|nonoctave.com / Rebel Yell / Part IV / Chapter 2|
|Rebel Yell||Jason Scott||Part IV - Maiden Cruise|
When you consider a female to spend your time with, son, look to her breeding. Study those who gave her life and do not be too surprised if soon, even during the honeymoon, her breeding shows.
. . . . .Dad
Since time immemorial sailors have always bestowed their sea going craft with a specific gender. . . . female! The origin for this is lost in antiquity but the logic is inescapable. Suffice to note that the similarity between the nurturing and sustaining nature of women and that which keeps man afloat during his quest for furtherance of his desires is evident. On the other side of that coin, both she can project a nature which is not to be trifled with or, worse, ignore. If he wants to survive!
The male animal of any species can be swayed quite easily by a pretty thing. Man is certainly no different. During his lifetime he has many love affairs. Some casual . . . . others intense. Some permanent . . . . some overnighters. In all cases, while involved in any one of these affairs, no matter the degree of permanency, he is a happy man indeed. Any possible faults are overlooked in his happiness. This euphoria continues until rejection occurs on either side or, more likely, he has discovered something else which piques his libido even more. Or, he is too old to care. In the latter case man, unlike the other animals, still has his memories.
Man seems to have an unusually large capacity for libido piquing. When the female of the human species catches him at his little game, there usually follows a complete lack of understanding on her part and all hell breaks loose. The normal run of mate cannot, for some reason inexplicable to men, allow these things to run their course naturally, collapse of their own weight or evolve into a many splendored thing for the errant partner. If the rejected female (whose perspectives are not as easily swayed) spots obvious faults in her competition, it makes her task of getting her male back easier.
These observations do not apply just to love affairs with other women. It more frequently applies to males capability to have a real love affair with such things as his job. . . . his hobby. . . . Monday night football. . . . an automobile or. . . . a yacht. It really matters not to the offended woman whether the object of his affection is animate or inanimate, mechanical or flesh, sexual or asexual. A libido is being piqued without proper authorization and that detracts from her sense of security and what she considers the normal monodramatic course which she has been led to believe and that her life should take. And, in case of a yacht, women have the ordinate sense to know, instinctively, that they are dealing with a sister under the skin!
But this one is different. In the case of a love affair with an inanimate object such as a boat, male reason seems to dictate that the least his female counterpart could do, at that point, is to wish him well while on his wayward way irrevocably in another direction. Hell, he may even return to her much the better for the wear and tear! The only reasonable alternative is to join him in his folly and be available when the thing falls apart. And that is exactly what my wife did in spite of the fact that she hated sailing as much as I loved it.
There was no doubt in my mind, once taking the helm of REBEL YELL that I was in love. I suspected that this was not the ultimate in love affairs for me with a boat as I was still low on the learning curve. As in all cases with a first incidence of tying the knot officially and setting off on a honeymoon, these are the sweetest moments of all because the memories of such will linger on forever. When it involves a yacht, the honeymoon is called a maiden cruise. Many of the same pitfalls are common to both.
Thus it was as we left Keelung harbor after a fretful courtship involving the Taiwanese parents of the beautiful 41 foot Sea Wolf class sailing boat. All thoughts of the kind of parents which begat her were left far behind us in a bubbly gurgling wake which disappeared into a horizon which we would never see again!
Despite the forecast light gale, the seas remained abnormally gentle and not a cloud marred the sky. The engine was running as smooth as a Perkins diesel ever can. The unrestrained swell of the open sea felt good and we quickly set the working sail into light winds and let our maiden run free in her own element.... on her own. All systems and people were GO!
Chris, who had been inordinately quiet since the aborted starts, was still in the master cabin reading. Even the helmsman was laid back. We were beyond the confines of landlocked people and the related pettiness. We were at sea and life was indeed good! As in all honeymoons, the first few hours were made in heaven.
