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

  1. #771
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Just keeps getting better Jack. Your cliff hangers are mounting. I can't wait to see the endings.

  2. #772
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    I continued on the road. Dogs started to appear. They looked lean, each a clone of the other. I rated a sustained glance. But their nose led them on looking for something to eat. All had the look of village pets not really owned by anyone, but there was one exception. This tyke appeared with his prized possession. It seemed like he was offering his pet to me. Both looked like they were made for each other.



    These two seemed made for each other

    There was a commotion coming from the roadside, hidden by the denseness of the jungle. A squabble of some kind was ensuing. My ears perked to detect the origin and participants. Maybe birds of some kind but definitely also people. It reminded me of a cockfight, but not quite. A small path off road looked promising as my ears honed in. It looked worn, much like it would end in a illegal still. It reminded me of one I blundered into on the way south on the ICW. Fronds brushed across my face. They felt like sand paper as I moved in deeper. Voices stopped, but birds continued bickering. I had been detected. Gnats buzzed around my face. I swatted furiously but continued on. I could see nothing but green of various shades and a shaft of sunlight stabbing its way into the lushness. It looked like a spotlight illuminating a stage but this time there were gnats in the glare, swarming, waiting for me to get closer. I felt unwelcome. Was something crawling up my leg? I fingered my trusty Swiss Army knife folded in my pocket and wondered just how I could wield it if confronted by savages bent on boiling me alive. Would those dogs enjoy what was left over? Nonsense! Reality took over; these sorts of things donít happen any more in Tonga of 1993. Maybe on Tofua 1793, but not here. Yes! That was a cigarette smell in the air. Who was smoking? Teenagers away from parents? I heard the unmistakable sound of a bottle being popped and the escape of gas as an opener lifted the cap. That sounded inviting, not threatening. I took another step and found myself in a clearing with surprised faces gaping at me. One quick witted soul thrust a cold bottle in my hand, its foam still erupting from the mouth.

    "You look like you could use a beer."

    It came from an older man. He wore the traditional girdle. His hair was white over a beaming friendly face.
    I managed a thanks and took a long grateful swig, swallowing its cool contents in several gulps. A murmur rose up from the other two fellows lounging nearby, relief showing in their faces. One took a long drag on a short butt, the other raised his glass in an off handed toast before taking a swig from his bottle. I introduced myself, mentioning I was crew aboard the Thompson, guessing that this might further open a mutual dialogue. Their grins widened.

    "Yes, she came in last night," the elder fellow replied, adding,

    "I'm Zak, thats Jabe, and Hyrum." They nodded.

    "We were expecting my son but I guess he is down supplying the Thompson."

    His voice had a raspy sound. It fit in with the tone of the birds I heard . My attention was diverted as one squawked louder than his fellows. They were confined in a makeshift aviary. Zak gestured to a larger one. It was a parrot, dark red with green wings. His bill looked cruel. But his orange eyes had a quizzical look, like he knew I was a stranger.



    "We try to breed them here as this kind is getting scarce."

    "Wow! Theyíre beautiful, but do they squabble much?"(trying to avoid the word "fight").

    "Rarely, but they do show just who is boss," was his reply. Continuing, he asked.

    "Youíre American?"

    "Yes, from Connecticut," hoping my Bronx accent wasnít too apparent. They all tried to pronounce the state and got it on the third try. I had to explain just where it was in relation to New York which they understood. I asked Zak to pose for a picture.



    Zak with his friends

    Zak caught me glancing at his girdle.

    " Taíovala," he said, and went on to explain about it and the different varieties.

    "Way back, our people came here by canoe. The sea was cruel and took their clothing during storms. To cover themselves before seeing the islandís chief, our people cut up their mat sails. The chief realized this was a big honor as sails were took much time and skill to make. From that time on, the chief ordered his people to adopt that form of dress."




    A more wedding" Taíovala"

    I thought of the Bounty mutineers burning the ship, sails and all. But they were escaping King and Country. Our conversation got on to island life and questions about life in the USA. More beers appeared from the cooler nearby. A pause gave me the chance to ask,

    "How far is the beach? Iíd like to see some native craft."

