Hang on for dear life...This was an extraordinary storm that came from out of nowhere......Batten down the Hatches, understatement!
Whilst Uncle was making his way towards me, it seemed like I was glued to the bow, and my rescue was taking forever. Oh if only I had not listened to my cousin, for I felt sure that in those moments alone there, she had surely sent me to a certain watery grave.
While contemplating my fate, with an ever increasing nausea setting in, behind me came Uncle, with a stern face. Holding on tightly to the front of the Cabin rail, I was given strict instructions as to what I was to do, and to do it quickly. That meant donning the lifejacket immediately.We had little time to get off the bow, and down to the stern of the boat, before the storm took it's full hold.
I obeyed without Question as he literally tucked me, a small 11 year old, under his arm, hung on to the side rails for grim death, and shuttled us both alongside till I was safely sitting at the stern, near the hatch. Down below was my mother, whose piercing blue eyes met me with a steely gaze, though she uttered not a word.
I guess she was just glad that Her Brother had been able to hoist me from the bow, and tow me back to the rest of the family without either of us going over the side. Father had little to say, but I know he was relieved.
Our family were no strangers to boats, as our Grandfather had been an experienced Boat builder in his early years, though he had left that occupation and taken up farming. My Uncle However continued with this lifestyle and on former Christmas holidays, we had spent time in different locations around the beautiful countryside of New Zealand.
Oft times we would all meet up and camp in a favourite spot, taking turns at skiing behind the back of his speed boat at that time, but this was a wholly different ball game.
The Sky was growing very dark, and the swells continued to increase, with winds gracing up to somewhere between 60-80 knots. Mother had always been around boats and the sea from birth practically. Father on the other hand was from a farming background, so his sea legs were not so accomplished.
I think he was much more at home in the Saddle of a Horse rounding up sheep on a Station, rather than tackling the elements in a small insignificant blob out in the middle of raging storms.
And it raged!
On and on and on, for hours, Uncle Took the helm of that yacht, hauling down the mainsail as the winds grew far to fierce, leaving only the fore and aft to keep that yacht propellent by the winds.
Down in the Cabin sitting calmly on the seat was my Aunty. I had decided after receiving a drenching up on the deck to compliment my initial soaking, that it was time to get below and dry off. Twas no place for the smaller members of the family up there, this was made clear by Uncle.
So there we were, all scared silly by the heeling over of the boat, feeling sicker and sicker as time dragged on. I could see the swells lashing up and around the portholes, as she would heel right over. I can still see the image of Aunty sitting there, not even hanging on to anything, and wondering why she was so calm.
Later she revealed to us that an earlier trip out into the deep waters, far beyond our destination, had incurred a sail becoming entangled in the mainmast on their way out to the Great Barrier Island. On this occassion she had had to take the helm, whilst uncle climbed the rigging to free that sail before they all ended up in Davy Jones Locker!
My Aunty handed out dry biscuits to us all, to save us from dry wretching over the side or in buckets below. This of course proved very useful as I know we all were getting darn sick of throwing up.
The little ones of course were tucked up down in the bow of the cabin, with Mother keeping them calm, while us older kids were up and down the steps through that hatch, hanging on as we went. At one point while Uncle needed to attend to ropes and general sailor duties, My Brother who looked as white as a ghost had the opportunity to hold the yacht steady, well as steady as he had the strength to, which wasn't for long!!
Of course there was much praying going on. This was not the ususal stormy weather that blew up, as we tacked back and forth through that confounded channel with the boom swinging across without hardly a minutes notice. That was in itself precarious, for if you were in the way when she came across..I hate to even think about that now!
Then it happened, something that we all looked back at and laughed at later, but at the time, twas no joking matter.
My Father who I have already mentioned as not in the way of an accomplished sailor, decided to take fight and flight.
Mother surely saw that coming, for she knew his weakness that way, but this was something she had no hope of handling, this was a job for His Brother in Law.
Father started panicking solid, swearing that we were all doomed, and were all going to the bottom for sure. I know that's what he said even though the roaring wind made it hard to hear much of anything. He was so terrified, I am sure it echoed clean out into the Tasman sea.
Equally as loud as Father's panic stricken echoes, came Uncles thunderous threats, as Father began looking around for an axe with which he could cut the mainmast down.
And so it was on, up on the top deck!!.
" Don't you even think about Chopping down the mast," Uncle roared, " Or I will throw you overboard you lunatic"
We were all silent, hoping and praying Father would come to his senses and fairly quickly. I think though, Uncle was more concerned that rather than chopping down the mainmast, he was more likely to jump overboard.
The next thing we saw was Uncle Motion to his Son to grab the helm, while he wrapped his arms about my petrified, Father, whose legs had gone to jelly!
Poor Father, I had never seen him like this before, and even though the rest of us were still scared, we had resigned ourselves to riding out the storm, something that we figured Father would do, but alas the panic took flight.
After a time, he did settle down, and sit back down. I wonder even to this day if he actually believed that Uncle would throw him over the side, but I think he came to reason and sense later on. He never said!
The Channel I speak of, was like two enourmous cliffs that surrounded the body of water we had to sail through. Of course beneath the surface were currents not unlike that of a bar, off of a river leading to the open ocean, but on a much grander and more dangerous scale.
You could get up to 10ft swells and more within minutes passing through that body of water, though on this day I think we passed though 12-14 no exaggeration.
If there is one thing that the Hauraki Gulf is notorious for, it is the violent squalls that blow up, and filthy weather. I don't think there is a sailor in that region even today, who hasn't encountered these waters at their worst.
Well, after what seemed like an eternity of Waterworlds Rollercoaster/gravitron come ferris wheel, we finally made it through the channel, and into calmer waters.
There was not one soul on board that didn't feel the bight that day, and all were thankful and prayerful by the time the yacht settled down to it's former sailing status. We raised up the sails again, slipping quietly into the alloted bay we'd chosen for our Christmas dinner, dropping anchor at last.
To be Cont...
Reader Reviews for
"A Thanksgiving Tale, or was it Giving thanks, Part 3."
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|Reviewed by Kathy Armijo
|A finger-nail biting adventure this is.
God bless you. Kathy
|Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan
|what a memory you have-|
|Reviewed by Felix Perry
|Now not only is the sea in torment so too has the human roller coaster of emotions shown up in this riveting story...
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
|Oh, my sides--stop!!! Too funny--
(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Great story, Chazz; very well penned! BRAVA!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in America, Karen Lynn in Texas. :D