|nonoctave.com / Rebel Yell / Part IV / Chapter 3|
|Rebel Yell||Jason Scott||Part IV - Maiden Cruise|
The only thing worse than having no taste is having no shame.
The crew was inordinately silent as we watched the gunboat move closer and closer to us in what seemed to be a most menacingly slow pace. Her gun crew looked down the sights of the 3 inch cannon on her bow. By now it was too late to reconsider the tack taken or the role we had chosen to play. Surely they wouldn’t fire at us without permitting us to leave the boat! Were they going to ram us? Then, she turned from her dead on course and moved alongside within hailing distance. The gun crew secured from their attack position and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Now what? The captain hailed us across the water.
“You now forrow us. You start engine and forrow us.” Another sigh of relief.
“Goddamn, Jason, you have more brass than brains,” Campbell growled. “You just bluffed them out!”
“Let’s get it started. We haven’t won anything yet,” I replied as the crew moved forward automatically to tend the anchor.
The engine fired reluctantly and we moved slowly after our escort. They were making for a singular dock just inside the entrance. There, a cadre of military vehicles and an ominous armed uniformed crowd waited for us on the dock. Our welcoming committee! We pulled up just as if it were our home port, heaved the lines and secured. No one ashore was smiling. An officer approached the yacht.
“You captain? You come with me!”
I took my place between two military guards armed with automatic weapons. It was common knowledge that the guns had live ammo, as such was their custom in this police state. If this was the kind of welcome they gave their friends, I thought, I’d hate to be considered an enemy. The open arms were there but not the kind we’d expected.
Under tow by the welcoming committee, I arrived at a stucco building inside a barbed wire enclosure. Once inside, I was crisply told to wait. Only one person was in the room and the silence was deafening.
In what was an obvious ploy to intimidate, I was forced to cool my heels in silence while the man sitting at the desk fiddled abstractly with the papers in front of him. Thus it went for some 45 minutes. Somehow it was possible to maintain a feigned bored expression on my face, looked at the pictures on the walls and in general pretended not to notice the obvious. Finally, my host looked up, squinted his eyes and pointed an accusing finger at me while rising slightly from the chair. The thought passed my mind that we could have been actors in some C movie!
“You wy-o-lated a secure area. You din have permission to land. You not cleared. What you say?” he exploded. I kept my cool. What else was there to do??
“I had no intention of coming here so that is why we did not clear. This is an international port and open to any ship in distress. I see several United States warships here in your harbor enjoying this country’s friendship. Why am I any different? You were advised that there was an emergency and you responded by threatening to sink me.”
Having gone through some three months of dealing with such pompous puppets, I knew that it was a narrow but essential path being tread in this conversation. If I were to be intimidated there would be no end to the harassment. They seemed to delight in this type of game. The dangerous part was that this was a genuine police state and there was a definite point beyond which the visitor dare not go.
“Ahhh, yesss,” he practically hissed. “I send mechanic to your boat to see if you LIE!”
Such delicacy, I thought. Now it was possible to understand even more fully the heel-cooling exercise. He smiled a most pasty smile.
“If not trouble, Captain (much disdain), you UNNER A-LEST.” His face beamed with the thought.
“All well and good. I suggest that you be a bit more civil, however, to the Captain of a United States registered boat. (The title of Captain, no matter how small the craft, carries much weight in the orient.) For your information, my crew has been instructed to advise, by radiophone, the American Counsel of our presence here.” He squirmed a bit too obviously so the point was pursued.
“My government is already aware of our plight and our requests to you for help. Our warships in your harbor monitor all calls as a matter of routine. I wonder just how they would react to an overt act of piracy on an unarmed vessel flying our flag?” That seemed to hit home for there was an immediate change of attitude.
“You mus’ unnerstan’ our position,” he almost whined. “This country is at war with Red China.”
Oh, hell, I thought. That paranoid excuse again!
“I understand very well that I fly an American flag and am being treated no better than someone from Red China. Unless something happened while we were it sea, I was under the impression that my country and yours were the best of friends.”
That statement really put him on the defensive. Their culture is such that they are not used to having someone challenge a person in a position of authority. He must have been reassessing his position in lieu of the statements. Putting those doubts into his mind was sufficient for the moment and there was no point in pressing any further.
Our mutual silent contemplation was interrupted when the radio on his desk came alive with the nasal sing-song of native dialect. He answered it abruptly then rose and came towards me with an affected smile beaming on his round face and his hand extended in a gesture of friendship. What a switch! This was the same cat who just a few hours back was going to blow me out of the water. I was in no mood to shake his hand.