    Zak hesitated, his face betrayed sadness, but he indicated to follow his lead. There were earthy scents like tilled soil. Then the path opened past cultivated ground with taro growing and other greens sprouting from a clearing surrounded by the lushness of tall palms. Water shimmered in the distance. Eventually the jungle faded away. Lapping sounds of a gentle surf tickled my ears. The immediate sand bristled with old shells and half buried greying coconuts. We walked along where the sand surrendered to the palms. Zak gestured to a canoe. It looked abandoned, forgotten. My eye scanned it fore and aft. Someone thought it needed "improvement". Zak read my face and looked disappointed too, then remarked,

    "The old skills are dying, our youth lazy, not liking the old ways. New plastic, for boats they like. Fast! Fast, hurry, quick and easy, they like. Some want to hear about the old days, how we fish, build canoes, but most want to move away from Tonga."



    JD in what was once an Out rigger canoe

    He reluctantly took my picture by the canoe. I scanned the beach. I didnít see any native wooden craft in the water or pulled up ashore. Just scarred looking fiberglass boats and some beach litter. It looked as though plastic invaded at least this part of Tonga. I glanced at Zak . He had a look of resignation on his weathered brow. I said nothing leaving him room to reflect. His eyes glazed as he scanned the beach. A bit of litter could be seen. A grin crept across his face. It was not what he saw that prompted his words but what he remembered of Tongan legends that turned the grin to a big smile.

    "Soon, Fonualei throw stones from sky, kill everything and start clean all over again."

    I knew what he meant recalling what an old girlfriend frequently told me. "Mother earth will some day shake off all the fleas."

    JD

    Next A unique cave and we race
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  3. #773
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Hello Mr. Dillon (Jack, if I may) -

    It's taken 3 days of stolen time, but I've just finished reading through the whole thread - not sure how I missed it. Now I'll have to wait for new installments like everyone else....

    Thank you so much for this fascinating thread. Great stories & well told. I grew up sailing out of Norwalk & my dad's boat spent the winter (& spring & sometimes summer as we kept an old wood sloop together on a budget) in Lindstrom's Boatyard in Stamford - so I know your home port. Bet it's different now than it was in the 50's & 60's - no more Lindstrom's, or even Scofield's for example - probably all fancy development I bet.

    So - I'll add my voice to those thanking you & asking you to keep it up!

    Fair winds -

    Garret

  4. #774
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thanks Garret. I've been pecking away on this yarn now since Feb 07. Not many replies these days but it still seems to trickle on in "views. "

    Yea it you came down to Stamford CT now you probably couldn't find your way around .It's starting to look NYC with all the tall buildings right near the Sound. The little boats yards have all but disappeared.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  5. #775
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Your fans are still here JD, some are quieter than others.


  6. #776
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    OK Paul ,what would you like to hear ?

    JD
    .

    Thanks so much , I read a bit when i can.

    You need to write a book

  7. #777
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Hey JD
    keep it coming it's always good to see your posts.I will be starting work on the majestic spirit soon after I finish catching up in my shop now that the bike season is over.starting on a roof over the boat next so I can work in the winter.
    "Rise Again Majestic Spirit"

  8. #778
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    greetings from the norfolk broad

    jill

  9. #779
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    greetings from the norfolk broad


    Glenn, Good to hear that 'Majestic Spirit" is being taken care of.

    Well I better get cranking on another episode. I got some priorities going but the sailing season is winding down now so more time will be available for yarn spinning.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  10. #780
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Taking a different path, I passed the Farmers Market on the way back. It was still crowded. Just new faces. I recalled one girl scanning the scene.



    Does this young girl scan her future ?

    Was she looking for a friend, a relative? Or thinking years ahead sheíd be old and overweight just like the ladies in front of her. I wandered back into the business side of town.

