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post #24 of Old 09-30-2012
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Re: Small boat voyaging

Down at the bottom of the page: Site Map
has an interesting set of links about Tristan Jones, though the rest of his life is pretty interesting too, the Narrative section is a fascinating look at an interesting life.
Some good parts about metalworking too, and a look at a man who was involved in some fascinating exploring and sailing before retiring to a ranch away from the ocean. Especially the post scrip t from the sale of Sea Dart to Tristan, where he talks about meeting the children of the cruisers that were burnt by the choices made, and learning about the tremendous life change that resulted, while he had expected them to have returned to England and prospered as brilliant scientists.

" A Post scrip t: The miracle of the Internet brought Hillary and her children back into communication with me in 1998. I was astounded to learn that due to the problems of selling their boat, and various other complications arising from what Tristan had engineered, Hillary and Neil never were able to return to England. They stayed in Bequia where Neil became a teacher in the local school. They raised their children on and under the sea to become natives of this little island paradise. Their children later did go to England for higher education, so the ending was a beautiful one after all. At the time of this writing Hillary is touring around South Africa with her adult children....the unsinkable Hillary, and Neil continues to work in Beguia. :-)

From his page,
In early March of 1973 Tristan Jones came into my life with a rush. My first glimpse of Tristan occurred one early morning when I was brought to Dart's deck by a big ruckus ashore. High up on the hill, in town, I could see Tristan running down the road toward the bay, as fast as he could go, with the local sail maker right behind him waving a big machete and screaming profanities at him. Apparently Tristan had pulled a fast one on the sail maker and was about to pay for it with his life.

Tristan was fleet of foot, however, and reached the end of the town dock about three steps ahead of the sail maker's machete. Tristan launched off the dock gracefully clearing 20 feet of water before entering the sea in a head long dive. He swam out to "Banjo" and climbed aboard in a fierce temper. He could be heard all over the bay cussing at his two young black crewmen. It has been said that Tristan couldn't swim, but if that's true, his actions are a testament to quick learning in a pressing situation. If Tristan couldn't swim, I think he must have forgotten that fact for a moment.

I got to see Tristan quite often after that. Tristan loved the rum bottle, especially someone else's rum bottle, and would often come back to Banjo in a fierce roaring mood that would get the whole bay up on deck to watch. One such event occurred one afternoon when Tristan returned to the beach after some heavy socializing. He yelled to Banjo for his crew to come in to the beach and pick him up with Banjo's dingy, but received no response. He continued to bello from the shore while his thermostat moved steadily up into the danger zone. Finally he couldn't take it any longer, waded in, and swam out to Banjo, once again forgetting he couldn't swim. When he climbed aboard Banjo he was in an extreme temper, and in a rage, stormed below decks. A few moments later he showed up on deck again with one of the little black boys held high above his head and threw him into the sea. He immediately went below again and brought up the second one repeating the gesture.

When the boys climbed back aboard Banjo, Tristan had not cooled enough yet, and he repeated the treatment, throwing each one back in the sea while yelling profanities at them. The entire bay watched while he went through this ritual. Finally he had cooled enough to go below and crash for the day. It was a demonstration I will not soon forget.

After some time passed, Tristan became aware that I had put Dart up for sale. He hailed me from shore one afternoon, and I went in to get him in Dart's dingy. We spent the afternoon on Dart discussing Dart, and working on the gallon and a half jug of rum I kept on board. That night, Wednesday 13 March, Tristan and I reached agreement on the sale of Dart. That night the bottle of rum also became history.

If I had turned Dart over to Tristan, and departed Bequia at that time, things would have been much better than how things actually worked out. I elected to keep Dart until the 1st of April so that I could sail her one last time down into the Grenadine Islands for a visit. When I returned to complete the deal, and turn Dart over to Tristan, things started to deteriorate. As matters worked out, however, I never did make the trip down through the Grenadine Islands.

To understand my feelings about what happened you need to know about another event that happened during the transition time when Tristan took Dart, and I moved aboard Banjo. Shortly after the sale, I was bitten on the lower right leg by a spider. It turned out to be very poisonous, and soon the wound was a horrible mass of rotting flesh. Nothing I did made any difference. It was getting to the critical point when I decided to take things into my own hands. I sat down in Dart and scraped and cut away the entire rotting mass as best I could. It was on the back of my right calf, so seeing and reaching it was a problem. I had no proper disinfectant, so I opened a bottle of cologne and poured it on the open wound. That almost sent me into orbit, and it did little good, as the wound was even worse the next day.


The Operation
About this time a small boat sailed in that I knew well. It was the boat of two friends, Hillary and Neil, who I had shared many pleasant evenings with. Neil was an English physicist, and Hillary was a mathematician. They were very highly educated people, and a joy to talk with.