On we sailed under cloudless skies. Just a zephyr was blowing and there seemed to be no indication of freshening so we set the 160% Gennie and our maiden still in her innocence slipped through the water gurgling happily on her way.
We turned around the northeast cliffs of the island and headed on our singular southerly direct course adjusted to 190° for wind current and variation. Southward we went along the rugged cliff strewn coastline.
The east coast of Taiwan sported sheer cliffs which dropped off directly into deep waters without benefit of beach or slope. There were no reefs, rocks, or other dangers to be concerned with as long as we kept a respectable distance from the immediate shore. In deference to the anticipated weather, we sailed five to ten miles off shore.
The name given the island by Portuguese was Formosa which simply means beautiful. Their approach had been along this very same coastline and the intensely green landscape set off against jagged cliffs and gemstone blue of the deep water. This was the very same view which they had seen and it was still as unspoiled as it had been in those days of adventuring seamen seeding excitement exploring distant lands ostensibly for God, the King and whatever they could pillage. If they happened to make a few dollars (or whatever) along the way, so much the better. For what it was worth, we knew that there was no port of refuge worth considering in case of emergency on this coast line. But with a new boat, why worry?
At 1300 hours Chris came out of her self imposed seclusion and, with good humor laid out for us the cold chicken and potato salad thoughtfully provided by our friends in Taipei as our first day’s respite. The crew, soaking up the heady salt air and warm sun was hungry enough to do justice to the food. We all ate on deck.
“This is really comfortable,” Chris remarked somewhat offhandedly. “The boat sure rides a lot better than the SIBLING."
“One thing we must always remember when in hearing distance of REBEL," I cautioned while taking heart that this was the nicest thing she had ever managed to say about any boat. “She understands every word we say about her. If we say nice things she loves it and responds in kind. If someone is nasty she gets bad vibes and. . . watch out!”
“Aw, comeon!” Chris laughed.
“No way,” Campbell interjected nodding his shaggy head to emphasize his point. “No way! Just pay attention to what he said. You’ll learn that this is a living breathing doll with all the instincts and idiosyncrasies of a loving woman who can be petulant and even vindictive. Treat her right . . . speak to her right . . . she’ll love you and take care of you when you can’t take care of yourself. Every sea going man knows that this makes sense and is a true assessment.”
Jeff listened to all of this banter and took it in.
The wheels were turning in his fertile 10 year old mind. It was warm enough that, after lunch, Jeff and his mother, who had donned her sunning rompers, lay on the main cabin deck soaking up the sun. From time to time I went below and played with the radio direction finder (RDF). Cross bearings obtained verified a speed on the water of about 4 knots. There was enough way to set the Sayes rig.
The Sayes rig is a beautifully engineered self steering mechanism which uses wind force and its direction relative to the desired course to keep a heading. It was completely mechanical and did not depend on the steering system of the boat to keep a course. Self steering of some nature is absolutely necessary on all ocean cruising sailing boats. This particular design was, according to my assessment, the best in the world. To that point, it had never experienced failure at sea under any circumstances.
It was expensive, heavy and somewhat difficult to set up. To assure that every crew member knew how to use this essential tool everyone aboard was instructed on its setup. I enjoy teaching and, for safety reasons, always made a point of instructing everyone on board as many of the aspects of sailing and navigation they wanted to learn.
On the Sayes, a paddle at the end of an extension is directed through a slightly submerged slot in a specifically attached rudder extension and the ball joint on the upper end is secured to a fixed but adjustable fitting high on the stern. A V-shaped canvas sail acts as a weather vane to pick up the wind direction. The amount of force exerted on the rudder by the vane because of the extreme leverage is tremendous and has been known to chew up a careless operator’s hands should they get caught in the gears. Also, it is necessary to stay clear of the wheel when engaged because the response to a sudden gust of wind could spin the wheel with enough force to break a hand. The entire structure except for the canvas and the hydrodynamically designed paddle itself is made of stainless steel. At the time I purchased this device it was the only one which the insurance company (Lloyds) would permit use of without spares.
