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Thread: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

  1. #701
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    rufustr. You're one of the few who admits to reading this thread.
    36,138 Views! think about that number for a minute....

    Thanks for continueing to share this Mr. Dillon.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  2. #702
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Jack,

    Don't underestimate the pleasure you are giving to a huge number of people.

    This is really one of the highlights of this forum.

    Rufus.

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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Mr. Dillon,

    This thread is great. I live in Utah and have never rafted here, only in Wyoming. Looks like I need to take a trip to Moab this summer.

    Thanks for the great entertainment. I sit and quietly read assuming that I don't have anything worthy to add. The best thing to say at this point would be thank you and I love every installment. You do a great job of jumping back and forth in time. There are no problems for me and my little brain in following what is going on.

    Joe

  4. #704
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    With all the recent replies I betta produce something.

    Here goes :



    After lunch we struck out for some leg stretching and a hike to the Indian artifacts locale.



    It was a hot and dusty trail we trod

    It was hot. There was no wind to scatter the dust kicked up by trudging feet. The Colorado River seemed distant, totally out of earshot We were all dry by a sun which though past its zenith, still had energy to drub us with its oppressive heat. Shep promised some running water to cool off. We had our own bottled water to drink but the anticipation of a pleasant wade in a clear stream seemed like a luxury. My personal spill in the river was forgotten as the sun beat on its earthly anvil, our hiking party in between. The trail was winding into and amongst sculptured rocks. Suddenly, around one, via a well trodden path, there were the artifacts. In a way graffiti, but in this setting not offensive like the kind familiar to us today. This had a quality of endurance, a message of a culture giving voice to its inner thoughts for others not yet born.



    They tell a story can you read it ?



    Ancient Indian corn crib


    Examining them one could hardly tell when they were made.

    "At least five hundred years ago," chimed Clem’s wife.

    Shep said, "The other skippers are going to move the rafts down river a few miles on a easy stretch," adding, "We’re going back a different way to a small water fall and deep pool. This will give us all an opportunity to take a dip and even wash off some of the grit." He presented each of us with a hotel size bar of soap. Well, that was something to look forward to as the sediment some call mud filled my pores.



    One way to take a bath



    We all had to rapel down to the waiting rafts




    The sun here on Raoul Island was noticeably lower, filtering through the surrounding trees. Chuck glanced at his watch and declared:

    "OK, folks, time to get back aboard. The Thompson wants her chicks" There was a look of resignation on his face, as though the reality of his responsibilities sunk in.
    Pete wanted to hear more but took us into the radio room to update the latest forecast for the region. It droned on about highs and lows, fronts moving in and out, but the crux of it all was that some squalls were moving through the region but nothing major to be concerned about. The inmates of Raoul mimicked stowaways but resigned themselves to the island. As a departure gift Chuck broke out T shirts to the four, making them unofficial R.Tucker Thompson crew. It took two round trips on the tractor’s trailer to deposit us back on Lava Rock and for the inflatable to have us all aboard

    I glanced at a fattened up Bernie.

    "Ready for sea duty?" I asked.

    He was right next to me sprawled on the inflatable. His belly noticeably bulged as our craft bucked the small waves spawned by an on shore wind. The drone of the outboard drowned any discernable reply. Maybe there was burp. Back on board, James maned the anchor windlass. Its pawls clicked and clacked as chain came aboard raising the anchor.



    James prepares to"Cat the anchor"

    Cole skipped aloft casting off gaskets, loosening the top sails. Canvas once snugly furled now filled, emitting sounds like no other as trimmed sheets captured the wind. Soon we were moving under sail. Raoul faded away as if the whole island was swallowed by the coming night. It was dark by the time Mary got the evening meal ready to serve. The R. Tucker Thompson leaned to her business, the wind picking up as we settled on a close hauled course to the NNE. bound for Tonga. The watch order resumed as before with no changes.

    It was black that night, no stars glimmered. They were hidden by an unseen veil cloaking our world. Human existence was only aboard the Thompson, everything else a dream. Each soul aboard quiet, absorbed in their own thoughts. Perhaps dominated by the short respite we had just experienced. Was it real? The only clue to other life forms was a static crackling from the radio, occasionally sputtering about the weather in a robotic voice. Captain Thompson listened closely, teasing buttons and knobs for a coherent message. Bernie was below washing dishes, content, assuming he at last got his sea legs. He chatted softly with Mary who again reigned in her galley. Gunter, astern, was gazing out to sea. James was staring at a compass barely tilting on its pivot. Catherine alone, all the way forward, was looking ahead as though her future lay beyond the horizon.

    Toward the end of my watch stars started to break out of the veil. Like lovers, gentle waves kissed Thompson’s bow as she cleaved the South Pacific. Venus was heralding the coming dawn, a merest sliver of a moon emerged from the sea. A new dawn was soon to come as the Thompson sailed on, bound for Tonga.


    Next, At sea again,fresh fish & scrimshaw

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  5. #705
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thank you for this thread. I am still only on page 4! You solved my problem of having run out of decent authors for the time being. Keep it coming.
    Stay calm, be brave....wait for the signs. Possibly precariously prevaricating.
    .

