16 August 2006

Seabiscuit leaving soon

From the forum at Duckworks Magazine:

"Hi All! Have had some delays, with my ground crew quitting and problems with the sails, but I am just about finished hand-stiching a new set and have hired a new ground crew AND a back-up ground crew to get me to testing grounds and launch point. The new date of departure is the weekend of the 19th and 20th of August. A bit late but still inside my planned window of opportunity. I would like to remind everyone that my satellite unit may lose power at some stage during the voyage. Water and electricity are not good mates. This does NOT mean that anything is wrong. DO NOT report me missing under ANY circumstances. I shall try to get word out with my VHF to passing ships who will hopefully relay messages to my spouse. I will have her send updates to Chuck so he can keep you informed. -Harley"

Does this seem like some elaborate hoax to anyone else? Setting us up with, "you may not hear from me but seriously I'm out there trying to flag down freighters but whatever you do don't report me missing." Because then, you know, somebody might go out there to see where he is and not find him.

I really doubt he's going to be sitting on some tropical island drinking mai tais waiting for his chance to return triumphantly but it is possible. Anybody ever read A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols? It's about the first solo nonstop round the world race; in this race, Donald Crowhurst spends the whole duration of the race tooling around the Atlantic, keeping 2 separate logs...a fake one to show everyone after the race and the real one of what he actually did. When it came time to return to England, he ended up committing suicide after the pressure got to be too much for him.

This Harley character seems to really know his sailing history so I'm sure he knows about this and I really really doubt this is his intention but he just seems to be setting us up for this possibility (not the suicide but the faked circumnavigation). Points against him: 1) the improbability of sailing around the world in a poorly conceived home-built boat, 2) the peanut butter and plankton diet, 3) the "don't rescue me" pitch, 4) the nobody knows for sure when I'm leaving gambit, 5) the "my wife will be the only one to know where I am" bit, 6) the camouflage of the boat giving plausible deniability about why no freighters ever saw him (too small for radar, painted the same color as the ocean), and 7) did I mention the boat?

If he's really going, I sure do admire his spirit. Harley, I'd say keep the lead side down, but I'm pretty sure you don't have a keel on the Seabiscuit. So, "fair winds and keep the chine side down".


Tillerman said...

Geeze - it was almost an hour after you posted before I hit you. Was out sailing. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, is this guy for real? I first found out about him when he started posting on the forum at The Captain Humphrey Project under the pseudonym Captain Nemesis. The Humphrey Project is clearly an elaborate hoax. I can't work out whether this guy is a better hoaxer or for real or just plain nuts.

But then for some days I'm not sure if I'm for real, either.

Carol Anne said...

You're in the Bay Area, so you're right close to the Mythbusters. You could have Adam and Jamie check things out.

Interesting thing: When they were checking out whether whirlpools could sink ships, they went to witness an actual whirlpool ... guess where? The southern pier of the Golden Gate Bridge. Yup, they checked out the Demon.

What the Mythbusters found was that no naturally occurring whirlpool could sink a freighter or fishing trawler, but that something smaller, such as an individual swimmer, would definitely get sucked under. They didn't do any tests with sailboats, but somebody else already did that.

Zen said...

One of those things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Sounding kind of fishy... we'll just have to see what happens.