A lesson to be learnt

John Rowell would like to thank all those club members who helped him recently following an unfortunate incident. It is a salutary tale of when more haste, less speed pays dividends and sitting under a tree might be prudent.

How many of us have arrived at the club late for a race, rushed rigging our boat and realised when we have sailed off from shore that something is not quite right? His story is certainly worth a read………

Some of you may be aware of a little incident I was involved in on the water recently, but before I begin to explain just what happened I would like to say that for the second time in my life I have been reminded of how fantastic the membership of this club is and how it represents to me as an extended family – better than any counseling could ever be.

I would also like to say thank you so much to all of the people who rallied round and helped me in my hour of need.

I am not going to mention any names just in case I miss anyone out but I’m sure you all know who you are.

Well – Come the Sunday morning of the 9th October – a bright and breezy sunny day I was unfortunately feeling unwell before I arrived at the club but as I have discovered in the past, to get out onto the water and have a blast is a good cure for many things. Unfortunately, this day was not going to be one of those times.

I recently purchased a Gopro type of waterproof camera and was keen to try it out on the boat – another inducement to sail! I had also borrowed a similar camera to use as a comparison which was to be strapped to the back of Kevs Fireball.

I was a bit late so with all the rushing around, fixing the camera onto Kevs boat, making sure it was secure, (haha!) pointing the right way and switched on and then doing something similar on my boat I did not notice that I had put the tiller on the wrong side of the bridle.

So with this mistake, the fact that it was quite breezy and I had put on the full rig this voyage was doomed even before I eased the boat off the trolley into our beautiful blue water.

Right – so that’s my excuses out of the way for making an elementary mistake.

I didn’t notice this mistake because it was a run down to the start line with not much tiller movement required and as I arrived the start signal blew so I just rounded up and joined the race. At that moment I was aware that there was a problem because I couldn’t sheet in fully to make the line and with me being prone to sea sickness if I didn’t keep looking ahead I was reluctant to start looking back to try and figure out just what the problem was.

I only just made the line and battled my way up the beat, fighting all the way to sheet in and foolishly assuming that the problem would sort itself out!

At the first tack I went in and several capsizes later I was beginning to feel really unwell, then I took a hit on the head from the boom which made my sickness even worse.

After managing to get the boat upright and keep it that way I sheeted in and the next thing I knew was that the tiller extension had come off at the UJ. What happened there was that the main sheet had got itself wrapped around the UJ and separated the two parts as I yanked on it, so watching my carbon tiller extension go bobbing off on the wavelets never to be seen again (or so I thought) and adding to my problems I realized that I was now in big trouble and was not going to get out of this situation alone. I was also too weak to call for help although I do recall shouting at a passing boat that I had no control and needed help.

Eventually the safety boat arrived and I have to say that whoever they are they behaved very professionally and did all of the right things quickly and efficiently – so whoever you are another big thank you.

After attempting to rescue me and the boat at my request I was feeling so unwell by now  that I just wanted to get off the water so I said –‘ leave it, get me in please’ which they did in double quick time.

Now I think it was the Victorians who first came up with the definition of ‘mal de mer’ – that there are two phases to the condition – the first is that you are afraid that you are going to die, the second phase is that you are not. I was now in the second phase!

I spent some time lying prone next to the jetty just wanting to die!

Eventually it was decided that mainly because of the bump on my head and the blood that I needed to go to hospital and so I was wheeled in a wheelchair honking up all the way to John and Kims car which I initially refused to get in as I didn’t want to throw up all over the upholstery, but – bless em both they said it didn’t matter as the upholstery was leather so it would clean off quite easily. What wonderful people!

When we arrived at the hospital I was seen very quickly – which is amazing when you consider what we read about with all of the problems in the NHS. But it was oh so busy.

A whole ward had been cleared out and was full of sick people lying on trolleys or in wheelchairs waiting to be assessed.

I have to say that the staff who attended to me were amazing – I felt like I was their only patient and they had all the time in the world for me. (I don’t think it was just my good looks and personality. Lol)

Whilst there I had the full works – MRI brain scan – yes they found one! ECG, blood pressure, blood tests by the armful etc, etc.

I am now reasonably ok and still keen to try out the camera – By the way the quality is fantastic especially under water!

Extra thanks to Rob who amazingly found my tiller extension on the far shore.

Apologies to Graham for loosing his camera – I will buy you another one – promise.

And finally:

The late great Spike Milligan had a good recommendation as a cure for sea sickness – sit under a tree!

John Rowell


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