When she was freewheeling, the sail on the vane settled down into a fixed position relative to the course and I dropped the pin into the gears thus locating the course position. She was holding a set direction within a 5° swing.
Campbell watched the operation with awe. “God, that’s fantastic!” he said with unabashed admiration. “Nothing to do on the helm but watch and tweak once in a while.”
We sat back and enjoyed the lazy man’s way to sail until the wind died completely about an hour before dust. At that time the sails were doused and the iron spinnaker was cranked up. The Sayes was left in position and used to steer while under power by sitting on the aft rail and barely nudging the vane to hold course. Power steering!
We were all sitting in the cockpit munching cookies, cheese and crackers when a bird circled the boat and landed about 2 feet from Jeff.
“Dad look at that! It looks tame. Can I pick it up?” he sputtered without pause. Without waiting for an answer he skittered over closer to the bird making cooing sounds to it as he moved. The bird didn’t move nor was it shaking. It appeared to be absolutely tame and unafraid. Jeff gently picked it up and cupped it in his hands.
“Can I keep him, Dad? Can I? Look . . . he likes me!” The excitement of it all beamed on his face.
“Son, its a wild bird. If he wants to stay he can but, he must be free to fly away at any time. Promise?”
He returned no direct answer but I knew that he had agreed to the conditions. He continued to pet the docile bird as he made his way forward to his berth. As for the rest of us, there was silence. We who had been to sea before knew the implication of that wild bird landing on a boat for refuge. The thought sobered us.
At 2045 hours, the wind picked up and started to freshen at a steady rate. A few clouds appeared and soon the moon was obscured. Anticipating the blow, we set a single-reef in the main and handed on the working jib. Our maiden’s pulse seemed to quicken as she leapt to keep pace with the action. She seemed to anticipate a newly found joy and was anxious for the race. We were under automatic steering.
“Chris,” I said gently. “If you get a chance before it gets any rougher, brew some coffee for the thermos and make some snacks for later. That bird knew something and told us. I think we’re in for a goodly wind and you might not be able to hold yourself down in the galley later.”
The only thing that didn’t make sense was the relatively calm sea. Usually if the weather is to be severe, the sea comes up hours before as a warning. This, I interpreted to mean that the gale was to be short lived.
I made my way forward to check my boy. He had fallen asleep in his bunk with the bird nestling half under his cover. I placed the canvas bunk boards around him to hold him in place in case it really got rough and, returning aft, handed harnesses to everyone.
“Put them on,” I growled. “If she blows I don’t want anyone unnecessarily on deck except by my personal OK. Whoever is on the helm keep a weather eye on the wind. If we are oversailed for the amount of wind on this course, she will heel over too much. When and if that happens, douse the main. Don’t change sail,” I emphasized, “unless you get me up. For the time being, during all sail changes, I shall be at the wheel.”
It is important that the most experienced man in the crew must be at the helm when handling sails in weather. I turned to Chris who was now standing in the cabin hatchway with worry obscuring her face.
“You know what happens if all isn’t put away properly and secured during heavy seas. Will you make sure everything is shipshape below?” She disappeared into the cabin.
The crew was given Marazine as some insurance against possible sea sickness. By the time Chris had completed her task and made herself fast in the owner’s cabin to await the advent. Everything possible had been done to prepare for weather so, before it really came up, I went below and climbed into the quarter berth to get some sleep. (The quarter berth is where the skipper should always rest or sleep in an impending weather condition as it makes him easily accessible to the helm.)
“Don’t hesitate to get me up if there is the slightest doubt in your minds as what to do if there is a problem. I’ll take Chris’ watch if the wind comes up too much for her strength to handle,” the watch was instructed.
With that afterthought, I fell promptly to sleep. It had been a long, long day but the confidence was there that whatever came, the beautiful and well built REBEL could handle it. After all . . . what could go wrong with a brand new boat?