He informed me that there was no need to get the report from the mechanic as a message from Taipei came in blessing my entry. He was too smiley.
“You mos’ wek-comb. You reave for special pier now. No ploblem! Yesss. We good fliends with Mericans.”
By the time we arrived at the quay only a few guards were evident and those were dispersed by a series of staccato commands. He loosed at the lines of REBEL YELL.
“Oh, fine boat bit in Taiwan. My people build many fine boats for Mericans.”
In spite of a very real revulsion, my own council was kept as I climbed aboard and without further ceremony shoved off heading away from the military pier and into the center of the harbor nursing a fitful, coughing and sputtering engine. Another gunboat was waiting off shore to escort us but this time the crew was smiling and waving us on.
“You forrow boat. He show you where to tie up,” our now friendly official shouted from the dockside. On the way my curious crew was brought up to date on what happened ashore.
“You lucky bastard! You know why don’t you?” said an excited Campbell. Seeing my look of innocence (hah!), he countered with exasperation. “Tom Shay, damn it! Tom Shay! I know that guys! This whole thing smacks of his fine hand in the pie.”
I nodded in agreement. Maybe it was so. He had indicated that he would follow us through. And all the time I thought it was MY silvery tongue! As it turned out, Tom had indeed asked a friend of high navy rank to keep an eye out for us in case we had trouble and had to make a port. Just who Tom was I could only conjecture. The result of his interventions, though, was quick in coming and most positive.
REBEL limped into what turned out to be the “new” fisherman’s harbor. “New” in Taiwan is a relative thing considering their age. God knows what condition the “old” harbor looked to be in.
We tied up alongside a half sunk fishing dhow as instructed. We were told that the boat wouldn’t move. One look at the craft and I wasn’t worried about that. What was really important to think about was would it take us with it when it sank! By the time we secured, dead tired, it was already dark.
Chris went below and mixed drinks for all of us. Good stiff ones. One ice cube apiece was all that was left in the chest but it was sufficient for our purposes. We sat in the dim lights of the harbor in sweet silence caring not a skosh that the air was saturated with a God awful fishy smell. The maiden cruise was over and we really “shook it down!”
There had never been a moment in which I felt we were in real danger of survival, but we hadn’t been able to relax much since the storm. The treatment received in the hands of the port officials had taken its toll on all of our nerves and when we made our way to our respective bunks, we slept, unmoving, until morning.
As I drifted off to sleep it came to me that it was no wonder why everyone loses weight when sailing. You’re just too damned tired to bother eating. The truth of the matter was, as I lay close to my wife, that one’s tendency for hankey-pankey also suffers much too much from this fatigue. But, then again, the sun will rise again in the morning as it always does!
If it were possible to anticipate the further difficulties we were to encounter before leaving this harbor, none of us would have slept so soundly. The next day started innocently enough. There were some official visitors early in the morning.
I had been sitting, coffee in hand, leaning against the aft rail trying to determine what would be next in this comedy of errors. There was an appreciation as to why so many who have come this way have taken such great steps to avoid an impromptu (uncleared) visit to this particular harbor. The major concern at this point was to get to Manila as safely and quickly as possible with what we had. Before leaving Keelung, the stateside broker had sent me the card of his service representative in Kaohsiung. (How did he know we would need it?) He didn’t offer to pay for any services which might be required as a part of his commitment however it seemed like a nice gesture at the time. Those of us on deck watched idly as a car pulled up and a Taiwanese, dressed all in whites, crawled over and under the debris on the dhow and politely asked to come aboard.
It turned out that he was an agent for a local yacht manufacturer and had been sent by the Port Captain to assist in making repairs. He accepted the service representative’s card with some trepidation, looked at it at length then proceeded to quietly leave the boat after assuring me that he would pass the word that we were looking for the Smilin’ Hybernian’s foreign representative, one Bill Croome. As he left REBEL and crawled over the rotting decks of the dhow pushing the cobwebs and debris aside and startling the scavenging wharf rats aboard that craft, I couldn’t help from wondering where he got his fantastic British accent.
By the time the rest of the sleepy crew hit the deck and congregated in the cockpit, an aging American and a lovely Taiwanese girl some 20 years his junior, arrived and gingerly worked their way aboard. Neither seemed either surprised or bothered by the rodent population aboard the dhow who were now becoming rather upset by all the traffic through their territory. The girl carried a parasol and handled herself with the graciousness of a queen. The oldster was scruffy. He introduced himself and his wife then proceeded to go over the problems which needed his help. Before they left, his consort, Lu Chen (Americanized to Lucy) invited Chris and Jeff to join her to clean up while “the men play with their toys”.