  6. #706
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Yes thank you Jack...started at the beginning and still here...enjoying you memoirs very much and look forward to each new instalment.
    regards
    Robbie

  7. #707
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    I wasn't sure just where to pop this into the yarn , so decided to squeeze it in here between episodes.

    This image was posted before:



    When I got back home and all my slides sorted out I sent several to Ocean Navigator Magazine. They decided to use this one for their cover of the Nov/Dec 1993 issue.



    Lots of good stuff coming up , a spectular cave in Tonga, pennyless in Nukalofa. I win a sail boat race.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  8. #708
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    How great is that Jack?

    That is a really good photo too, something special.

  9. #709
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!



    JD enjoying the fine weather and pleasant sailing breeze

    The morning found the Thompson moving along in a friendly sea. By this time we had become adjusted to each other, settling in nicely, each finding a niche aboard. The warm sun and easy motion of the Thompson in harmony with her environment allowed some of her crew scrimshaw and leisure activities. Cole was a carver. He had his tools aboard and pieces of shell suitable for decorative carving. Tim had his trolling gear trailing astern of the Thompson. Bernie whittled a stick picked up on Raoul Island, of course using his Swiss Army knife. Jim boned up on some navigation books, some just read.



    Our crew was multi talented

    Hugh was snuggled up forward in his favorite retreat and wrote in his journal. He bunked below me and so far seldom mixed with the crew.

    Nearing mid day the wind had picked up. Relieved of my wheel trick, I climbed out to the end of the bow sprit and watched Capt. Thompson taking a meridian sight. Although we had Sat Nav, Todd preferred to keep a cautious eye on electronics and check it against a noon sight for latitude confirmation. We got to talking and he told me how in these waters one has to be especially careful as we are close to the 180o meridian. He recalled one incident that ended in disaster. The skipper of a yacht did not maintain a good DR position. He actually was in E. longitude but thought he was in W. longitude a whole day off in dates. Entering the wrong data gave a false position. Consequently he grounded on a reef, losing the boat. Todd turned and looked me squarely in the eye and, though totally off subject, asked me:

    "Are you divorced ?"

    "Yes," I replied, and after a brief pause, "11 years now."
    The bow waves accentuated the silence as though they were adding some constructive dialogue. Todd carefully put his treasured Plath in its case reverently. He didn’t turn his head towards me as he declared,

    "My wife filed for divorce just before we departed. I kind of knew it was coming. There are always signs, but I ignored them."

    Experience told me it was best to just listen. Coming from a divorce culture most of my friends are entering, midway, or well past that anguish. Todd stared to spill his heart. The Thompson quietly sailed on ignoring her skippers plight, perhaps even delighted as she would now have all of Todd’s attention.

    Astern there was some excitement and curiosity got to us. We ambled aft. Tim had caught a fish from his trolling line and Catherine was gutting it for dinner tonight.



    Catherine cleans the fish Tom caught

    Hugh hardly noticed as he continued scribbling away in his notebook. Stealthily the wind picked up but our motion for now was easy. Tom and Gunter chatted about how best to get all the speed the wind granted us, their racing instincts surfacing. Mary was singing below, and Chuck studied the chart of the Tonga archipelago we were soon to enter. Todd went below to supervise James’ sight reduction. Bernie was quiet. John flirted with Catherine as she did galley chores on deck mostly preparing our catch. All hands content in their own little world, the Thompson herself a kind of magic carpet protecting her crew while conveying them to wondrous places



    Portion of chart showing northern portions of the Tonga

    I examined my chart of the area. Our ultimate destination would be the tiny port of Neiafu located in the VaVa’u group Tonga. The chart had all kinds of useful information like:

    Variation 13o 8' ( 1985 ) East Annual change 2'W
    Soundings in meters

    The dates of the latest volcanic activities on the many tiny islands

    Currents between the various islands

    Unpronounceable names with some English words mixed in like, "Late Island", or "Disney reef".

    The usual data is boxed on the chart with reference to Admiralty publications,

    "cautions" referring to current variables, magnetic anomalies, and uncharted coral heads. We were soon to sail not in the open sea free of obstructions but into shoal waters requiring careful pilotage.





    The coming weather didn't bode well

    By sundown the wind and sea were definitely picking up but this time there was a noticeable steepness to the waves that didn’t bode well.


    Next Foul weather and I chicken out

    JD






    .




    .
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  10. #710
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Nice, keep it coming JD.

  11. #711
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Ok Charlie, and other repliers ...viewers. I haven't forgotten about posting an installment. I got it written but am working on the "art" for an exciting action packed and illustrated installment.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  12. #712

    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thanks for the writing. It's a great read.

    Todd

  13. #713

    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by cs View Post
    JD I've been thinking for the past few years that when the kid gets in college that I want to move to the Pacfic and start a sailing charter. The way I think it that we will be land based somewhere and sail around the Pacfic. Out for maybe 3 or 4 months at a time.