I slept sounder while the wind increased in intensity. At 0400 hours Chris, who had taken her normal turn at the wheel, woke me. Bob was at the helm. I took one look at the situation and shook Campbell awake. We were heeling over way too much. In a boat with a ten kilopound ballast in her full keel this meant just one thing . . . too much sail!
After a few choice remarks about them not paying attention to instructions, I took over the wheel, asked a miffed Chris to turn on the spreaders as she went below and asked Bob to disengage the Sayes to enable maneuvering. The heeling had also done its job in getting Campbell full awake. He was now on deck.
The sound of the breaking sea and the wind in the rigging was such that it made it difficult to be heard. (People often wonder why sailors talk so loud . . . this is the reason.) The sea was now up to about 15 feet and breaking. The anemometer read 35 knots steady. Fortunately, it was coming from our aft quarterbeam and the sea was generally with us.
“Everyone on deck,” I shouted over the hiss of the weather. “Keep your harnesses tied down as you move.” Unhandy as that is, it was necessary to assure that the crew stayed aboard. Picking someone up in weather such as this would have been next to impossible. I never insisted on life jackets being worn for just that reason. The important thing is to keep people on board and not in the water.
The small amount of training the men had managed to get while in port paid off and the mains’l was lowered smartly and tied to the boom with a fair amount of speed. Immediately REBEL responded by straightening out under just jib and mizzen. The beauty of a ketch again demonstrated. Easy to lower sail and still maintain balance!
When I was satisfied that we could maintain course comfortably in that configuration, the helm was turned back to Bob and remained just long enough to assure that he could handle it. He had already bundled himself in rain slicks and seemed to be enjoying the challenge. After a quick check to assure that the ship was still secure I returned below. No point in having anyone stay on deck and be uncomfortable if they were not needed.
By early dawn, the sea had come up considerably. The wind peaked out to about 40 knots and was holding steady. We were going downwind with a following sea so the cockpit was remaining fairly dry. I slept fitfully and woke at the sound of Campbell’s agitated voice.
“Will you look at that!”
He was sitting up on his bunk, legs swung over the side and holding precariously to the structure of the engine compartment which had decided to break loose from its moorings and was merrily sliding, uncontrolled, around the cabin.
It was pretty evident why the other name for a maiden cruise is breaking in! Like the other kind of honeymoon, the first time things get a little rough, one soon discovers just how strong a foundation you have.
“Hang on buddy while I get some line to tie that mustang down!”
The two of us managed to secure the free floating compartment. Fisher, on his hands and knees, inspected the errant structure.
“Can you believe it!” he exclaimed. “Those dawned cruds screwed this thing into the floor with only four screws. . . not even bolts!”
The boat was now pitching and rolling with increasing fury. I took a quick look at the helmsman. He had this big smile on his face seeming oblivious to any problems. Wild! He was actually enjoying himself! My attention turned to the engine compartment which had been exposed and emitted a cry of alarm. The bilge was full and sloshing water!
“Now what in hell has failed,” I cried in dismay while reaching over and turning on the electric pump. “Hasn’t anyone had enough brains to look at the bilge when coming off watch?”
No answer was necessary as it was apparent that in the leisure pleasures of the earlier sail, no one, including me, had bothered to see if we were taking on an excessive amount of water. Now, at each roll, water sloshed up and over the cabin decking. There was also the danger of shorting out wires on the engine.
God knows what the storage space looks like, I thought. At least the bilge pump was taking care of the leak. It did for about 15 minutes. Then, with a ghastly death gurgle . . . it shut down! Now what? Half the water in the bilge was still there . . . sloshing, sloshing!
