Never Stops On The Sea Of Cortez
By JOHN M. DERBY
March 15, 2018
Winds were about 15 knots as the Flying
Dutchman headed out into the Sea of Cortez for a shakedown
It had a new anchor and a new crew member
who said he had sailed before.
We have found out from experience that “sailed before”
can mean anything from having sat on a sailboat as a passenger
to having actually run the boat.
In this case the new crew member was somewhere in between
with limited experience.
It turned out having him aboard was both a help and a problem.
He had never tied a knot before and he admitted it when
he kept saying, “You had better check the way I tied
Then after telling him to be careful not to allow the jib
halyard to fly to the top of the mast, he said: “Oops,
I think I lost our jib.”
As it turned out, he didn’t lose the jib and the
jib halyard was just floating in air a couple of feet over
his head. We retrieved the line and were underway again.
The next problem had nothing to do with the crew and could
be listed as equipment failure. The new anchor failed to
hold when first dropped. This could have been because of
the anchor, the ocean bed where we were trying to anchor,
or the amount of scope (line) we had on the anchor.
In any case, we found very quickly that if we kept drifting
we would eventually hit the rocks on the peninsula where
we intended to have lunch.
We hoisted anchor and headed out to sea.
Now the real problems started as we heard a loud “crack”
and looked down at the rudder handle which had just split
in two. This wooden rudder handle must have been the original
on the Dutchman when it was made in 1975.
Twenty years in the heat of the Mexican sun had added to
the problem. All we had to steer the boat was the six inch
metal clamps which once held the rudder handle. With the
wind now still climbing, we looked at our options.
There was the auxiliary outboard which could be used in
an emergency but dropping it into the water was a major
job even when the boat was not under sail. One person would
have had to steer the boat while the other tried to drop
the motor and start it. No easy task.
We opted for toughing it out, which meant steering the
boat for a couple of miles in heavy seas until we could
get back to our mooring.
The final test was seeing if our new crew member could
pick up the mooring line as we came up to it with the main
sail still up.
When crew member hooked the mooring line we knew he had
earned his keep and we gave him a big “bravo”
and called for the beer.
As we said there is always great sailing on the Sea of