Even though the Crooms were the most gracious of hosts, we soon discovered that agent or no, representative or no, the reputation of the builder TB was such that no reputable yard in Kaohsiung would put us up to do any repair. (It might be well to note here that the shipyards in Kaohsiung had the reputation of being well run and reputable compared to those in and around Taipei. In general, a yacht built by one of these local yards could be counted on as being of high quality construction. As such, they were most reluctant to do anything which might require their chop of approval on work done by a builder whose reputation was not up to their standards.) We were left to make out with what we could scrounge and utilize our own hand to do the work. This was a turn of events that really got to me. Croome had an idea that sounded like a winner of a respite.
“I know you guys are tired after three months of wrestling with TB. Why don’t you and your wife take off for a week to Kenting House (a resort at the tip of Taiwan) and let me worry about getting things done.”
It was done. We were to meet for lunch at the Regency Hotel to go over details and then take a cab the following morning for the Kenting House Hotel. Campbell, Bob and I worked that afternoon making the boat shipshape and putting it back into some semblance of order after the chaotic trip. As long as we were not going to sail for Manila for a week, Bob decided to return to Taipei. Campbell decided to stick around until we returned and see if he couldn’t get the systems up and running again. His efforts and expertise were much needed and appreciated.
That evening, knowing that we were going nowhere tied up to the derelict, the throttle control system was taken apart to properly adjust it. This, as it turned out, was a mistake of first magnitude! It prevented us from being able to turn the engine over in case of emergency. When in Taiwan it pays to keep your transportation in a mode for a quick getaway!
Despite the odor, it was exceedingly interesting to watch boats of all shapes and condition come in to the pier, load up with ice and supplies and leave again. The whole operation was relatively efficient compared to the way everything else operated. As it is in all such ports, the roads and ways are filthy but, compared to the water, bristol. Everything was dumped in the water. One could spend hours just looking at what drifted by. . . contemplating where it had been and what it had seen. Needless to say, we didn’t dip into the water for washing our dishes and such! Even when evening slipped into night, the hustle and bustle was there until about 0300 when it seemed to quiet down for about two hours until the dawn shift arrived. We all sat on deck watching until, one by one, each of us retired . . . dead on our feet!
This port city differed greatly from Taipei. It was, first of all, situated in a subtropical climate. A simile could be drawn between the damp cold weather of San Francisco and the warm dry sunny weather of San Diego. Kaohsiung was spread out over a large area with but a few high rise buildings. The streets were fairly well laid out and were considerably wider than other cities in Taiwan. The buildings were relatively new and more were going up. The city had a clean industry base and the air was relatively clean. (Taipei’s smog rivals that of the worst in the world.)
Instead of the hectic, hell-bent-for-nowhere-in-particular pace of Taipei, the attitude seemed to be one of steady and relentless orderly progress. Western influence was clearly predominant. The city looked and smelled clean . . . even flower fragrant. Unlike the other areas of Taiwan, the people did not dispose of their garbage by dumping it out of the kitchen window to the street five stories below where it sat for a week awaiting pickup.
The hotel Regency where we met looked very much as though it had been transplanted from Southern California. Everyone spoke english and western dress was the norm for all except the waitresses who wore the traditional slitted oriental shift. After tossing a few cordial drinks, Croome gave a report which was good and bad.
The bad news saved until after we had eaten in order to prevent ulcers. It seems that TB and his foreman summarily rejected any suggestion that they had any responsibility for the fact that the boat started falling apart at the seams as soon as it left the factory. They had delivered the boat and had been paid for same and that was that! No help even if we wanted to pay for it! (Oriental custom. Seems that if they were to acknowledge a problem by agreeing to work on it, even for pay, someone might get the idea that their workmanship was something less than perfect. Face had to be saved at all cost!)
Croome then tried to get some of the yards to take us in and make the necessary repairs. To a man, when they found out the boat had been built by TB, they refused any help regardless of price offered. They would make repairs if we brought the parts to them but they wouldn’t step on one of TB’s boats for fear of contamination of reputation. I didn’t flinch at the news.
Twenty dollars bought us a cab the next day for the drive through the southern Taiwan countryside. The hotel was situated in a national park overlooking the waters at the southernmost tip of the island. The roads were in a state of moderate disrepair and tortuosity but the trip was driven slowly and enjoyed by all. The countryside was a profusion of wild colored semitropical flowers and their perfume saturated the air. The villages along the way were very Formosan and quaint.