    Chad
    This is for Chad and everyone else who needs a.....push

    http://livingworkingaboard.com/viewtopic.php?p=18#18
    Last edited by captainconrad; 03-18-2009 at 12:38 PM. Reason: changing picture url

  14. #714
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    I was warm and snug in my bunk but the more pronounced motion reminded me we were at sea, not secure in a safe anchorage. My bunk boards pressed into my side as the healing of the Thompson forced my body over almost like she was saying,

    " Get out of the bunk you fool, I’m over pressed.".

    I knew Todd had the watch so the ship was under good care. But the feel of the vessel was different. My stomach reacted as the Thompson reared up and just as quickly fell down slamming into the bottom of a wave’s trough. I could feel it as the vessel shivered but quickly rose answering the laws of physics and buoyancy, only to yield abruptly to gravity. The Thompson groaned and creaked, her only voice of protest, but continued forward almost reluctantly obeying her captain.
    Sleep was fitful, just stolen moments. In my heart I knew things would have to change as the Thompson leaned further to port. I was on my side, caught in a wedge of side boards and bunk bottom. Then the deafening sound of thunder overwhelmed high wind shrieks and a deluge of driven rain pounded the deck, as the ship healed sharply, but recovered. My eyes were fully open. I heard feet on decking over me as the Thompson shook. It was like a terrier had her in his mouth. I at once knew the head sails were luffing by that booming sound of heavy canvas shaking. I quickly donned my foul weather gear and went on a deck illuminated by lightening stabbing the sea all around us. We were in a squall. The watch on deck was overwhelmed. I couldn’t distinguish one person from the another. Some were lowering the main for reefing. One, or was it two, had lowered the topsails and clewed them up. Others came on deck. Thunder boomed all around us reminding me of my Bermuda passage. The sea was in chaos. The Thompson reared like an angry horse, not fully reigned in and almost out of control. Seeing the main sail still needed reef points tied I sprung to the task. Once secured, Chuck, at the wheel, bore off to get some steerage way and regain control. Todd said,

    "The top sails need to be furled!"

    I glanced at them. They were flapping madly, clewed and bunt lines taut. The wind shook the topmast needlessly. Cole was out on the bowsprit furling the jib. We still carried the staysail. Without thinking I piped up,

    "I’ll do it!"

    Todd looked at me. I could read his mind as he hesitated...Jack is the only non paid crew member that had gone aloft at all. But maybe his age?...

    I was the eldest aboard. The furling needed to be done and soon, too much shaking threatens everything. The Thompson reared and bucked pitching in a steep sea. She demanded attention. Could it wait till Cole got off the bow sprit? Jim was available and started to go for the foremast shrouds. It would be better for two to do the job, much quicker and less shaking. These thoughts must have raced through Captain Thompson’s mind as well..
    A distant bolt of lightening lit the scene. He looked me in the eye, his face whipped by wind driven rain and said.

    "OK."

    Just then the thunder reached us punctuating his answer as though a command from God.
    I wondered at my own judgment but followed James up the foremast’s windward ratlines. I volunteered so there was no backing down now. The shrouds felt cold and wet in my hands. Strangely, I was not fearful. There was no time for the mindless fear some call panic. Nevertheless adrenalin was coursing through my veins as the gravity of my decision bore into my brain. With each ratline mounted higher, the Thompson’s pitching increased, threatening to cast me loose into the sea. I’d been up plenty of ladders working in the construction trade. So this one shook a little. I kept going, resolving to just grip tighter. Jim was already past the cross trees. Lightening flashed. He had no foul weather gear on. Rain poured all around, but in torrents from his body, gleaming for an instant in each flash. I could see his torso surging forward and backward tossed by the Thompson as she pitched in the steep seas. He paused, regaining his balance, seeking the right instant to reach out to grasp the jackstay and feel for the foot rope suspended from the yards. His muscles were wet, glistening in the lightening flashes. My intent focus on him diverted my attention as I was almost torn loose from the shrouds. As I regained my grip, a flash revealed he was out on the yard bent over and pulling on canvas, feet firmly on the foot rope. I continued up to the cross trees. Its solid feel was welcoming compared to the yield of the ratlines but this station was just a platform, a place to pause. I reflected,

    "This is a whole new ball game. It’s different climbing aloft when the ship is still in an anchorage or against a dock or even in lazy sailing weather but now in a squall, I had to get out onto a shaking yard’s flimsy foot rope and pull in sail while passing a gasket around it all."

    Jim seemed born to it. He rode the jolting steed beneath him, both hands busy . His body seemed glued to the topsail yard as hands flashed to the job. I hesitated as my inner demons of conscience shouted. One said,

    "Get out there, lend a hand! "

    The other said,

    "Don’t be a fool, he can handle it, you’re sixty three."
    Followed by,

    "You wanted the full experience of a sailor, now’s ya chance!"

    I climbed the topmast shrouds pausing opposite the yard. The Thompson sensed my dilemma, and managed to slacken her motion for a second, pausing her wild gyrations as if to encourage action on my part. I grasped the jackstay atop the yard and was about to grope for the foot rope beneath. The thunder cracked but no lightening flashed to help guide my feet to the rope. The Thompson pitched, lurching me. I missed. Suddenly there was nothing under either foot. I was dangling over an angry sea suspended by an arm and hand clamped to the yard.