Up came the floor in the main salon to be able to feel down into the slimy water for the end of the pump hose. It was clogged with debris. The trustworthy staff at the factory had installed the hose without a screen and contaminants had gone directly to the pump and ruined the diaphragms. I had seen it happen before but never on a brand new boat. It seems that the factory vacuum had been somewhat less than through. Sure, they had cleaned where we could easily inspect but neglected those areas outside a cursory inspection. (Several lessons learned here. One being that a diaphragm type pump is less than satisfactory under certain probably conditions of cruising. I now make certain that rotary pumps are used. They can suck up almost anything and they will only clog, not break down.)
“Dammit! No time to fix the pump now.” I pushed myself up from a prone position and headed for the galley, removed the floorboards and stuck the handle of the hand pump into the Whale type bilge pump. Without comment, Campbell took up a position opposite me and the two of us made like a couple of railroaders working a hand car. The factory built replica of a Whale really put out the water but it was very hard to work. After about 5 minutes of this, the bilge was empty. We replaced the flooring and sat back exhausted.
“Standing order. From now on, before a person comes on watch, they pump out the bilge,” I panted.
“Sure as hell will wake him up.” Campbell observed dryly. “I wonder where in hell all that water came from?”
“Couldn’t find any leaks. I looked. I also tasted. It tasted a lot like fuel oil but all the lines were tight and the fuel level in the tank seems to be about right.” It was something else to worry about.
By this time dawn had arrived even though the sun didn’t have the decency to show itself. The rains, which until then had been relatively clement, hit us with vengeance. It had its good points. Rain has the effect of flattening out the sea and the rough weather started to subside. Through all of this Jeff had slept with the innocence of fatigue.
I had been right in my initial assessment of the relative intensity of the storm and the time it would vent itself out. The rain stopped and clouds started to break up into puffy little bits of low hanging cumulus reminding one of a passel full of Mom’s drop biscuits scattered on a blue blanket. By 0900 hours the wind had returned to a normal gentle breeze and we reset the working sails. REBEL, her tumultuous first night over with, sailed blithely on. Unpretentiously but not so innocent any more.
While Jeff had slept well with all the rolling and pitching and noise, it had not been so with Chris. I had observed that, during the height of the action, she had come out of her hole and went on deck to have a cigarette. She was shaking like a leaf . . . and not from the cold. Everything which had gone on below, she had heard.
“What’s with you, lover?”
“I just had the stuff scared out of me, that’s what!” A pause then, “I just knew we were all going to die.”
“Not in this little gale!”
“If that’s what you call a little one, what in hell would a big one be like? No . . . don’t answer that!” She paused to take another drag and reflect.
“What fun. Beating yourself to pieces . . . afraid to get up because your stomach is demanding to upchuck, freezing your buns off in the wet cold, rupturing your kidneys because you don’t think you can hold on to the toilet even if you managed to make it there . . . You guys are the stuff apes are made from and I’m a fool to be with you!” I could understand the concern of someone who had never been to sea in a storm before and, to make matters worse, couldn’t swim.3
Everyone was a little queasy that morning so breakfast was delayed until noon. Jeff slept until then oblivious to all. The pattern of sleeping long hours the first few days at sea was a habit which he perpetuated throughout the whole sail. When finally awake, he ran to the cockpit where we were all sitting sipping coffee.
“Hey, Dad! My bird has flown away . . . and he was so tame.” Tears welled in those beautiful green eyes. I took his hand in mine.
“The bird knew it was safe to be with you in a storm,” I consoled him as I gathered him to me. “Now that the danger is passed, he is on his way again . . . probably to his family. It is important that we were all friends when we were needed.” He nodded and the tears subsided.
The sky remained partially overcast but the friendly winds died completely about 1300 hours. We had just started the engine when there was a cry of anguish from below.
“Jason! Have you seen the mess we have in all our drawers?” Chris had apparently been inspecting the results of the storm on her stewardships. The high bilge water had sloshed over into all the drawers and compartments where clothes and cameras had been stored.