    "Twenty two dollars American", she said. Wow! I thought maybe Iíd pass. This voyage was just about over and I still had a roll of film left. It should be enough. She put the box containing the 35MM Kodachrome film back under the glass. Her face never betrayed any emotion at my balking at the cost. Turning toward me her robotic voice cranked out,

    "Anything else?"

    For a second I studied her form. It was a lovely face and a figure to match Obviously a bad day for her. Maybe personal problems inhibited any friendliness.

    "No thanks, have a good day."

    I left and searched for another gift store.
    A truck rumbled by, its smiling Tongans waved a friendly hand. Reassuring. Thatís the norm on Tonga.



    Most Tongans are quite friendly

    Maybe the store gal saw little future in Tonga.
    I joined Tom and Hugh for the walk back to the waterfront. We showed our trinkets acquired ashore. Mostly bits of jewelry and hand made carvings from bone. My stuff was just about the same, purchased in another store near the bank. The sun was low. Some clouds hovered over the distant hills across the harbor. As we approached the dock we could see a rusting vessel tied up. She had an island look about her. If she had a soul, fresh paint was a dim memory. The dockside crates I saw in the morning were gone. So was the Thompson. We looked at each other. Where was our home? Then reality dawned. Soon the Thompson would be just a pleasant memory. Here was the first stage of parting. I thought maybe a slow severance would be better. We still had a couple of days here and the Thompson would again play a significant part. Our collective thinking must have melded . It brought a smile on my face and my shipmates. They came to the same conclusion. Tom spoke first.

    "Hey we still have a sail boat race, an unusual cave and a dinner ashore."

    Hugh beamed. "Showers, a native cook, out with dancing girls too."

    He mounted one remaining crate, his eyes scanning the harbor. I could hear the drone of an outboard motor, its sound increasing. I ventured past the soulless vesselís bow to see clear of her neglected look. A boat was approaching, its stern tracing back to masts, sharp and silhouetted against the sky. A limp pennant hung from the distant main mast. It was the Thompsonís, waiting once more to care for her crew.

    Back aboard, there was no hint that tonight would be the last sleep in cozy bunks. Anticipation filled the air. Maybe it was going home, fresh water showers, and a few more laughs with shipmates and adventures to come that pervaded our minds.

    That night I lingered on deck thinking of home, loved ones, Shaula, and what tomorrow would bring. It was quiet. Todd had assigned two anchor hour watches for the night. I had the 24:00 to 02:00. Everyone was below. Some snores could be heard. Distant laughter broke the silence now and then. A splashing sound reached my ear. It implied I wasnít quite alone. Probably a fish escaping danger. I lay down on the stern bench where Bernie sought refuge, coping with his mal de mare. It seemed so long ago The night sky was dominated by an almost full moon. Thompsonís masthead scribed a lazy arc across it as she gently rolled in an always restless sea. I almost didnít want to go below when Cole came on deck to relieve me.

    Next caves, a sail boat race and dinner ashore.

    JD




     
     
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  11. #781
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Keep it comin' Jack

  12. #782
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Good stuff, Jack, as always
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

  13. #783
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    A really great thread.. My first time commenting in the forum - but I've sure enjoyed the yarns.. Hope your health holds out to finish before you or I finish.. Keep up the good work.. It kinda reminds me of when I started a book writing attempt (not to publish - just something for the kids) several years ago about my love affairs with boats over the years. Then the blasted hard drive crashed.. With my p-pore typing skills, I haven't yet tried to begin again.. Tip to all..... BACKUP _ BACKUP _ BACKUP... Look forward to the next post...

  14. #784
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Wonderful and interesting as always.

    Your adventures are very interesting. Your writing is so engaging. Love the photos. Please make this into a book. I'd be in front of the long line to purchage it.

    Love to you and yours. -Spinner & Family

    .
    Choose wisely -Treat kindly...

    A secret to a good marriage is to have a quick mind and a slow mouth...



    S/V ORCA 38' Herreshoff Ketch

  15. #785
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Welcome to the Forum Ole Reb. I'm flattered that your first post was to this thread. By know I guess you've found out what a great and crazy place this is.