    Suddenly there was nothing under either foot. I was dangling over an angry sea suspended by an arm and hand clamped to the yard.

    One hand groped for something else to grasp, to pull me higher, to get my foot within range of that weight relieving foot rope. My feet wiggled, searching for the life saving rope. Now the Thompson seem to restrain her motion long enough for me to find the foot rope to regain some control of the situation. Seeing my ineptness Jim shouted,

    "Go back to the cross trees, I can handle it!"
    I nodded my reply and gained a more secure hold, thinking, I’m not quite up to all of the sailor’s life, and comforting myself with, maybe with seasoning I could do this, but few sixty three year olds go aloft in these conditions. Then those inner demons blared forth again.

    "**** ! You should have just swung up on the yard and furled the sail. What are you?"

    Countered by,

    "You did the sane thing and listened to reason. Jim said to go back. Don’t feel so bad."

    I had a new understanding of "Wooden ships and iron men". They faced hazards like this many times, enduring skimpy pay, lousy food, indifferent owners and sometimes cruel officers. Here I faced just one. Out of nowhere, Jim was joined by Cole. Together they finished up furling both topsails, each scampering aloft like a pair of squirrels. Ah youth, I thought.
    Meekly, I retreated to the deck and faced my shipmates, an inept old fool. It was like they didn’t know what happened aloft . Each had focused on their own problems on deck. They never looked upward. But Todd knew. He had kept an eye on me and said,

    "Good try, Jack," as he laid his arm on my back. "I don’t like it up there myself when it gets nasty."

    In about an hour things settled down. The squall had passed, just showing some distant thunder and flashes over the horizon. Bernie was paying his final homage to Neptune, his sea legs not quite evolved.

    I asked Todd,

    "I can understand a squall sneaking in on us, especially at night, but that pitching in square waves?"

    He at once understood my question and replied,
    "Our log showed we were doing 9 kts. but the Sat Nav said, 7 kts."

    "A foul current," we both said simultaneously.
    Todd added,

    "We had an abrupt wind shift as the line squall headed us. There were predictions of this on the area forecast and this one had our name on it."

    The air became noticeably cooler. Low scudding clouds still raced by as we continued hard on the starboard tack heading maybe a bit to the east of our rhumb line.

    Next Tofua

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  15. #715
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Fantastic story Jack.

    Most wouldn't have gotten as far as the yards, and it's a wise man who withdraws to reconsider the situation when he has a big fright, .

    I spend a fair bit of my life working at heights that would land me in hospital if I fell, and I don't know if I would be able to get as far up the rigging as you did.

    That's something I ponder every time I look at a tall ship.

    Thanks for that episode, and get the next installment ready.

    Please.
    Last edited by rufustr; 03-24-2009 at 04:06 PM.

  16. #716

    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Jack,

    Thanks again for the story. One of my dreams is to work on a square rigger aloft. I'm 42 now, better do it soonish or I might not be up for it.

    Todd

  17. #717
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Jack have you seen this excerpt from an email sent out by Scot?
    In need of a bit of entertainment? Don't miss "Into the Heart of Darkness" by Cullen T.M. McGough, posted on our WoodenBoat Forum. It's short, but quite a treat. Then you might want to mosey over to the Misc. Boats section, and start in on Jack Dillon's 11 Years on a 27 footer. It has a big following, and Jack has been adding installments since 2007. Take note of the number of "views" of that thread!
    As always thanks, I am humbled by your commitment to my original inquiry. Will you be coming to Mystic this year?
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  18. #718
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Paul, Thanks for the alert. I will be attending the boat show this year maybe on Friday. I missed it all last time due to some health problems. I do enjoy reviving my memories and getting them out to share with others. If I wasn't prompted by your urging I never would have done it.

    Thanks to Scott for the "plug"

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thanks again Jack; just putting this back on top where it belongs.
    I see beauty in the mundane, others are blind to what I see ~ clancy

  20. #720
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    The sun rose, it gleamed red like jewels shining through thousands of droplets hanging from Thompson’s rigging, spars and sails. It was like a New England autumn dawn, water still dripping following a rain. Last night’s squall washed away the dust that invaded us from Raoul island. The ship had an easy motion. I sensed she too enjoyed that clean feeling, like an absolution that washed away our sins. Bernie was steering with a hungry look on his face. He paid his final dues to Neptune last night and now had his sea legs. Standing nearby Gunter squinted at the compass like a parent overseeing a child. John and Chuck scanned a chart spread on a hatch. The sea murmured a contented sound yielding to the Thompson’s bow pressed by a firm wind kicking up a dollop now and then. All was well aboard the Thompson.
    Todd emerged from below followed by Catherine drafting up the smell of coffee and bacon. He announced we were averaging 9 kts. and settled weather in the fore cast. The ship’s routine was well established and after a hearty breakfast each of us off watch engaged in our own activities
    Hugh curled up with his journal forward,



    Hugh liked to read

    Catherine busied herself with a galley chore on deck.



