'Panache', a 38-year-old Catalina 30, made it all the way to the South Pacific before she was rocked by a few minor problems.
strange in such colossal swells, particularly since there was no light to see them coming. Panache rocked back and forth violently, so getting aboard was a task in itself. The wind was from the north and the swell from the northwest, which kicked Panache around just enough to make sleep impossible. I had to get up in the middle of the night for a breather, as a can of spray paint clinking back and forth was keeping me from sleeping. No matter how I moved the can or packed material around it, the sound of that little mixing ball inside continued to keep me up. "While on deck, I checked the boat's line to the mooring ball. The mooring was a refrigerator-sized block of concrete with a nylon rope, with an eye splice on a metal thimble to tie off to. Panache would periodically stretch the mooring line taut. Each time she reached the end
of the line, I was jerked more awake. As I climbed into the cabin to go below, I was careful not to step on the bundle of papayas my crew Vlad and I had put in the cockpit in case they had bugs intent on stowing away. With so many papayas, there really wasn't any other place for them! Throughout the night I woke up periodically and made a visual sweep of the surroundings. Same waves, same wharf being beaten by the waves, nothing new of note. My crew Vlad and I never fell asleep, but we did fall into a limbo dream state where our brains were just conscious enough to lurch into action if need be. This must be how most animals sleep. In our state of grime and sleep deprivation, Vlad and I felt like animals. Little did Vlad and I realize that during one of our partial dream states the rocking of the boat had
slowly untied the line between Panache and the mooring line. Like a blind man walking toward a cliff, Panache slowly and unnoticeably rocked toward the hard, coral shore just 100 feet away from the mooring. I don’t know what I was dreaming about, but the most terrible sound woke Vlad and me at the same time. It was as if a wrecking ball were ramming the bottom of the boat! Our animal sleep broken, both of us shot up. BANG! With the Zach was red-faced force of a cannon with embarrassment about the incident. blast, the wrecking ball struck again, jolting the whole boat like an earthquake. “We’re on the reef!” Vlad shouted in a shaky voice. Never had my heart sunk so fast or my adrenaline risen so high in the same instant. Smashing your boat on a reef is a sure way to end your cruise quickly. And if it doesn't sink your boat, it will sink your cruising ambitions. “Wow! Wow! WOW!” Vlad couldn't stop yelling the same thing each time the reef battered the keel. Noting that the bow was pointed toward the reef — meaning the prop was in deeper water, I screamed at Vlad to turn the engine on. "Now!!!" I kept hoping that I was just having a nightmare. Vlad instinctively turned the ignition. “It doesn't work!" he shouted. "Should we call for help!?” “What do you mean the engine doesn't work?!!” I responded sternly. As I hopped into the cabin to get the engine started, a wave pushed us deeper onto the reef, shoving Panache over at a 40-degree A condom every time you have sex. And, as Zach's crew Vlad would probably agree, double check the knots every time you moor.
The December 2012 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.