    Hope you see you in other threads here.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  16. #786
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Spin_Drift View Post
    Wonderful and interesting as always.

    Your adventures are very interesting. Your writing is so engaging. Love the photos. Please make this into a book. I'd be in front of the long line to purchase it.
    So would I. Keep it coming.
    Milo

  17. #787
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    What an amazing thread. I have just now read it all for the first time.

    Mr. Dillon,

    The time you have invested in laying this all out for us is both astounding and very much appreciated. You should know that this is a most enjoyable read. Thank you.

    Bill

  18. #788
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Click clank, click clank, click clank. The fuzziness gradually ebbed from my brain and consciousness flowed in. Incoming anchor chain was working pawls. Anxious to get on deck, I slammed my head against the overhead once again but now for the last time. Quickly dressing I gained the deck just as the anchor was coming aboard.



    Getting the anchor up

    There was still some Tonga mud on deck so I manned the nearest bucket and brush for a quick deck wash down. My shipmates also surfaced but the Thompsonís permanent crew had things well in hand. The result of Zakís sonís provisioning was evident. Fresh eggs, sausages, bacon, fruit, and a Tonga bread I saw at the Farmers market, graced the table. We barely heard Thompsonís engine purring away as we all anticipated the forthcoming events of the day. We were to motor to the Cave.

    After breakfast we all assembled on deck. Todd struck the shipís bell and cleared his throat.

    "Today we have a very full agenda starting with the Cave. Thereís a surface opening at the entrance but to really get into it weíll have to dive under water for about 15 feet or so.

    My mind balked at this prospect since I had lung problems with a lifetime of exposure to dust and asbestos. Dives donít work too well for me.

    "Once we surface inside there will be a distinct and continuous surge of ocean swells. How high is dependent on what storms have occurred in the region."

    My mind flashed back to one of my other seaside cave experiences while a sailor in the US Navy. It was the Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy, 1950. You got there by motor boats, then boarded a small row boat where you would lie down to pass through the low narrow entrance.



    My mind wondered back to the Blue Groto Capri Italy

    Inside, your world became a liquid blue, engulfing your existence in that hue which reflected off the Bay of Naplesís bottom to immerse the interior of the cave. Slight wave motion in the Blue Grotto made faint reflections illuminate the caveís walls. They seemed to dance to wet sounds echoing in the chamber.

    Toddís voice broke into my reverie.

    "There will be Tongans at the entrance and inside the cave to assist if needed."
    Assist, I thought! What does that mean? I could feel beads of sweat forming on my brow. On the surface is OK, but under water is scary for me. I remembered the bum boats surrounding the entrance to the Blue Grotto. They were hawking cheap Italian jewelry like coral necklaces and crude cameos with Blue Grotto inked in. But what was at the entrances to this cave? Bum boats? Life guards? How about dusky maidens? I mentally settled down and determined to make the dive, come what may, and get into the guts of this mysterious cave to see just what was the attraction.

    Todd continued,

    "After the cave weíll power and drop the hook off a small deserted island and have a sail boat race."

    Tomís face perked up but it had a quizzical look as he took another glance at the one small dinghy aboard still up, turned amidship. It was a 9' Dyer Dink, complete with a sailing rig, unused so far. I read his mind. His lips seemed to be forming a question. Todd glanced at Tom and raised his voice an octave to thwart Tomís questioning expression.

    "After the race weíll set up a volley ball net on the beach for all hands. Or you can just swim and explore the island."
    Tom had the look of one now resigned to find out later just what the race was about. But he perked up at Toddís next pronouncement.

    "When we get back off the town, hot fresh water showers will be waiting for you at your assigned rooms in the hotel. Then weíll have a farewell dinner there. But weíre not finished yet he exclaimed. Some of you will be flying off on Saturday, but for the rest, there is native dancing, a pig cook out, and a final farewell for those departing on Sunday."

    For me, and it looked like for the rest of us "guests", it meant the end of this sailing adventure, but seeing home and loved ones took off the edge of its finality.