    Catherine doing galley chores

    Chuck again poured over the chart but more intently this time as he walked off his dividers across its surface hitting an island called Tofua. He paused momentarily making a mental calculation and spoke up in a soft voice,

    " We should raise Tofua this evening."

    There was a knowing tone in his voice as if we were to fully understand its significance. I knew it was to be our next landfall but I sensed it was more than that. My mind mulled over the word Tofua. Tofua. But nothing came up. I was too embarrassed to ask so just let it brew internally hoping something would come up.
    I looked at the chart again examining its details which seemed insignificant. It was a small volcanic island about 5 miles in length and 506 meters in elevation ( 1,660 feet ) with a lake in its crater, a smaller island just to the north of it, with some reefs.



    Tofua island

    Just another island, I thought, but it still haunted me. There was something else to it and what- ever it was still resided in my memory waiting for a clue to restore it to conscious revelation. I glanced at my shipmates that were within earshot of the word pronounced by Chuck. Tofua. They gave no clue and seemed as ignorant as I. Our attention was diverted as Hugh announced that porpoise were beneath the jib boom playing with our bow wave.



    An ocean passage wouldn't be complete without these critters

    The Thompson rolled on, her speed increased in a gently rising wind as though she too was anxious see Tofua.
    Tim was aft, his trolling gear astern. He watched it carefully trying to estimate just how far astern he should stream it. Cole tinkered with his cameo carving.



    Cole was an artist as well as a sailor

    Chuck was looking over the chart and Gunter and Todd were scanning aloft each quietly estimating just how well the sails were set . Both top sails were trimmed in hard as we were close hauled and just about able to keep a course bound to the east side of Tofua. Like a tune constantly humming in one’s mind that one is helpless to rid of, Tofua kept ringing in my ear. I knew of it, but from where still eluded me. I strolled over to Chuck intending not to ask directly about the island and maybe he would inadvertently drop a hint that would jog my ageing brain.

    "Not much of an island," I said.

    "Yes," Chuck replied. His focus was now further north on the Vava’u group.

    No clue there I thought. He probably didn’t know which island I was fishing for. Perhaps a WW II related island, but no, that war didn’t come near here. Captain Cook’s name is riddled throughout the Pacific Ocean. He explored and charted it quite throughly. Many of the very charts we use today are based on his surveys. In fact, this group was once known as the "Friendly Islands".
    I spoke out loud the words "Friendly Islands." This must have caught Chuck’s attention. He said;

    "Not friendly at all in Cook’s time. It was misnamed and the natives here were quite warlike."

    "But Cook was murdered in Hawaii," I replied.

    Chuck countered, "You’re right Jack, but Captain Bligh suffered his only loss of life during his epic boat voyage in this group."
    All at once it hit me, my memory jogged by the name of "Bligh". Books devoured as a boy rushed to the fore. I blurted out,

    "Bligh’s only commerce with the natives was on Tofua, where one of his crew members was stoned to death.. It was right after the mutiny.

    Chuck added, "Yes the mutiny happened just about thirty miles NE of Tofua. We’ll be going right through those waters some time tonight."
    He added ,

    "We have all the Bounty books below in the library."

    I dove below and picked out one, "Men Against the Sea". "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Pitcarins Island" were put aside for now. Eagerly, I started reading:



    Above excerpted from Nordoff and Halls "Men against the Sea" is the start of one of the most epic survival stories of the sea.


    Next, more about the mutiny, Bligh, Christian, and the 23' launch, home to 19 desperate men for 41 days across 3,600 miles of the South Pacific. Which one the hero and which one the victim?

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  21. #721
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Jack,

    You sir, tell a very rivoting yarn. I sure do love reading your stories. Please keep adding to them.

    thank you for all the effort.

    Eric

  22. #722
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Fascinating Jack, thanks for that, I love your tale.

    Here is a link to a group intending to reenact Bligh's voyage in the open boat.

    They were at the Wooden Boat Show in Hobart this year.

    http://www.bountyboat.com/




  23. #723
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thanks for that link. I for one will be following that adventure. It's interesting about the toilet paper bit. If I recall correctly toilet paper wasn't needed as so little to eat none aboard the launch had any "movement. " With a total of 18 men they had only 7" of free board. It was quite a feat and only possible with a man like Captain Bligh. Not only navigating , rationing, leading, charting along the way he kept a meticulous log and devised his own chip log.

    But more about the Bounty's launch later in this yarn I'm spinning.

    BTW will they be leaving from Tofua ?

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  24. #724
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    The website doesn't say specifically.

    I spoke to both the blokes in Hobart, and they are looking for two crew.

    I think it will cost any prospective crew $20000.00 to join the expedition.

    The last I heard the adventure has been delayed by 12 months as one of the guys has to have back surgery.

  25. #725
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Hey JD.

    I thought I'd remind you, it's time for a new installment.