The next few days, Chris was in her element. The hotel was comfortable and clean and the food was excellent. Above all that, the waiters, servant and general personnel bowed and scraped their way in and out of our sight. This was her idea of the consummate vacation. Our personal relationship, which had been somewhat strained of late, improved considerably. Then, we got a phone call which ended our state of euphoria.
“You gotta get back here, Jason,” Croom advised me. “a typhoon is forecast to hit the Kaohsiung area within the next 24 hours.” A far east typhoon is nothing to deal with lightly with winds that can clock in at over 200 miles per hour.
The harbor was a mass of confusion. It was full of boats of all sizes and types. Where they had all come from was a mystery. It is amazing how they can be packed into a safe port when extreme weather is forecast. Lots of the work on the boat fortunately had already been accomplished. The visible leaks in the cooling system were re-welded while still in place and a US made diaphragm was fitted to the hand bilge pump. The engine controls had not yet been worked on.
The air became hot and heavy as we sat aboard waiting the first Typhoon of the season. It did not materialize. Its course changed from a northward tract during the night and went through about 200 miles south of us packing winds to 170 knots. But every fishing boat in the area clustered in the little area known as the new fishing harbor.
Any blue water sailor who takes a look at the pilot charts for the waters of the China Sea, Philippine Sea and all the waters north and east off Japan goes into shock when he sees the expected incidences of typhoons from May to October of any year. This one was unusually early in the season but it firmed up my resolve to spend no more than one added week there in the danger area. Also, the favorable winds from the north were rapidly diminishing.
The day following the typhoon scare, the boats started leaving the harbor in droves. Each fishing boat, in its turn, pulled alongside the street dock and took on a chipped ice load for the hold. The movement because of the crowding was highly restricted and tempers flared continually. (Fishermen are the same temperament worldwide!) Of course, the boat we were tied to still remained tilted on its side as it rotted away at the ropes. I worsted on the control cables while we waited for the harbor to clear.
One of the beauties of living aboard a boat is that if you don’t like the neighborhood or your neighbors you can just haul anchor and move.
The next morning I woke with an inborn sense of alarm. There was something very awry with the way the boat was lying in the water. Once attuned to a boat, a good sailor can immediately sense a condition which alters the norm. It is akin to an airplane pilot who can sense a malfunction of the engine long before it becomes serious merely by the variance in vibration or sound. Or a husband who knows hell is about to break loose just because of his wife’s change of attitude. I rose quickly slipped on a pair of jogging pants and went on deck.
God Almighty! The derelict which we were tied up to had been unfettered by its skipper and we were drifting out to sea with the outgoing tide. The dhow’s owner had decided to take it out on a fishing expedition in spite of its obviously unseaworthy condition. With nary a word of warning he cast off our lines, pushed us away and was trying to maneuver his watercanted craft away from the quay. As the engine controls had been disconnected on REBEL I could not, in the time available start the diesel.
I shouted and gestured excitedly to a native standing on the roadside hoping for his assistance. By this time Chris and Jeff, both half dressed, hearing the commotion had come on deck to help. We managed, just barely, to get a single line forward into the hands of one of the men in the gathering crowd on dock who had come to our assistance. He and about five others who answered my frantic call of distress tugged in on the rope and pulled the bow forward toward the dock.
Chris handled the forward rope and secured it while I went aft and retrieved the line which had been so casually thrown into the water by our helpful neighbor. By this time our stern had drifted out and swung around to the point where it was necessary for Jeff to take the line in hand and run forward to give it to one of the men on the dock. This permitted the stern to be pulled around parallel with the dock.
In the meantime the Captain of the dhow had managed to get himself in a position between REBEL and the next boat where he could barely turn. It took him the best part of an hour to extirpate himself from the untenable position which he had deliberately put himself in to by utterly disregarding another boat owner.
I was, at that time, quite sure he did not understand a word of the vilification that was being piled on him . . . but it made me feel better. We also exchanged mutual shaking-of-the-fist gestures which is an internationally understood standard symbol of extreme displeasure. The whole desperate scene started before 0500 in the morning and ended just before 0800. It was paramount that we set about to get the engine operational again.
That same afternoon during a self inflicted siesta we had a visitor which almost cost me the pleasure of the Admiral’s company right then and there.
