Brad, Dan and Scott's Sailing Adventure

"There she is boys! The SS More Powerful than Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the Incredable Hulk combined." This space will be used to post updates of our odyssey.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Here's your proof

As you can see, there was extensive damage to the cockpit area.


Well, we've been out of touch for a few days, and what a few days it has been. It all started with the familair exitement of a hooked fish as the line noisily ran off the reel. Dan grabbed it and started tighening the drag down, but the fish continued to take line. As we were running out of line Dan continued to tighten the drag until the rod looked to me like it would break at any moment. The fish finnally arrest its inital run and Dan began the battle to regain line while I brought in the sails and started the motor, allowing us to manueaver. Dan fought the fish from the bow while assisted by chasing it down with Kaleidoscope's five knots.

The fight took no less than an hour and a half as we brought the fish close and it then ran out more line over and over again. When it was finally tired enough for us to get it along side the boat we got our first look at the monster. It was a massive mean looking shark! We later determined it to be a 500 pound short-finned mako! Special thanks to those heavy gauge steel leaders we bought in Saint Martin. Now, we had read in the cruiser's Handbook of Fishing that most people throw sharks back, but that they are actually very good eating if you clean them correctly. Having exuasted our fish supply from our last catch we made the perhaps foolish decision to bring the shark on board. We were sure we would be able to give away the ample excess of food at the next achorage.

Like we had done with our last big fish we shot it through the head with our speargun and contented ourselves to the fact that he was dead. Now the size of this shark well exceeded the other fish we had dealt with so special means were needed to bring him on board. We ran out the spinnaker pole and clipped in one of our blocks(pulley). We then ran a dock line around the shark's tail up through the block and to one of our cockpit winches. Slowly we winched the fish out of the water and swung the pole around to bring him down inside the cockpit. His teeth looked menacing, but we were sure he was dead and the spear shaft protruding from his head gave us confidence in that belief.

However, we were mistaken. It seems the leviathon was only exhausted from the long battle and our spear shaft had missed it's mark. Just as we were about to lower him into the hopelessly undersized cockpit the animal began the thrash about wildly. I leap from my post at the cockpit winch, terrified at my proximity to the now slashing teeth. The animal arched back and forth with incredible force building up a powerful swing and becoming a living, biting wrecking ball. Our dodger was the first casualty. In one swing the shark relieved it from its delicate hinges and a puff of wind finished the job by hurling it over the starboard lifelines.

Dan and I were helpless to rescue it as we cowered in the safety of the foredeck. Another swing, this time assisted by the roll of a wave brought the full force of the shark's heavy body against the side of our helm and steering pedestal. The four bolts through the fiberglass floor gave way and the steering cables that run through it snapped. The situation was getting pretty serious and I resolved to go aft and release the line which was holding the shark above our cockpit. I made my way closer and was waiting for a opportune moment and a dose of courage. I waited a little too long as the shark swung toward the stern and crushed our aft mounted wind turbine. The unit that had so painstakingly installed fell backwards into the water behind the boat. It trailed behind us for a few moments, held by the wires which ran to our batteries, however these quickly tore and the whole unit sank to the ocean floor. In the same swing the tail connected with our mounted outboard engine. That, too, was sent to the depths.

Before any more damage could be done I managed to release the rope from the winch. This dropped the shark into our cockpit where it stretched from our compainionway to the stern rails. It continued to thrash, tearing cockpit cushions and leaving nasty gashes in our pristine gelcoat finish. Dan and I waited on the foredeck for a full 45 minutes while the beast beat the crap out of anything left in the aft section of the boat. After it had calmed for a while Dan slipped into the cabin through the forward hatch and went to the radio to call another sailboat that was only a few miles away. He came back with the news that none of our boat's electronics were working. We knew this must have some connection to the shark and a long investigation revealed the problem. The torn ends of the wires leading to the wind turbine had short circuited on the aluminium steering quadrant. The thick wires had allowed the entire battery bank to drain quickly without burning up the wires, as would happen with most short circuits. To make matters worse, the intense heat created by the short had melted part of the quadrant and frozen it to the rudder shaft. You all might not know what a quadrant is, but all you need to know is that we can't steer the boat with it melted to the rudder shaft.

So, there we were half way between Montserrat and Guadeloupe with no radio and no steering. The engine still worked but it would only drive the boat in tight circles. We drifted for two whole days before we managed to flag down a passing fishing boat. They agreed to tow us to Guadeloupe for a few bottles of rum. We just made it in this morning. The shark is still in the cockpit, we are not sure we will be able to get it out, but I'm sure not touching it.