  26. #726
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Got one coming soon, early this week.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  27. #727
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Damn, I saw your name on the post Jack, started salivating for the next episode,..... nothing....
    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

  28. #728
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Opening the pages of "Men Against the Sea" here in the very waters in which Bligh and eighteen of his shipmates were cast adrift had much meaning for me. It recalled a boyhood absorbed in these kind of books. I found a protected spot near the windlass. The sounds of the sea were a suitable background as the Thompson rolled and pitched, gently hurrying along on the starboard. tack Now as an adult I could think more of the motives of those involved in the mutiny rather then the adventure itself. What kind of men were Bligh and Christian? For me, Bligh was the more interesting character.

    Hunger and eight bells broke the spell of the book So absorbed I had become that I was unaware that Hugh was not far from me also with his nose in a book or journal. Curiosity must have gotten to him and he broke his silence.

    "Jack I haven’t seen you with a book at all. What are you reading?"

    "Oh a book about the Bounty loyalists and their survival."

    "Would that be "Men Against the Sea? "

    "Yes," I replied.

    "Yea, I’ve read them all. In fact, anything I could get my hands on concerning the whole Bounty business."

    It was like I opened an encyclopedia. He was a wealth of information, just waiting to pour forth to an appreciative ear.
    We took our sandwiches forward, tucked ourselves into a niche in the lee of the forward companionway.

    "I guess you know we will be passing Tofua this evening?" I asked.

    "Yes, it was one of the reasons I booked this passage. This whole archipelago interests me."

    Now I had a chance to see more of Hugh than just as someone who bunked below me. His face suddenly shone as he unfolded facts about Bligh.

    "You have to understand the man," he said. "Bligh was not born to title and came up through the ranks At sea at the tender age of seven and ablebodied seaman at sixteen, Bligh eventually secured a commission in the Royal Navy because of his exceptional navigational and cartography skills. Today you would call him a "Mustang." While you Americans were fighting for independence, Bligh was exploring the Pacific and the Northwest passage serving under Captain Cook aboard the HMS Resolution. The purpose of the Bounty’s voyage was to transplant the breadfruit plant from Tahiti to the West Indies to provide a cheap food for the slaves there. Bligh learned well from Captain Cook and became an innovative captain himself dividing the crew up into three watches. This gave men a better chance for eight hours of rest . He also forced the men to eat sauerkraut lessening scurvy amongst the crew. Bligh also knew the value of exercise and shipped a blind fiddler so that the men could dance to music. But ole Bligh had an explosive temper and coupled with a foul mouth he would berate even his officers, in front of the common sailor. This habit of tongue lashing would haunt him all his life. In the beginning Bligh and Christian were friends, even shipped together on other vessels. Bligh even loaned Fletcher Christian money as he and his whole family were constantly in debt. At the time of sailing aboard the Bounty, John Fryer was second in command but Christian was promoted over him to take that post and made Acting Lieutenant not long into the voyage. Neither had a commission and both were Warrant Officers along with the Bosun, Gunner, Sailmaker and others. This rank automatically excluded them from the "Cat". Flogging was standard practice in the Royal Navy at that time, but Bligh used it less often than other Captains including Cook. Bligh was a stickler for a clean ship and weather permitting, part of the shipboard routine was to unstow everything, scrub all interior regions of the ship with vinegar, and let the whole ship air out . There was never a foul smell aboard. When the Bounty reached Tahiti, Bligh attended and maintained political affiliations with local chiefs. He assigned Christian the duty of forming the shore work parties and gathering of the breadfruit. Christian had become enamored of one of the island chief’s daughters. Bligh became lax in keeping the orderly routine of the ship. He had trusted his Warrant officers to maintain the ship’s standards. But they let the chronometer run down, and never aired stored sails so they rotted in the tropical heat. Meanwhile his entire crew was enjoying the delights of the island. I assume they took their lead from Christian. Most of the men adapted to island life and routine quite easily even getting tattoos all over including their asses, which was the custom of the islanders." It was the five month stay in Tahiti with its easy eager women, plentiful food, and serene climate, that made the men reluctant to return to the harsh life aboard a British ship even though they would be homeward bound.

    I let Hugh roll on. I had unlocked this wealth of knowledge that he enjoyed talking about.

    He continued, "Bligh probably remained celibate. Many mutiny aficionados theorize he probably drank which could explain his not seeing lethargy in ships routine while in Tahiti. On the return voyage he personally on several occasions missed one of the Royal Navy’s honored custom of ordering general quarters at sunrise "

    Here aboard the Thompson the time passed quickly. Fleecy cumulus clouds appeared, carried on a fair wind that backed, allowing the topsails to fill easier. Eight bells were struck and Hugh had to go on watch. We agreed to later chat more about the Bounty and the whole affair.
    I digested what he told me and continued reading "Men Against the Sea". I came across one reference to Purcell, the ship’s carpenter. Upon landing on one islet in the Great Barrier Reef to get some shell fish, Purcell refused..






    My mind raced back to another sea epic of Endurance where Shackleton also had a rebellious carpenter by the name of Mc Neish who played a vital role in the survival of the expedition. On one occasion he voiced a negative opinion about dragging the sled across mountains of ice and snow. Shackleton never forgave that and denied Mc Neish the Polar medal and afforded him little recognition in the survival of his shipmates. Forgiveness was not a characteristic of Shackleton.




