Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

The never-ending project to fill my hole in the ocean while bailing it out

2003 Knockdown

"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

The 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.

We 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.

I cut the rudder quickly pointing Chip Ahoy back out to sea: he changed direction too again, still heading right at me and closing!

I 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 those 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 second.

Chip 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!

What 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.

DaveRizzo.jpg (191198 bytes)

Dave Rizzo
Click photo to enlarge