    Next

    Can a cave give a lesson in meteorology ?




    Does this cave entrance look ominous , what mysteries lie inside ??

    JD




     
     
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  19. #789
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Keep the suspense going Jack.

    I'm waiting.

    Last edited by rufustr; 10-30-2009 at 06:24 AM.

  20. #790
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Great work... keep it coming
    Reb, Hisself...

  21. #791
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Big Birthday, today, Jack! Hope it's really special.
    A society predicated on the assumption that everyone in it should want to get rich is not well situated to become either ethical or imaginative.

    Photographer of sailing and sailboats
    And other things, too.
    http://www.landsedgephoto.com

  22. #792
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    From aloft I could feel a pulsing engine. Small tremors were transmitted to my hands grasping the foremast. No sails were set to vary the windís song. Intermittent clouds thickened, masking the sunís authority in the sky. I thought of bad omens as I still felt apprehension at the prospect of diving down to see the inside of a waterside cave. What was its claim to fame? Todd never gave a clue. Probably it wasnít blue like the grotto in Capri. Maybe it was like the Thunder Hole on Mt Desert Island, Maine. Oh, no! Entering a cave like that could be extremely dangerous! Todd did mention ocean swells, and the phenomena dependent on them. It seemed strange to dwell on caves high above the deck amid a sailless Thompson. I preferred sailing rather than being urged forward by mechanical means. There was a feeble swell, more pronounced here aloft. Little wind murmured in my ears except that created by Thompsonís progress and easy roll in a quite sea.
    Looking down, I could see people on deck congregating around diving gear, masks and fins, brought up from Thompsonís innards.
    We made a turn around one insignificant looking island. Our wake a slow curving arc. Then the course straightened, our ship seemed determined, bound for a not too distant shore which was capped by lush trees of emerald green atop craggy, rusty looking rocks, white at the base, from gently breaking waves. As we approached, the day now turned foreboding as clouds became thicker uniting to blotch the sky a grey of various shades. Cole and Timothy tinkered near the windlass. They looked purposeful taking off lashings that secured the anchor. I glanced aft. Chuck was removing gripes off our inflatable that hung from davits. Ahead, the island grew bigger. I even saw what looked like a black elongated splotch dead ahead. This must be the cave. The Thompson rolled a bit more as we approached. We were more exposed to ocean swells coming in from starboard where there were larger separations in the multiple islands that had surrounded us. Todd at the wheel slowed down as the cave became more distinct. A beak in the opening looked menacing like it would bite the unwary or those with meager offerings. There must have been a current of some kind as Todd swung the wheel over to face our quieting wake. The bowsprit now faced away from the cave, like it wished to escape. Our diesel engine revved, itís speed kicked up as we stopped forward motion and drew backwards.



    The hook went down just outside the cave entrance

    Splash, our anchor rattled out as the Thompson gained some speed backing towards the threatening entrance. Abruptly she stopped, our hook caught, captured by the bottom, Or perhaps by cohorts of this mystifying cave. I left my perch aloft. Repeating to myself, " Iím going to dive into this cave. Witnessed accounts of its interior will not do. I have to see for myself". I went below to get my swim trunks on. My shipmates already had their masks and fins sorted out. Catherine was a expert swimmer and former life guard. Iíll keep near her, I thought. No other craft were in sight . Where were the Tongans to assist if needed? Toddís words rang in my mind. Another splash signaled the inflatable was afloat and its outboard revved up. Some blue smoke emitted from it confirming the motor was working. Timothy brought it around to the starboard side. I felt clumsy with fins on, they were so foreign to my feet. The mask seemed to fit OK and sucked into my face when I breathed in.

    Todd looked at me and said, "Jack, you look nervous."

    His perceptive nature saw my inner turmoil. I said nothing at first but thought I better say something rather than have him prohibit my participation.

    I turned and faced him square summoning up what I thought a reassuring voiceí "Iím OK."