I was lying prostrate on the fantail, semi dozing and Chris was reading on the super king-sized bunk in the master cabin. All seemed idyllic when, without the least warning, a blood curdling scream came from below followed by the sound of all hell breaking loose.
Rushing to the cabin prepared for the worst a scene came to view which would have done justice to a Marx brothers flick. There was Chris, broom in hand, chasing a rat the size of a medium housecat around the cabin as she emitted a stream of epithets which had not been learned recently while sailing. (Chris had been raised on a cattle ranch.) She lashed out viciously and at random at the errant animal which was emitting horrible cries of anguish as it did its best to escape. It was prudent to stay out of the cabin while this scene was unfolding mainly in order to keep one’s hide intact. The rat finally made it back up to the porthole from whence it had come and squealing in sheer terror, clambered out!
Chris, now as white as Crisco shortening, sank back on the bunk in a state of angry semi-shock. She couldn’t speak but kept gasping and pointing toward the porthole.
“You didn’t see it,” she finally managed to blurt out. “You just didn’t see it!” She caught her breath. “My God,” she convulsed, “I was just lying there reading when I heard this chattering sound. There on the shelf under the port-hole . . . staring right at me with his little beady red eyes jumped down inside on the bed and then took off!” Here she paused momentarily. “Then he did it!”
“What?” I tried to be as serious as the moment called for.
“He stood right there in the middle of the bed and shit.” Her voice dripped with disgust. “Rat shit on the bed where I have to sleep!”
Unable to contain myself any longer, I laughed. “Hell, Chris, you literally scared the stuff right out of the poor little critter! I saw the whole thing!”
She gave me a look which would have done justice to Jack the Ripper just before doing his thing and spat out, “Enough is enough!” She looked at the guilty pile on the bed. “Look at that! There it is!” she said with obvious horror as she pointed at the several small piles of rat feculent.
Using a small piece of Kleenex I removed the evidence while she rose and headed up the ladder to the deck still mumbling to herself. Jeff had been watching all of this. Still chuckling to myself, I joined her after disposing of the details. She lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply and lay back with her head on the rail.
“No civilized person in their right mind would endure one more moment of this kind of thing. And, you laughed!”
Jeff, after listening and watching with great interest, put in his two cents. “Mom, if you had just knocked it out, I could have put it in a cage and had a pet.”
“God! He’s getting so he sounds just like you!”
“Maybe another one will come aboard, huh Dad?”
“No, son. I suspect that the rat is bound to have lots of friends and associates to whom he will relate his close call with the grim reaper. As a result of this single excursion and the mad encounter with your mother, I find it hard to believe that a single rat will ever dare set foot aboard as long as we remain in port.”
Each day we spent in port seemed to have its own little delights. The day following the rat incident, things started happening which did nothing to improve Chris’ well being. My sense of humor kept me going and, much to the consternation of Chris, Jeff was beginning to develop his own much in the same light.
It seems that at dawn the Captain who had cast us off adrift returned. I had taken to sleeping in my jogging pants so that a fast trip to the deck wouldn’t shock the populace with any general state of undress. Besides, since the incident, my sleeping attire didn’t seem to matter too much as Chris did not care much for my company. The quarter berth became my bunk of first resort. This morning I had been wakened abruptly with the sound of a crash against the side of REBEL. I couldn’t believe what greeted my eyes as I arrived on deck. The same derelict dhow had returned to its scene of infamy and was backing up for another run at us. He was ramming us!
It was a good thing the rifle had been checked in with the police ashore because this would have been a reason to use it. He was methodically backing up getting a running start and ramming our pulpit.
“What in hell are you trying to do,” I shouted as he prepared for the next run. This time he spoke in broken English.
“You are in my prace. You reave now!”
He had already ripped up part of the pulpit and more damage was certainly imminent in the hands of this madman.
“If you don’t stop, I will not be able to move,” I retorted with certain desperation. Then my anger brimmed over.
“If you do it again, I’ll board you and kick the living hell out of you!”
Most Taiwanese men are not much over five feet in height and I stood six foot three and weighed a little over two hundred pounds. He evidently knew enough English that this threat caused him to back off and reflect on possible personal ramifications. Contrary to popular opinion most orientals do not know or practice martial arts so he was at a decided disadvantage.
“I give you ten minutes to leave my prace,” he said briskly and proceeded to back out and stand off in a threatening position. I couldn’t help but note the similarity between his eyes and that rat’s eyes.
