LETTERS down a beach. Of course, I had to dive for it, and it would have been ecstasy if it were immortalized in slow motion on video. Funny, but it could have been my biggest mistake, too. I could see the headline, "Man Paralyzed Diving For Toy." An Aerobe is similar to a Frisbee, but flies much, much further. Friendliest Folks: Everyone we've met. Really. Friendly people are everywhere — well, except perhaps for those Russians we met in a bar. Actually, going into that bar without my trusty first mate Ben, aka Scootch Cornbuckle, the Kentucky fisherman, was probably my biggest mistake. I coulda pounded those Russkis hard if he'd been with me. But still, it just never would have happened. But you live and you learn — or you die young. That incident was the closest I've come to death since starting this voyage. That battle is a whole different story. Greatest Dive: The one I had to make on the anchor in Tonga. We were anchored in 35 feet of water, the anchor was pinned under a boulder, and it was getting dark. I had no motor, and no Ben — just Jenny, the young and fragile niece of the owner of the local yachtie hangout. I told Jenny to count to ten after I dove down, then give me slack, then count to ten again, take up as much slack as possible, then tie it off. It's true that 'there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip, but in this case I emerged a great hero, glistening in the moonlight, and we were off again. Worst Weather: On our passage from Nuie to Tonga, we had two days of continuous 40-knot winds and, of course, the seas got rather large. The skipper of a 40-ft monohull who left shortly before us, and had already been around the world once, said they were the worst seas he'd ever experienced. Never before, he said, had he had waves breaking over the stern and into his cockpit. He and his son looked pretty beat up after the ordeal. We, on the other hand, had a pretty easy time of it. We just put out the storm jib, set the tiller pilot, and went below to sleep and play cribbage. We had our average 200-mile days, at one point hitting 18 knots while we were sleeping, and we certainly didn’t have any waves break over our stern. Having had other similar experiences to this makes me wonder why so many sailors think we are crazy doing open water passages in our trailerable foam-and-carbon folding trimaran. I mean, let's think about this for a second. Where is the sense in hauling a couple of tons of lead — which sinks — around the world? It makes a boat heavy and slow. And I can't adequately describe what a tremendous advantage having a shallow draft boat — as little as 14 inches — has been. For example, in Rorotonga, all the monohulls had to stay in the commercial harbor — a nightmare for the poor bastards. Most would leave after about two days of getting smashed into the pier. We snuck into a lagoon on the south side, which was like paradise, and enjoyed a month-long stay. I could go on with other examples, but it would be rubbing it in. Lots of people ask me if it isn't dangerous sailing such a light boat around the world. Sure it's a little dangerous, especially for someone like me, who didn’t have any offshore sailing experience before I started this voyage. But I think it would have been far more dangerous if I'd done what I've done aboard a heavy, deep draft, monohull. We make passages in about half the time of similar-sized monohulls. If we hit a reef or sand bar — something we've done many times — it's no big deal. We either sail or kedge off — whatever it takes. Then we'll roll her up a beach with our big inflatable 'rollie', and slap a little glass and resin on her if she needs it, and call it good. Had I made the same mistakes I have with a monohull, it would have meant game over, go home, get Page 56 •
• February, 2006
The April 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.