31 October 2006

Of Airhorns & Tillers

It's been long enough since the event that I can write about it now. I'm still a bit embarassed, but that's why I have a blog...an outlet to anonymous readers about my foibles on the water.

And the first of the two is for my usual reason: I'm a cheap bastard. I've had a worry about using airhorns for years since the first few weeks that I had Polka Dot -- I apparently snuck up on a sailing instructor with my loud as hell outboard leaving the marina. He mimic'd an airhorn at me as some sort of surreal admonition for not informing him of my approach.

So, I always think, "I'm going to airhorn some day just like the rules require". My day was Sunday, leaving the slip I spot a J24's mast coming down the row that may or may not be able to see me, so I send a minion down below to grab an airhorn. This is where my frugality comes into play. When I bought the boat it had all the CG-required gear but I bought new stuff anyway. I kept the old airhorn just in case...why throw away a perfectly good airhorn. Hah, I have a reason and it sounds like this "OOOONNNNNNKKKKKKKKNNNNNKKK OOOONNNNKKKKOOOOOOONNNNNKKKKK" and so on for about 90 seconds until I could get the button unstuck.

Everyone in the marina is looking at me like I'm insane as I desperately try to turn the thing off, all the while pantomiming to the crowd "the button's stuck the button's stuck". Of course you say, throw the damned thing in the water, but I'm fairly certain that a cannister of compressed air would float. I don't know that for absolute certain but I am pretty sure.

So, I get the thing unstuck and now the marina is full of the sound of my crew laughing at me. That's right, at me. Ingrates. Mutinous Ingrates. Problem two from the stuck button disaster, I haven't been paying attention to anything but the button for 90 seconds and I'm about to hit a boat with right of way. The only thing I can do is gun the engine and cross him while he's under sail. So now, I'm one of "those guys". Sheesh.

So all gets settled down during the pre-start of the race. I've decided to join a bit closer to the scrum to get a better start. Crew-work is good, boat speed if fine, and the newly 6 year old tactician checked the flgas and is writing down the course.

90 seconds to go, tack around to head back to the line. One little thing I didn't mention, Camille's Nana (my mother in law) is sitting with Camille in her position by the backstay. Not a real problem, other than the extra weight (extra weight compared to just Camille, Nana is actually fairly petite) has the scuppers under water so the back of the cockpit is a bit wet. So, mid-tack, I lose helm control, look back and there's Nana huddling on the cockpit floor looking like she's comforting Camille. And, sitting on the tiller. Did I mention she's sitting on the tiller?

I'm freaking out that my daughter is injured, there are boats all over the place, the wind is blowing, the seas are rolling, and my Mother in Law is sitting on my tiller. How I wished I had the airhorn then.

Turns out nobody was injured, just a slip mid-tack; Camille took her Nana down below to play cards and we were only about a minute or two late to the line. We got the bad stuff out of the way pre-race, the best way to prepare. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.


Anonymous said...


Glad the ladies are okay...

BTW, even a cheap ba**** like you may want to invest in a good product. I'd recommend the EcoHorn, which you can get down at your local Worst Marine chandlery. The beastie is a re-fillable air horn, which fills using a bicycle pump. Works in nice short, controllable bursts. :D

Very loud and very good to the environment. Also, very economical, as you don't have to keep buying the nasty compressed gas canisters to go with it. Also, mine and all the ones I've seen are bright RED and float, in case you drop it overboard. You can see it here.

Zen said...

Yacht club dues quarterly...$150.00
Yacht club startup fee... $500.00
Air horn that works...pricele$$

hahaheheheha hehehehahahahehah

sweet! LoL