    The sun was dipping into the sea masked by clouds low on the horizon The Thompson, slowed down as the wind diminished. I was to have the 00:00 to 04:00 watch. Chuck came on deck at dusk. Behind him to the east, prominent stars were beginning to appear in the sky. A half moon just started to be distinguishable not casting any light but hovering, waiting to outshine the night sky. But some clouds looked menacing, threatening to blot out the heavens. I felt as though my upcoming view of Tofua could be thwarted Chuck came closer to me near the wheel and said,
    "We’ll have to push back our ETA of Tofua. Our speed over bottom has decreased. It won’t be until some time after midnight."

    Next more about the mutiny and its characters, Bligh and Christian etc.

    Coming soon, dancing girls of Tonga, a unique cave and pennyless in Nu'kalofa.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  29. #729
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Your knack of cliff hanger is becoming keener as you go...It is almost driving a man to drink I tell yah!!!

  30. #730
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thanks JD,

    I'll find a copy of "Men Against the Sea" and read it.

    Rufus.

  31. #731
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Bump Jack.

    (insert prod with elbow symbol here.)

  32. #732
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    The excitement Hugh and I felt about seeing Tofua Island was not shared by any of the crew, except maybe Chuck. After dinner below, Hugh and I met near the bow. He was off watch and I wasn’t to come on till midnight. The wind was just a whisper gently humming in the rigging, and the bow wave was just audible. Galley smells lingered even here, probably drafted up the forward hatch. They seemed out of place, like the flowery smell of tropical islands should be the dominant scent. No islands were in view, just the shimmering reflection of a half moon on a placid South Pacific ocean. Ragged clouds would block it out now and then. Like a battle between light and dark, the moon won most of the time casting swaying shadows across the deck as the Thompson sailed on. Hugh’s gaze was forward as he clutched a shroud. He spoke in soft tones as though unconsciously mimicking the mood of the sea. An occasional laugh from aft would poke into our world, not invasive in nature, but rather a reminder we were not alone. After a moment of silence to pause and reflect he spoke up,

    "I wonder just what was going on ...with Christian, I mean."

    I said nothing, my mind diverted to carnal things like a stomach rummaging its contents of shepherd’s pie. Hugh continued,

    "You know Jack, there were five major movies about the Bounty. Errol Flynn starred in one, but Mel Gibson’s version was the most accurate. Each of the other productions toyed with the truth. Like Bligh, played by Charles Laughton, captaining the HMS Pandora in the search for the mutineers. In reality, it was Captain Edwards, an able but genuinely cruel individual. The court room scenes in that production were close to reality but much shortened."

    The splash of a snorting porpoise breaking the surface under the bow broke into the sound of Hugh’s voice.

    "The Bounty was actually ninety feet long but the reproduction was built bigger to accommodate all the camera gear and people."

    Bounty Statistics ( Note Both statistics are listed , the original ship and the reproduction for the movie.)

    HMS BOUNTY
    HMAV BOUNTY
    Built
    1960-1961 at Smith & Rhuland Shipyard in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia Christened 8/28/1961
    Commissioned as HMAV Bounty in 1787 in Deptford Yard, 784 as Bethia in Hull, England 1784 as Bethia in Hull, England
    Gross Tonnage
    412 Registered Gross Tons
    (500 Displaced tonnage)
    215 tons
    Length Overall
    180'

    Length on Deck
    120'
    90' 10"
    Height of the Main Mast
    115'

    Draft
    13'
    13'
    Beam
    30'
    24'10"
    Freeboard
    12'
    12'
    Sails
    18+ (10,000 sq/ft)
    18
    Max Capacity
    12 underway, 150 on-deck, berthing for 49
    46 started the cruise
    Freshwater
    1,800 gallon storage, Water maker
    Rain
    Electronics
    GPS, VHF, SSB, one radar
    One sextant and a Kendall Chronometer
    Timber
    400,000 board feet

    Lines
    10 miles of rigging

    Cannon
    Four 4-pounder Carriage cannons,
    Four 4-pounders and 10 swivels
    Decks
    Three
    Three
    Anchors
    Two, 900 lbs each
    Two, 600 lbs each
    Electricity
    35 KW 208 3 phase
    Candles
    Galley
    Fully equipped and operational
    Adequate for the time
    Heads (Restrooms)
    Two â€" modern, and showers
    Head rail/chamber pot
    Safety Equipment
    Full complement
    Probably not
    Signal Flags
    Full complement
    Full complement
    Gangplanks
    Two, each 20' long
    Rope ladders
    Life Rafts
    2 self-contained life rafts Inflatable rescue boat Rigid hull launch
    A cutter and a 23' launch
    Engines
    375 hp John Deere (2), diesel
    The wind
    Propellers
    54" x 42" â€" four blade

    Owner
    HMS Bounty Organization, LLC
    British Admiralty



    "The name change back in 1787 probably didn’t help things," I said. I knew little about the Bounty but had built a model of it when a youth. The box it came in had a short history of the ship.

