Precipice

(Daily prompt: precipice)  Next week I will be 78.  I am “standing” on a precipice.  Ten minutes ago (actually ten years ago) three of us, long-time sailboaters all, were on a passage from the Lasqueti Islands to Nanaimo in the Georgia Strait (British Columbia).  The boat was a Cal 34 owned and skippered by my long-time best buddy, Gary Johnson.  (I’d introduced him to sailing, but that’s another story.)  We’d left our sheltered anchorage in a moderate wind, put up the big sail, the genoa, not smart given the marine forecast of 25 knots.  But very pleasant sailing, the NW wind slightly abaft the beam, as long as we were sheltered by the islands.  Then we entered open waters, and suddenly it was blowing 30 knots, the seas really kicking up made worse by an opposing current.  What to do?  Loosen up on the jib sheet and lower the halyard just enough to take the pressure off the sail before heading into the wind to finish the job.  The wind had other ideas and promptly wound the sail around the forestay, leaving it flapping out of control.   I climbed out of the cockpit and started forward to grapple with the damn thing.  Gary and Ray both yelled at me to get back in the cockpit.  The better part of valor, fire up the diesel auxiliary and motor down to Nanaimo, leaving the damn sail flapping.  Motoring was a good idea, but I couldn’t abide the flapping, the thought of it tearing his sail to rags.  So I continued forward, very gingerly.  Reaching the bow, I tried pulling the sail the remaining way down.  But the halyard was jammed.  I started to stand up, which was too much for Gary.  If you fall overboard, there’s no way we can rescue you in these seas, but we’d have to try and all of us would drown.  You want that?  For not the first time, I was “standing” on the precipice.  I kneeled back down and crept my way back to the cockpit.  Readers should note that precipice has at least two meanings, my source being Encarta, the first, the more common, a steep rock face, and the second, as used in this tale from my past, a very dangerous situation.   What’s yours?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s