    It was not convincing, as he replied

    "Just take several deep breaths, dive down and follow Catherine on in." He winked at her.

    Just take several deep breaths. His casual words kicked up a reflection to the last time I heard someone say that to me.

    It was 1948 Boot Camp, US Navy, Camp Moffet Great Lakes, IL. I was a seaman recruit. Finnigan, a fellow recruit was full of tricks and from rival Company 257. They bunked in the same adjoining barracks. Well, Finnigan challenged that he could knock anyone out without a punch. Someone pushed me forward. I was almost the tallest in Company 256.



    I'm in this picture. Can you pick me out ? My grandaughter did when she was 8 years old

    I looked around but nobody was behind me now . Not even the Company Commander Chief Gunnerís Mate, Williams, an old salt if I ever saw one, with service hash marks almost older than me. He called me the "Redheaded Orangutang". My fellow recruits urged me forward like I was really volunteering to accept Finniganís challenge. I couldnít back down now. It seemed that Company 256's honor was in peril.

    "Yea, Big Red," they urged. "Go ahead and see if he can knock you out."

    Finnegan lost no time and quickly turned me around . Standing behind, he told me to take 10 deep breaths and hold the last. At the time I thought, pretty easy, what can this Brooklyn Mick be up to? My fellow recruits all in dress whites urged me on. Their boots( leggings) like mine, indicated our lowly status of recruits in the naval hierarchy They cheered as I sucked in air and counted aloud so I wouldnít screw up. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 6. I could feel my lungs filling up with air fresh off Lake Michigan. I continued breathing deep: 7, 8, 9, 10.

    Finnigan urged, "OK Big Red, hold the last one "

    I clamped my mouth shut, at which time he encircled my chest with his big lanky arms and squeezed tight. I instantly blacked out. I guess Finnengan let me slip gently down to the ground, known to the Navy as "the grinder". I donít know how long I was out, maybe a few seconds . But when I regained a kind of awareness, I was surrounded by a bunch of laughing recruits howling at the sight of me sprawled on the grinder. Not fully conscious, I had no idea where I was and who were all these funny looking people dressed in white the same way, but with leggings on . Gradually, they helped get me on my feet, then full perception came back.


    "OK Jack, get in. Youíll be among the first to go in the cave. Remember, when we slip out of the inflatable, take several deep breaths before you dive," Todd counseled again.

    Tim, Hugh, Catherine, and I, climbed down into the inflatable. I looked up. Todd looked so regal high on the deck of the Thompson. Chuck, already at the outboard, ran us closer and brought us into the mouth of the cave. He was to wait outside. The caveís beak, now closer, threatened to take a bite. It looked like a hungry raptor, Two splashes, and Tim and Hugh were in the water. Catherine slipped over the side like a graceful seal. She was elegant in any move she made.

    What the hell! Over I went to hang on dearly to the inflatable. I felt myself hyperventilating again not from exertion but fear. Yet the mystery of what the cave contained overcame my terror. I saw Hugh and Timís fins go under. Our inflatable rose and fell in the gentle swell now so apparent. I could hear water lapping the entrance walls. Catherine faced me, she took my hand, her voice calming. I imaged that lovely face behind her mask. She said,

    "Count 1, 2, 3. Count and breathe deep, Jack. Now follow me."

    Next inside the cave

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  23. #793
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Almost everyone has some basic fear that is hard to overcome. Sounds like in your case with lung problems fear of diving is well justified.
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

  24. #794
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thanks for the Birthday post Jack. Excellent writing as always!
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  25. #795
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thanks for the birthday present Jack.


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

    I just finished reading this thread. It is absolutely amazing and fantastic. I am inspired and humbled all at once.

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Dillon!

  27. #797
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    norfolk broads england
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    happy birthday JD

    same week as me

    jill

  28. #798
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Happy birthday Jill. May you have many more healthy ones.

    My daughter, granddaughter and Mom are all Scorpios too.

    In fact my Mom was birthday is on Nov. 11, Armistice day. WW1 was over on that day, she was 18 then and told me in later years how happy she was when that terrible war was over.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  29. #799
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Jack, I just received WB Issue 140 which I ordered from WB.