“Not a thing is dry.” she wailed. “And smell them . . . kerosene!” One full day at sea and all her careful work folding and stowing had been ruined. She held up my Rolex movie camera and the 35 mm for me to see. “And just what in hell do you think was done to these things?” I groaned at the sight for all my favorite cameras and film within were ruined . . . forever!
That was bad enough but what really worried me was where did the diesel fuel come from? I checked the jerry cans and they were still full.
We secured the wandering engine compartment with sufficient screws and cleaned up the mess below as much as possible. Chris refused to help that time. The bilge was now being emptied with the hand pump on a regular basis. We apparently had some leaks around the stuffing box and rudder post. They could be repaired . . . but only 2 weeks from the factory and 1 day in the water?
The sun decided to put in an appearance around 1500 and the weather turned warmer as we moved south. Chris was hanging wet items on the life lines when a voice came from the helm.
“Take a look at the engine temp.”
Sure enough, the engine temperature had increased to over 200 degrees and was still rising. God, I thought, we had that problem fixed back in Keelung! Also, when power was cut back to idle, the engine ran rough and then stopped. Great balls of fire! The oil pressure seemed to be within range but an awful lot of oil was being used for this being a new engine.
We discovered that the immediate problem was a lack of fresh water in the radiator. This was corrected. The engine ran at normal temperatures for about two hours and then more fresh water had to be added. There was a leak somewhere in the cooling lines or, heaven forbid, the engine itself! Now we knew why so much water was in the bilge. Or, we thought we knew. The problems continued to erupt.
A few hours later, Chris was on watch and she hailed me from the helm. “Something is very wrong with the Sayes. I can’t make it steer at all!”
I took the wheel and discovered that she was oh, so right. There was no force being exerted on the wheel from the self steering mechanism. Peering over the transom the problem became as clear as the crystal water below. The paddle was missing! In the storm it had apparently slipped off and we no longer had automatic steering. From now on we would have to stand all our watch time at the wheel! Oh, happy day! We had just experienced the first “at sea” failure of the fool proof Sayes Rig! Yankee workmanship had also failed us!
A couple of hours later, Campbell advised me that the hand bilge pump was no longer working. Another nail in the coffin! Upon examination we discovered that the diaphragm had split from one end to the other . . . and we didn’t have a spare. But, who would have thought to provide a spare for a brand new pump? Anyone who was foolish to buy a fake one made by a somewhat untrustworthy factory in Taiwan . . . that’s who!
The entire crew was gathered for a meeting on the fan tail and it was there that they were informed that, because of the multiple failures we would alter course and make for Kaohsiung, the major military seaport on the west side of Taiwan.
Our margin of safety had been compromised too far and as long as we were still on the island one could assume that services from the factory would be available. It was a remarkably naive assumption considering all the help we had received from the factory when they were right next door in Keelung. One small additional problem: REBEL had no clearance to come into Kaohsiung.
The sky cleared as the morning sun moved upward and a moderate warm breeze continued to blow from the right direction as we continued southward toward the tip of Taiwan. The helm became quite tedious, though, because of the presence of strong rips and currents. The good side was that we were comfortable and not dependent on the engine to move. The bad side was that we were now forced to initiate a bucket brigade to keep sea water and engine water from getting higher than the sole boards. The fact that the bilge was still getting water from somewhere even though the engine was shut down was a nagging thought.
The lighthouse at Oluanpi, southernmost point of Taiwan, was cleared the following day in the early predawn hours and we turned north northwest along the coast heading towards the largest military and commercial port in Taiwan. The land mass on the western coast had flattened out and sloped gradually into the sea. We were now sailing in pale blue water over a sandy base with about 8 fathoms below us.
When the sun cleared the mountains, we knew we were in the semi tropics. The glistening white sand beaches along the waterline were laced with palm trees leaning out right over the water. It was amazing to see what just a few hundred miles southward from Keelung made in way of weather and flora.
