Keelhauled

We launched the boat last Friday and put it on our mooring in Nettle Bay, French St. Martin. She’s been undergoing repairs for three years, three months, after she was damaged by hurricane Gonzalo. We use our 11ft Boston Whaler as a tender, but the hurricane stripped the beach outside our apartment block of sand and dumped it all just off shore. Depending on the state of the tide, that means we have to drag the Whaler through the shallows before it will float and we can lower the outboard. The shallows are uneven and there are deep holes all over the place. Also there’s lots of debris such as twisted zinc sheets from the roofs, bits of railings and chunks of boats half buried in the sand. These are really difficult to see in low light, and this was in the evening. I managed to drag the Whaler through the shallows but needed to pull it sideways towards me to clear a really shallow patch. As I walked backwards, I tripped over a twisted pipe on the bottom and began to fall backwards. My instinct was to hold onto the Whaler and pull myself upright, but just then the Whaler slipped off the sandbank and came at me in a rush, knocking me off my feet and backwards into a deep hole. I went right under and my legs came up under the back of the Whaler, which was covered in barnacles. The Whaler went over me and the blood began to flow. Fortunately there are no Great Whites in the lagoon. My wife and a friend helped me out of the water. On the plus side, my iPhone, in its waterproof case, was fine. My mp3 player was not so lucky. I showered, bathed the wounds in Dettol solution, put on fresh clothes and relaunched the Whaler, carefully. The next morning, when I came ashore, we got a good look at the physical damage and my wife went into nurse mode with dressings and antibiotic cream. Eight days have passed and only one, a deep gouge not a cut, is causing a little concern. That injury, and one on a toe, will leave me with a couple of permanent scars to add to the rest. In effect, I keelhauled myself! 🙂

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Author: roguesway

Journalist and Broadcaster. Editor of All At Sea Magazine. Yachtsman. Author of Caribbean High & Caribbean Deep; Biscay: Our Ultimate Storm & The Lucky Lady Cookbook

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