"Here lies the body of Michael O'Day,
Who died maintaining the right-of-way;
He was right -- dead right -- as he sailed along
But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong."
Source: Yachtsman's Omnibus
by H. A. Callahan
Chapter XXVII, Page 275
Rules of the Road -- Right-Of-Way
The MacMillan Company, New York
© 1932 - 10th Printing, 1968
closest I've come to losing it with Chip Ahoy was one Sunday
close off the coast of Marblehead with a brisk offshore breeze.
That day I had a friend, Dave, along -- and fortunately he's an
experienced racing crewhand.
were on a starboard reach; another sailboat, much larger --
40-foot or so -- was heading toward us in the near distance,
bow-on. Though I had the right of way, I watched as it came
closer to see if he'd give way. In hindsight, I don't think the
skipper even knew we were there, straight in front of him.
Discretion being the better part of valor, I cut the rudder and
aimed the boat upwind toward shore: incredibly he changed
direction just then too, right at me again.
cut the rudder quickly pointing Chip Ahoy back out to sea: he
changed direction too again, still heading right at me and
swung back quickly toward shore, more into the wind, hoping to
dodge him. He kept coming at me.
Directly in front of me, suddenly broadside and only yards away
now, he just stopped, luffed. In desperation I cut my tiller
hard to port, the wind caught us hard, and over went Chip Ahoy
-- boom in the water, rails and coaming awash, ocean pouring
over my lap and into the cockpit, well over ankle deep. In that
split second just before taking a bath, I released the main
sheet and -- incredible! -- Dave loosed the jib sheet, let it
fly. My first thought was being thrilled that I'd just installed
transom scuppers as the ocean drained out of the cockpit. My
second thought was, I should have had at least the
lower cribboard secured in place -- though ocean never
entered the cabin, but not by much! It's amazing how many
thoughts the human mind can process in a disastrous split
Ahoy righted itself, we hauled in and tightened the sheets
instantly, and cleared the 40-footer's transom by mere feet.
Needless to say, I spewed invectives like a pirate at the
skipper, his buddy, and the two babes all doing cocktails and
cluelessly wondering what this was all about!
most impressed me was Dave and his reactions. He knew what
needed to be done instinctively and acted without hesitation.
That, and the cockpit's ability to drain itself quickly, I still
believe saved the day and my boat.