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MAX EBB weighed more than he did, so by the time his head slammed into the top swivel on the roller furling at the masthead he was really moving fast again." “How did he get down?” asked Lee. “It turns out, that wasn’t a problem,” said the old man. “When the bucket hit the deck it landed all catty-whumpus, and most of the water spilled out. The poor guy wasn’t fast enough to hold on to something solid, and a second later he was plunging back down the mast.” “Was it a clear shot right back to the deck?” “Hardly. He was going down at a great rate of speed, and halfway down, there’s the bucket coming up at an equal and opposite speed. Wham! The rim of the bucket got him right in the chin. Man, that had to hurt. And then when he hit the deck, almost as fast as a free fall, he broke his leg pretty bad.” “Gosh,” I said.

“It just wasn’t his day,” added Lee. “But the story doesn’t end there,” said our guest. “He’s still in the bosun’s chair, lying on the deck all beat up, in terrible pain from the broken leg, and then the poor guy unties the halyard from the chair without thinking it through.” “Oh no!” cried Lee. “What’s wrong with that?” I said. “Well, he forgot about the partly full bucket of water at the top of the mast. A few seconds after he undid the bowline — pow! Another blow to the head, this one powerful enough to knock him out.” “And I bet the line kept running out of the halyard sheaves,” I guessed. “Yup, and that’s how they found him, hours later. Barely breathing, passed out cold, under a heap of halyard line.” “Did the guy recover?” I asked.

"His foot caught in a cleat and we heard a sickening crack as he fell to the dock."

“There were complications with the broken leg, and they had to amputate part of it.”


eanwhile, Lee was in the chair again, screwdriver in the tool pocket. I cranked the winch while she lifted her weight on the spare halyards. “I can also take off that masthead light,” she offered. “Why would I want to do that? I need that to see the windex at night.” “Too much weight aloft.” “That tiny little light?” “It’s not the light itself, but like, that long run of wiring inside the mast.” “She’s right,” added our guest. “Wires inside masts are always a hassle.” “Think about it,” she said between heaves on the halyards as she climbed. “Why use a wire . . . to send electricity . . . up to the top of the mast . . . and then have a piece of equipment up there . . . to turn the electricity into light . . . when you can just send photons instead?” “Photons?” “She means put a flashlight on the


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Latitude 38 August 2006  

The August 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.

Latitude 38 August 2006  

The August 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.