No help from the harbor police. They informed me that the fishermen were a law unto themselves and I had best move. The engine was started and we cast off and headed out into the harbor. Harbor Control advised that they had sent the agent (also now riding a motor scooter) to find us another spot. He’d have to find us first as we weren’t about to hang around and get rammed again! We wandered around until we hailed a gentlemen who stood on a well kept fishing dock. It turned out that he was the owner and he offered us refuge until the fleet returned. REBEL was tied up alongside. The place looked first class. Things were looking up. This facility had guards and dockside water. Our scooter riding agent never did find us until the day we sailed. Neither did the authorities.
Take it off, take it off, cried the boys from the rear
Take it off, take it off, it was all you could hear.
But she was always a lady even in pantomine
So she stopped. . . but always just in time!
... Queenie (ASCAP)
That night we went out on the town secure in our belief that all was well. After a hard night of playing, we woke at around 1000 hours to the droning sound of a crowd outside. While nothing sounded urgent or ominous, the happenings of the previous morning were sufficiently traumatic as to cause my protective instincts to well.
There was a crowd of at least 50 or so men women and children standing on the quay next to the yacht excitedly talking and gawking. This type of crowd stayed with us all the time we were parked there. It became increasingly more difficult to keep them off the boat.
I had been going over the charts when came the sound of a commotion on deck. Chris had been sitting in the cockpit reading when about 10 people unceremoniously jumped on board. One of them had on hob-nail boots and sported a crowbar with which he proceeded to delight the crowd by going around briskly hitting the top and sides of the fiberglass cabin to show his friends how well the Taiwanese build boats.
Chris jumped up grabbed the guy and proceeded to physically push him off the boat . . . crowbar and all! I asked the guards to please keep the people off. It helped for a while. (I suspect the guards were charging for a sneak aboard.)
Croome and his wife came by and asked us to go to dinner. Chris took Jeff below and he took a hot shower. . . to be his last before sailing. I had gone forward to try and repair some of the damage to the running fights which had been done by the mad fisherman and was busily working when there came yet another sounds of commotion . . . this time from Chris! I rushed on deck after taking one short look at the situation. There was Chris standing in the master’s cabin . . . stark naked and cursing a blue streak.
It seems that she had taken a shower after Jeff. The sliding hatch above the cabin was open which is usual in warm weather. Normally this afforded privacy from the docks . . . but not from aboard. When she came out of the shower she sat on the bed without a stitch of clothes on when she heard this tittering sound. About a half dozen Chinese men had sneaked on board and were hanging with their heads down peering into the cabin at the show below.
The words she leveled at the laughing men as they scrambled off the boat are essentially unrepeatable. Something about occidental women being built the same as oriental women, I think. Come hell or high water we had to get out of there and into civilization again before all the stories that had been told throughout the centuries were totally refuted.
We decided to leave with short crew (just Chris, Jeff and myself), a self steering vane which didn’t work, and minor faults too numerous to mention At least the bilge pumps worked. As we pulled away from the dock under power there was a loud SNAP and the engine started racing. The coupling between the engine and the drive shaft had broken! Lines were quickly thrown ashore and we were again pulled into the berth.
We found the problem quickly. Taiwanese boat building can be said to be a cross between a Chick Sales manufacturing technique and Mickey Mouse engineering. The keyway holding the drive shaft was so poorly designed and fitted that it wore down and the engine rotated freely without engaging the shaft. We would get no help there so, with Croom’s assistance, we wangled another key knowing that it too would fail until the coupling was redesigned. It was in this crippled condition that we headed towards the customs dock some three hours late to our schedule.
Besides the bill for the agent who couldn’t find us a home and the representative of the yacht broker who charged by the hour, the government of Taiwan charged us an extraordinary expense of $175.00 for “escort services” provided by the ROC navy who so kindly helped us make it into the harbor under the sights of their 3 inch gun. For us, Taiwan had turned out to be the Inn of Zero Happiness!
As we left the confines of the harbor, I mentally assessed our present condition. A minimum of a week’s sail under optimum conditions to Manila, a boat whose engine was running fitfully, a single hand-operated bilge pump, a faulty drive shaft, no self steering and a crew consisting of a single man of limited physical abilities, a woman of limited sailing experience who hated sailing and a ten year old boy! Hopefully we wouldn’t hit bad weather. In spite of the marginal circumstances we all felt better to be back to sea again with the lights of lovely hospitable Taiwan disappearing in the haze behind us.4
It was nightfall on April 27 and the wind was coming from the wrong direction. . . and, the honeymoon was over!
|Part IV||Part V|
|Chapter 2||Chapter 3|