saata teise suunda.
Jenny (genoa) - suur fokkpuri.  Winch - vints.
Cockpit - kokpit, koht ahtris, kus on rooliratas ja vintsid.
Halyard - vall (?), millega purjed tõmmakse üles.
Trades (tradewinds) - passaattuuled.
Watch - käekell ja vaht (mitte mullid).
Bells - kellalöök. Vanasti jagati merel aega poole tunni kaupa. Nt alates 12, üks löök on pool üks, kaks lööki on kell üks, kolm lööki on pool kaks, neli lööki on kell kaks, jne kuni kaheksa lööki, mis on kell neli, kaheksa või kaksteist. Lihtne, kas väljas on valge või pime, tead mis kell on.​
Quartering wind on põntsatuul, purjetamiseks kõige parem tuule suund, see on poolest saadik tagant ja paadi keskme vahel.
Sheeting, sheet on soot. Sheeting on soodiga purje timmimine, kas lased purje kaugemale välja või tõmbad lähemale, sõltuvalt tuule suunast ja kursist.
Kui keegi on "three sheets to the wind", siis ta on purjus.


​Kirjutasin selle loo vist 30 aastat tagasi.

 

* * *

 

..and the wheel's kick, and the whale's song, and a star to steer her by. (John Masefield)

 

HALEAKALA was a 68' cutter that I delivered from Honolulu to San Diego in December, 1978. Considering the dilapidated condition that the boat was in, I'm surprised that she didn't break apart.

 

There is a saying that God looks after fools and sailors. I qualify for both.


She was a rotten boat – literally.

 

I had no idea how rotten when I contracted to deliver her to San Diego for the owner.

 

She was fiberglass, balsa core, and had been condemned, because she was delaminating.

 

Core samples had been taken by the insurers, and the policy on her had been cancelled.

 

I was not told of that, but it was common knowledge in the waterfront and Pete's boatyard at Ala-Wai, in Honolulu.

 

I found out later that bets had been made whether I would make it.

 

They knew, but did not tell me.

 

With a crew of two, and a cook, I cast off and set sail.

 

A day out the main steering cable broke, and I brought her back using the trim tab.

 

Only a sailor would know the terror of zigzagging up the Ala-Wai channel, basically out of control, having a man on the bow yelling to boaters to get out of the way.

 

I did manage to make fast to a dock without mishap (skillful seamanship!!!) and made repairs. Next morning, with a new stainless steering cable, once again we set sail.

 

A few days out the starboard jenny winch blew apart, and with a Rube Goldberg arrangement using snatch blocks for fair leads, and cam cleats for stoppers, (a sailor will understand all this) used the port cockpit winch for sheeting.

 

Then the halyard winch went kaput, and I rigged up more fair leads to the one functioning winch aft to hoist and lower the main.

 

For some reason, she had more snatch blocks than any boat that I have sailed on, and we used them all.

 

Sailboats need wind. There is a "great Pacific high", an area of calms that sailboats have to avoid in order to get to the trades.

 

Sailing West, sailboats go South, under the high pressure region to get the prevailing trades.

 

Going East, we have to go North, to catch the Easterlies.

 

The "high" is a vast area of calms, that powerboats seek, and head in a straight line to their West coast destination, and sailboats avoid.

 

Due to some meteorological reason, this time the high was a lot further North than expected.

 

We were nearly in the San Francisco latitudes, heading East, when "it" hit us.

 

A gale bordering on a hurricane.

 

It blew, oh how it blew.

 

And it was cold, so awfully cold.

 

We had just celebrated Christmas the day before.

 

It was winter in the North Pacific.

 

What was I thinking, not being prepared for this kind of weather?

 

South is SOUTH, which is warm, and North is NORTH!!, which means cold in the winter. 

 

It was a fierce, dry winter storm. A clear sky, freezing cold.

 

The boat had a stainless steel wheel - no spokes, just a round wheel, and in the freezing temperature, it was a bitch to hold, as we had no gloves.

 

The seas became mountainous – enormous greybeards breaking all around us, thundering past.

 

We were shortened down to a tiny storm stay sail, the main was cranked down to a small triangle (we had roller reefing), and we were doing eleven knots-ELEVEN FREAKING KNOTS!

 

Running dead for it.

 

That's over 13 miles per hour, under storm rig.

 

As the sun set, the storm increased its intensity.

 

The electronics crapped out, so we had no way of knowing how hard it blew, but I guessed near hurricane strength, and not a cloud in the sky.

 

Just pure fury. I took the graveyard watch (12-4), and when I came on deck, I was startled by the brilliance of our surroundings.

 

It was a full moon, the sky was jet black with brilliant stars studding the blackness, and a blinding brightness, as if from high intensity lights, lit up the scene.