    I was surprised and pleased to find a Jack Dillon article starting on page 26 titled "Tips for updating a Traditional Daysailer."

    A treat to read with some lovely photos.


  30. #800
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Gosh rufustr That was a while back I made many canges since then. I hope you enjoyed the article.

    Well back to the "Cave "

    Down she went, those graceful legs slipping under like dolphinís tail. 4, 5, 6, I breathed deep and down I went under the surface. Immediately I could feel my heart pumping, the watery world amplifying the sound. Deeper Catherine continued, into increasing darkness The vortex of bubbles and swirls guided my way. My ears felt the pressure. It seemed like a vice was closing in on my body. Mentally I was still counting, now way past 20. The thought of absolute panic crossed my mind. My eyes were open but I saw nothing, just the remnants of a swirl ahead of me. concerns that this dive was big mistake flashed. Instinct demanded I take a breath. I knew I was still underwater and opening my mouth would be fatal, especially since I was in a tunnel. The only salvation was to continue kicking and taking breast strokes. The swirls ahead of me ceased. Where was Catherine? She must have gone up or just disappeared. Maybe this is all a nightmare. Iíd wake in a sweaty bed aboard the Thompson. Reason returned; she must have gone up. Iíll stroke upwards and hope itís the right move. My lungs felt on the brink of bursting, demanding a deep breath come what may, water or air. Slowly, the compression on my body decreased. My hands broke the surface I could feel no resistance to their movement. An instant later my head surfaced. I was inside the cave but I saw no one as I took a deep breaths of moist, dank but nurturing air. Was I blind? I ripped off the mask. What malady struck me during this dive? I could not see but sound reached my ears.

    "Ya made it Jack!" Catherine exclaimed.

    Her voice had an echoing quality, unreal, as I continued taking deep breaths, sucking air in even though it had a dank smell. My soul and body had a sinking feeling mentally and physically. I could hear voices but saw no one. Then they all appeared as if by magic. Laughing faces. Hugh and Tim materialized clinging to slippery looking walls. There was Catherine her mask off and smiling. Suddenly I could a feel an upward movement. My ears felt the pressure again. My shipmates again disappeared from sight. Only the sound of laughter oozed to my mind. Then it all became clear, not in the cave, but in my brain. It was fog. Instant fog, triggered by the surge of ocean swells penetrating the cave and compressing the trapped air inside. When the surge fell, visibility returned. The cycle repeated continuously, several times a minute. I recalled a meteorology course I once took that explained the phenomenon in the atmosphere. Even a rising tide could trigger off a fog. My skinny frame lacked buoyancy. It forced me to cling to the cave walls or sink. My hands crept up and down as the swells came and subsided. It took exertion on my part, not giving me a chance to rest and regain my normal sequence of breathing. It wasnít much of a hand hold and I was burning up much oxygen in my lungs. After several minutes of this Catherine announced,
    "Itís time to go back so the rest of our crew can enter." Her voice sounded hollow as if in a tomb. She disappeared in a fog as the swell lifted us and reappeared again as it fell, but now she was closer to me.

    "You OK, Jack? Are you ready?"

    I wasnít quite ready but I figured I made it in, just barely, and could make it out OK.

    "Yeah," I replied.

