Sailing (well, motoring) aboard the topsail schooner Bel Espoir II from Halifax to St-Pierre et Miquelon in 1983. It was cold and bumpy so I was alone on deck, everyone else being snugged down somewhere below. We had two dogs on board and one had chosen a halyard flaked out on deck to dump on. Ah-ha, thought I, I’ll just bend this 40 foot piece of line to this 5 gallon bucket, attach it to this turnbuckle in case I lose my grip, and away we go. How clever am I! My brain tapped me on the shoulder and asked quietly if it was a good idea to be standing in the bight, with the line leading from the turnbuckle, behind my back and over the side, but I was too busy being clever.
Over the side went the bucket. It immediately caught a wave top, ripped out of my hands and dove under the hull. I was slammed up against the bulwarks and for the life of me could not budge the line now running across by back. The rope was streamed away at a 30 degree angle down the hull and since we were doing 8 or 10 knots there was no possibility of me hauling it back aboard. The line was as hard as a hickory stick.
I had my trusty knife but was hesitant to use it, mostly out of fear of how I would explain to the captain how the line and bucket came to be wrapped around the prop.
Fortunately, every minute or so, the bucket would come up to the water’s surface for a half second but only to dive again. On each of these moments the line would go slack enough for me to eek it up my back until it was just below my neck. One final bob and it was off but still under the boat. To get it back aboard I rigged a loop around the line and walked aft to where I could pull the bucket straight up instead of forward against the force of the water. For quick reference I've compiled a list of stupidities:
-Don’t stand in a bight (duh, boating 101)
-Don’t use too long a line
-Don’t be young and too proud to call out (part one solved)
-Don’t be clever
-Listen to the little voice (but not the one telling you to disembowel the PB skipper)
The final stupidity was not getting the brand name of that bucket whose handle did not rip out under the force; it looked like any old dollar-store bucket.
Please add any stupidity you've noticed that I'm still in denial about.
I've got other stories but (blush...flutter) we hardly know each other.
Last edited by FifeRail; 09-22-2010 at 12:39 PM.