Of course, when they sailed in, I had to go over and join them the first evening they were in port. I was in a very poor mood because the wound on my leg was developing blood poisoning, and I felt that my future was going to be quite short at that point. There was little or no medical help to be had in Bequia. I hoped that Hillary could help me.

When I came aboard I failed to mention Dart's sale, in my concern for my health. I sat with them drinking some of their home made beer while discussing the stinking mess that my leg had become. Hillary decided to have a close look at it, which I thought was very brave considering. She got out a magnifying glass and a sharp knife to explore the wound with. After some time poking and prodding, while Neil held a light for her, she announced that she could see seven distinct "cores" in the center of the wound that must relate to seven bites.

After an extended period of discussion of the options, Hillary decided that the only option was for her to operate! She proposed cutting out all the infected tissue, and the cores, and then using tape to tie the hole together instead of stitches. At that point it sounded wonderful to me, other than the fact that it would have to be cut away without the benefit of pain killer. Neil came to the rescue on that front, and produced a new bottle of rum. The pain killer was in hand.

We talked far into the night while I steadily worked on the rum. When a significant portion of the bottle was gone Hillary decided the time was at hand to operate. I continued to talk with Neil ,and enjoy his rum, while Hillary started cutting the rot out of my leg. I can empathize with the soldiers of the Civil War. The rum helped but was far from a pain killer. I would have to stop talking every now and again when Hillary made a particularly deep cut. By concentrating on Neil's face, and the subject of the conversation, I made it through the ordeal. When it was all cut away Hillary produced a can of sulfa powder, and covered it all with the wonderful substance. She then bandaged it expertly, and it was over.

All signs of the infection quickly vanished, replaced by healthy healing tissue. Within three days I was back in the sea diving for my dinner once again. It was a tremendous load off my shoulders to know that I was not going to die. I owed it all to Hillary and Neil, but especially Hillary for having the stomach to operate on such an ugly mess. I loved them both for what they had done for me.


Bad News

When I next returned to visit my friends, Hillary and Neil, I made the comment that I had sold Dart, and would be heading up to the US in a few weeks. They were excited about the news, and asked who had bought her, as they had news for me too. When I told them Tristan had bought her it became deadly quiet in the boat. Neil looked at Hillary, and I knew instantly that something was very wrong.

After a few moments of confused silence Hillary looked at me and told me that they had also sold their boat to Tristan Jones. They had, like me, decided to make one more trip down through the Grenadines before turning it over to Tristan. While they were off doing their final cruise Tristan had discovered my boat, about the same size, but vastly superior for his purposes. Dart was a multi-keeled boat. She had three keels, a main ballasted center keel, and two bilge keels. The combination of the three keels and the rudder support allowed Dart to take to the bottom during low tide in an upright stable position. It also reduced the draft of the boat to only a little over two feet. For sailing in the West Indies, and especially to haul it to Lake Titicaca in the Andes, Dart was a far superior hull design.

The question now was what was going on with their boat sale as there was no doubt that Tristan was taking over Dart. The local banker was holding money that Tristan had put down on their boat, as well as money that he had put down on Dart. The immediate question to be answered was if their money was still there.

Hillary and Neil went to the bank and when they returned I instantly knew that all was not well. Tristan had told the banker that Neil and Hillary had elected to cancel the agreement and had sailed out of Bequia. The sailing part was, of course, true. They were just going on their last cruise. They had also booked their air passage out of St. Vincent back to England, and the tickets were not refundable. They had made other arrangements in England as well. With their boat missing from the bay the banker thought that Tristan was telling the truth and returned his money which he then used to put down on my boat.

I immediately decided that I would cancel my deal with Tristan in order to force him to go back to the original arrangement, but Hillary and Neil would have no part of it, and insisted that I complete my deal. I felt horrible over the situation, and all the joy I felt in having everything come to a smooth close was gone. I was filled with anger towards Tristan.

The situation was now most unpleasant since I now shared Banjo and Dart with Tristan. We would spend the evenings together either on the 36 foot Banjo, or on little Dart. We ate dinner on Banjo every night together since it had so much room to relax in. Banjo was sort of a "fill in boat" that Tristan had picked up after the sale of Barbara, while he planned the Titicaca trip. I was never quite clear where he had acquired Banjo, but she was a superb all wood ketch, and seemed huge to me after living on Sea Dart. Conditions were going to be much different between us after this.

We discussed the various options available to us, including legal action, but decided that any such action would be very costly, and in the laid back island society would take longer than the time available. Besides, Tristan would simply hoist anchor on Banjo and sail away to regroup elsewhere. There was nothing more that we could do other than harass the banker, and Hillary and Neil had already vented their frustrations on him. He knew he had really made a blunder.

Last edited by Jgbrown; 09-30-2012 at 02:26 AM.
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