The front, having passed, turned the winds with us as we rounded the cape and we continued to sail with about 15 knots still on our aft port quarter. It was exceedingly pleasant and everyone was on deck enjoying the sun and scenery. Moving in just beyond the surf line we were able to voice communicate with the scattering of bathers ashore who waved at us as we passed. A peaceful interlude soon to be broken.
Some time before making the southern entrance to the harbor, we were approached by two high speed gun boats. They came in from the north, swung around behind us, dropped back for a while, observing, and then made a high speed pass but a few feet from us on both sides. Again they swung around and made the same pass but crisscrossed us from the rear. We waved frantically to show our friendliness.
The crew also seemed to be friendly as they smiled and waved at us as they went slowly by for a third pass . . . then left. Onward we continued under light wind and a swell that seemed to be such as one experiences inside a sheltered harbor.
Still another visitor approached us. A helicopter made for us and circled but a few hundred feet directly overhead. This had the effect of royally messing up our sails before it climbed out and returned northward towards the city. My, weren’t we popular! There was no doubt in our minds that the military officials in Kaohsiung knew that we were coming.
A couple of miles from the harbor entrance the winds died abruptly. It was 1430 when we lowered all sail and started the engine. Even though we had topped off the cooling system prior to starting, the engine immediately started to heat up and run rough. The RPM surged consistently and I wondered just how long she was going to hold out. I called Kaohsiung Harbor Control and received no answer. I could hear the other ships talking to them. After about 20 minutes of trying, we were recognized.
“Yah-tee calling Kaohsiung. Identify yourself and give position.”
I complied also informing them that we were having difficulty with the engine and therefore requested immediate clearance into the harbor.
“Yah-tee calling Kaosiung. Sprell out call retters.”
Knowing the difficulty Chinese have with our name phonetics were used. There was a long pause while they digested R E B E L Y E L L.
“Rabble Yow, you cannot make hah-bur. Too rate for today. Hove to and call in mor-ing.”
I was aware of their strict rules regarding entry at night but it was still daylight. All during the conversation we had continued relentlessly inward while the engine still ran. By this time we had cleared the breakwater entrance. No wind would help us if the engine failed and we were coming into a major port under trying conditions.
Trying to make a large commercial harbor under nothing but sail is a good exercise in seamanship but it is still dangerous because of the heavy traffic. No international port gives an ounce of right-of-way to sailing ships. We had to make port while we could still do it under power.
“Kaohsiung, this is Yankee Echo Lima Lima. I am declaring an emergency because of my faulty engine. In addition, I am taking on water and have had failures in both of my bilge pumps. The engine cannot be depended upon for long and I am rapidly filling up with water. I must continue on my course to the safety of your harbor.”
“Yankee Echo Rima Rima, you cannot proceed. Turn ’roun and reave harbor. We have sent gun boat to escort you out. Compry or we have no choice but to sink you!” My God! They were serious! They sent a gunboat?
I went aft and peered out of the hatchway. Sure enough, there it came. It was about the size of one of our small cutters. Climbing out from below, I took the wheel and turned REBEL around. I knew that the paranoid Taiwanese would just as soon use me for target practice as not.
Reaching the entrance of the harbor on the way out, I deliberately shut the engine down and, by direction, the crew rushed forward and laid the anchor. Right there in the center of their roadway!
“Kaohsiung Radio, this is the United States registered yacht REBEL YELL. My engine has stopped (not a lie, I stopped it!) To save the boat I have set the anchor. I shall try to get it started once more when you can clear me into the harbor or when I have wind.”
The gunboat was now circling us with its gun crew looking very serious indeed and tracking our every move with their cannon. The situation continued on for about two more tense hours. Neither giving way. Finally, the gunboat changed its circling mode, came about and started directly for us. Something was about to happen and I was not too sure I liked it. All of us now on deck held our breath as the last part of this dangerous game of Chinese Checkers was about to be played out!
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