    Hugh and Tim took deep breaths, let go of the cave walls, and disappeared in a fog before they dove. The pressure on my ears returned and popped as the surge again receded.. There was a faint light below, stronger in the direction of the entering tunnel, but mostly it reflected off the sea floor just like the Blue Grotto, but not as spectacular. This cave had its own uniqueness.
    Catherine was gone, just a gurgle remained. I was alone in the cave. Taking several deep breaths I plunged down this time following the faint but increasing light. I could see fishes, the bottom. I had no panic now and enjoyed the seconds under, marveling at the sight. I never dove this deep before or this length of time. Maybe my youthful endurance was returning. Remembering not to surface too soon I continued on. I saw no trace of Catherine. On I went, but lost sense of direction. Just follow the light, I thought. On I continued. Stroke, kick, stroke, kick.. My lungs felt the need to draw air, the depth compressing me, the ears in a vise. Panic started to creep in. Where am I ? Which way is up? Oxygen was leaving my brain, spent with no reserves left. Then I felt strong arms grasping my arm pits, both of them. I was moving, hopefully up. Must be angels taking me to my just ...well almost... reward. It got lighter as if I was approaching heaven. The vise eased off, the ears now hearing bubbles. I was tempted to breathe but held off waiting for a definite sign I was in air not water. We broke the surface. I gasped air once again. The sky that once held ominous clouds looked damn well friendly welcoming me back as an air breathing creature. Ahead, there was the Thompson waiting for her divers.


     
    I was good to see the Thompson when I surfaced 

    Back aboard and on a solid deck, my breath returned. I was able to join my shipmates who were chatting about the cave. During lunch on deck the cave and its uniqueness dominated the conversation. The anchor was up and we were on the way to our race. Tom was nearby. He caught my eye. His face had the look of eager anticipation like a kid taking a seat at a ball game. Making his way to me, he muttered something about the cave but that wasnít what was on his mind. I let him amble on about the stalagmites and the fog coming in an out and I exchanged my views. I wondered just when he would get to what he was really thinking about - the sailboat race. Todd hovered nearby chiming in about what his crew just experienced. He turned to me and with a quizzical look asked,

    "Well Jack, how ya doing? "

    I kind of expected his question, my being the oldest aboard and with breathing problems. Todd had tact not to directly ask but rather use a general inquiry.

    "Fine. Iím glad I did it, but I had trouble orienting myself on the way out."

    "A common problem," Todd replied. Thatís why Tongans are nearby. They can see people getting into trouble and want to promote the tourist trade with good publicity, not drownings."

    "Now I understand about the "assistants" you mentioned before," trying to make a grateful looking face.

    A lull after Toddís words gave an eager Tom his opportunity. It was like a dam bursting, the release of his question about a sail boat race he so anticipated. Todd had mentioned it days ago. I can imagine Tomís mind in a quandary about a race when we had only one sail boat aboard .Were there other boats here in the islands? But he kept his cool and calmly asked Todd,

    "About the race, what other sailing craft are to participate?"

    From the way Tom worded it, I thought he must think that the Thompson was to be in the event. I, on the other hand, assumed it involved the Dyer Dink still secured on deck.
    Tom thought big; a grand affair involving schooners or maybe even a tall ship I thought small. Just our dink sailing against local craft. He was to be the most disappointed.
    Todd wore a look of bewilderment. Maybe he balked like I did at the word "craft", like it was obvious that there were no other craft here in Tonga to compete with the Thompson in a race. Some yachts of course were around but nothing to race against.
    Before he replied, Toddís expression softened to his usual look of a patriarch caring for the mental and physical well being of his crew. He knew he had to let Tom down gently and measured his words carefully.

    "Weíll just be racing against the clock. Weíll all pair up in the Dyer to sail to a mark and return to the Thompson and the pair with the best time will be the winner."

    I watched Tom carefully, His expression went blank. He must have been disappointed but he betrayed little emotion. I assumed he could go along with a simple one boat race. As it turned out it was to be a memorable event, a "race" he would remember for a long time.

    Next the race

    JD
     
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  31. #801
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Thanks Jack.


  32. #802
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    This is my first post in a long time, and I'm happy to say that it couldn't be on a thread that is more interesting and dream-provoking than this one! Thanks so much for sharing these tales with those of us whose sailing is confined to armchairs, at least for now.

  33. #803
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Good to see you pop up, John! Hope you're well.

  34. #804
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Nice addition Jack! I love cave diving, I can totally relate to your sense of being "lost".

    Keep it up, we are still reading!!

  35. #805
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    Default Re: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving to repliers, viewers Fourmites etc. Hope you all enjoy the day with family and friends.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

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