 

It was freezing cold, and it was hard to hold the wheel as it was slippery with salt and frost.

 

We were cleaving through the seas as if on a surfboard.

 

When a following wave caught us, we were surfing with the crest.

 

I have no idea how fast, as the speedometer needle was fast on the pin, and the maximum on it was twelve.

 

We exceeded hull speed for sure, (hull speed is the maximum speed that a vessel can move through the water before she starts to break the slippage of water along the hull), as we were shaking violently during these spurts.

 

Then as the crest passed us, we squatted down into the trough, waiting for the next ride. It was exhilarating, and terrifying.

 

We had a speaker in the cockpit, and a tape deck below.

 

When I came on watch, I tucked Vivaldi's Four Seasons into the slot.

 

A freezing, brilliantly lit night, Vivaldi mingling with the sounds of the fury around us, and mingling with the thunder from the cresting seas, blinding white in the moon light, and a mournful moaning from aloft, as if the weather gods were playing a tune with the rigging. 

 

It's difficult to des-cribe. One has to experience it.

 

Then the dolphins came. Suddenly. I just happened to look at a breaking crest when four grey torpedoes leaped out of the black foam-laced sea, glistening in the bright light, arced gracefully, and disappeared into the back of the towering sea, (wave) to emerge moments later just below the breaking crest, and with a barely audible snort from their blowholes, disappear again into the next sea.

 

They were the forward scouts, as soon, there was a battalion of dolphins all around us.

 

Throughout most of my watch they entertained me, and I was barely conscious of the freezing cold, as I was mesmerized by the show that played all around me, of which we were part. How long the show lasted I don't recall, but at one point there must have been hundreds jockeying for space, and I felt as if being on a toy boat in a herring seine.

 

Then, with a staccato of snorts, they were gone, as abruptly as they had arrived.

 

Again I became aware of the cold, and started to shiver, urging the watch to move faster, so that I could escape to the comfort of my bunk.

 

It was almost as cold below decks, but there was no wind, it was quiet, and I would soon be warm.

 

After what seemed to be a half an hour, I looked at my watch again, and only five minutes had passed.

 

Slowly, oh so slowly, eight bells (four AM) sounded, and I was relieved by the next watch, who should have been on deck at least ten minutes earlier, but in this weather, not a minute of one's comfort was sacrificed.

 

After giving him the course, and talking for a few minutes about the preceding events, I took a turn around the deck to make sure that everything was shipshape, then went below, lit the alcohol stove and boiled some water, and made some boullion for the helmsman, who was shaking violently in the cold.

 

He muttered his gratitude, grabbed the mug with stiff fingers, and greedily slurped the scalding liquid.

 

If it burned his mouth, he didn't show it.

 

I regretted that there were no dolphins around to take his mind off the cold.

 

Fully clothed, I sank into my bunk, pulled a blanket over my head and instantly was asleep.

 

It felt like I had barely closed my eyes, when I was called by the helmsman – he asked if we could make more sail.

 

Brilliant sunlight was streaming through the opened hatch, and the boat was rolling from lack of sufficient wind to steady us under storm rig.

 

I looked at my watch – it was just past seven o'clock.

 

Six bells had struck from the clock over my bunk only moments before, and I heard nothing, but a faint call from the helm woke me.

 

We set the main to three quarters, hoisted a jib and picked up speed, which had dropped to four knots.

 

During the night we had sailed N.E., almost to the latitude of San Francisco, and with a fresh breeze made good Easting.

 

The rising sun warmed us, and our spirits.

 

The cook made breakfast: bacon, eggs, and pancakes, and strong coffee.

 

During mid-morning the wind moderated, and we set the full main and medium genoa.

 

With a quartering wind we were eating up the miles at nine knots, and soon forgot the misery of the preceding night.

 

By late afternoon we got the trades and headed South toward the warm latitudes.

 

The cold was soon forgotten, but never the dance of the dolphins.

 

* * *

 

Koos lühikese peatusega Oxnard'is, Californias, kestis see seiklus 22 päeva.

 

Navigeerimiseks oli merekaart, vajalikud tabelid, üks Veems II plastikust sekstant ja kronomeetriks oli väike taskukalkulaator, milles oli kaks kellaaega GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) navigeerimiseks ja kohalik kellaaeg, milleks pikkuskraadi (Longitude)  kaupa iga ajavööndi (time zone) ületamisel lükkasin kella tund aega tagasi, n-ö “East is least, and West is best”. Selge kui muda.

 

Oli olemas ka nn "ship to shore" raadio.


Plastikust sekstant, mille eest maksin $65 (1978) oli väga täpne, võrreldes mitmesajadollarilise (5-600) professinaalse jaapani või saksa sekstandiga, mis on mul olnud kasutada teistel "seiklustel".

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