    From out of nowhere Chuck appeared,

    "Bethia," he said. "She was a collier built for merchant service before being purchased for the naval service and the breadfruit expedition."

    Hugh was startled by another voice not expecting any input on the subject of the Bounty, but as it turned out Chuck was a devotee of South Sea lore especially the voyages of Captain Cook

    I was to be the recipient of their combined knowledge.

    At first it appeared like a duel, both of them thrusting facts and figures of the Mutiny, each trying to outdo the other.
    Chuck:

    "The crew were all volunteers not impressed as in the 1935 movie version of the tale."

    Hugh chimed in:
    "Yeah, they needed no inducement to sign aboard the Bounty. It was well known at the time that she was bound for the paradise of Tahiti, called Otaheite, in those days. Returning seamen from previous Cook voyages told of the sensuous women.

    Chuck added:
    "As well as other delights. Like plenty of good food, a warm climate, and for the most part not directly under the critical eye of Bligh."

    I said,
    "It sure was a popular subject for the movie industry. I never knew Errol Flynn was in one production."

    "Yes, it was one of his early films and it is said he did a lousy acting job of it," Chuck said, adding, "Gibson’s direction of his version came closer to the truth of the mutiny."

    "Yeah, if done again it should be with the court martial. That would be something to sink your teeth into," exclaimed. Hugh.

    I asked about the trials and Hugh was more than willing to elaborate. He told of how it is all on record; the trial of Captain Bligh for losing the ship and of the mutineers as well. Like today, money, influence and status has its advantages. One midshipman accused of taking part was found guilty but later acquitted . That was a factual part in the 1935 movie. Three others swung from the fore yard arms of the HMS Brunswick

    Chuck was out gunned in the Bounty knowledge duel. Both agreed the Tofua scene in the Gibson movie was right on the mark depicting in graphic detail the escape of the crew and the stoning to death of John Norton, Bligh’s only loss amongst the loyal crew men.
    http://technorati.com/videos/youtube...%3DdlRv1KE3G_k

    Our moon grew brighter, the night darker, but clouds still drifted by now and then cloaking its brilliance. It cast a mood as though ominous things might occur.
     
    It was eight bells and I had the mid watch. Hugh lingered on, enjoying the Bounty discussion. Chuck went below for minute and came back on deck. It was his watch also. He announced

    "At this speed we should sight Toufa before 04:00. We’ll be making a course change when abeam of the island."

    Great, I thought to my self, not really knowing why seeing this little island held such fascination for me. It couldn’t be a "Gettysburg " moment, but it certainly grabbed my psyche. Of course it was the setting! We were a sailing vessel, about the size of the Bounty, plying these very waters where a mutiny brewed over 200 years ago, all ignited by the theft of a few coconuts.
    My watch mates Cole and Timothy eased off to the bow, preferring another subject to pass the time.
    I wanted to hear more of the launch’s epic voyage.
    Enhanced by the binnacle glow, Chuck’s face lit up, more from fervor than a meager lamp. It was evident he wanted to talk about that. I gave the wheel a spoke or two to get the lubber line up on 025o Steering was easy. The Thompson cooperated, she too was eager to hear sea tales.
    Chuck went on.



    William Bligh

    "Ole Bligh knew how to pull men together in a crisis. His methods were harsh but he managed to sail over 3,600 miles with hardly anything to eat. Some bread severely rationed, a few shell fish picked up on the way and a couple of birds they managed to catch. They didn’t even hook one fish. Christian on Pitcarin Island had plenty to eat and in a few years he was dead, murdered by Tahitian men. He never strove to bring enough women for all the men, in fact murder was the fate of all the mates except one mutineer who survived."

    "Some of the women were kidnaped," Hugh added, "and Christian had the worst belligerent men of the bunch."

    I could see the politics of the island could dominate this watch.
    "Navigating a twenty three foot boat must have been a challenge,"
    I commented.



    A model of the Bounty's launch

    "Yeah and with no charts or compass. Ole Bligh knew the way from memory and was an excellent navigator and kept an accurate log, charting islands and the Great Barrier Reef all the way to Timor Dutch East Indies," Chuck said.

    "But he had an excellent sextant. In fact it was Christian’s, given to him by his family, handed to Bligh as he boarded the launch bound for its most epic voyage," countered Hugh.







    Track of the launch

    I couldn’t determine who favored who as the bounty duel story enfolded.

    It went on this way for two hours as we got closer to Tofua The wind easing a bit but backing enabling us to maintain a steady speed.

    Next Tofua by moon light

    JD
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     
     
     
     
     
     
    Last edited by J. Dillon; 05-05-2009 at 01:21 PM. Reason: chart improvement
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  33. #733
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Bligh was a midshipman with Cook on his voyage to the west coast of Canada. Bligh Island, in Nootka Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is named after him.
    Alex

    "“He was unfamiliar with the sea and did not like it much: it was a place that made you cold and wet and sick” " Nevil Shute, Trustee From the Toolroom

  34. #734
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    I hang out for these episodes Jack, and they keep getting better and better.

  35. #735
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Keep 'em coming Jack.

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