July 19, 2017: Rescued by an “Australian Angel”

Walt was out in the sunshine on the fore deck, working on the removal of the windlass, before 8 am, but I stayed in bed. Suddenly, I heard Walt call my name, so I scrambled out ino the cabin, calling out, “Yes! Yes! Did you call me? Where are you? Is there an emergency?” Walt’s muffled response indicated that he was stuck in the anchor locker, a deep “pit” in Braesail’s bow that holds the windlass motor and several hundred feet of anchor chain and rope, together with spare anchors and their chains. “Oh, DEAR!” I thought, and hurried to throw on some clothes and shoes and clamber up to the deck. There was Walt, head down near the bottom of the lazarette and legs and feet stretched out on the deck above! He’d dropped the tool he needed for his work on the windlass into the bottom of the “well,” had squirmed down to retrieve it, had grabbed the tool and put it on the deck beside him, and moved his glasses to the back of his head, but he could not get enough leverage to extricate his body from the hole. I tried pulling on his legs and feet, and he could roll a little to one side, but he remained quite firmly stuck. He suggested that I knock on the side of the boat moored ahead of us, Persistence (!), to ask for help; we had met and chatted with John, the skipper, an Australian who would soon be leaving the dock to continue circumnavigating Vancouver Island with Victoria as his goal, and he was a very pleasant, experienced chap. I thumped on one of Persistence’s port lights, through which I could see someone moving about, and called out, “Hello! My husband’s stuck in the anchor laz and needs some help getting out!” John and I were soon on Braesail’s fore deck, and all three of us were chuckling at Walt’s predicament–unfortunately, I didn’t have my smartphone and didn’t get a picture of the victim before John managed to haul him out of the locker feet first. Cheers for John’s rescue of a fellow sailor in distress!

Walt was sweaty and grubby but undeterred, and continued to work on the windlass removal; I helped by passing parts and tools to him as he needed them. He finally managed to pry the winch and motor apart and get them onto the deck and the area prepared for the new windlass assembly that was on its way from a marine facility in town. We shared Morning Prayer (may I be granted peace and courage!) before the windlass was delivered in several very heavy boxes of parts, and everything proved to be present and able to replace the corpse of the old, corroded windlass–the motor looked rustily dreadful! When Walt tried to pay the $2500 for the windlass using his Bank of America VISA card, however, it was declined–he’d been notified on Tuesday night that his card had been compromised by a merchant, the card would be invalidated, and he’d receive a new card in the mail, but, since we won’t be picking up our mail until late September, Walt had arranged to have the new card sent to our son Martin in Vancouver, BC, whom we’ll see before we fly to Brussels on August 1, and to have the invalidation delayed until then. I had called Bank of America to put a Travel Notice on my own VISA card, but was told that the bank was having computer difficulties and I should try using their Web site to set up the Travel Notice; I did this, but MY VISA was also declined when I tried to pay for the windlass. Walt finally used his BECU credit card to make the purchase, and it was accepted–another obstacle overcome.

Now a piece of starboard was needed on which to seat the new windlass winch, so Walt hiked up to an onshore store to buy a sheet. After his return, there was much hole-drilling, cutting, sawing, and adjusting, and again John came to Walt’s rescue with a “Sawzall” (a reciprocating saw) that could serve as a jigsaw (Walt thought he’d put his on board but could not locate it–it’s probably back in the garage in Everett!). Again I assisted a little as Walt installed the new motor in the anchor locker and the shiny new winch on the deck above it and tested the assembly to see if our remote control and cockpit control could cause it to function–SUCCESS!! WHEW!! It worked faster and more quietly than the old windlass, and should last for a LONG time!

By this time (about 2 pm) Walt and I were more than ready for lunch (sandwiches and BC cherries). We cleaned up the messes the day’s work had created, and took very welcome naps, having decided that we didn’t have the energy to motor immediately to another destination and would stay another night in Campbell River. Dinner featured Indian cuisine, and after tidying up, we selected several places to the north where we’d like to go, depending on weather conditions, and calculated when we would need to leave (at 7 am) in order to refuel and then transit the Seymour Narrows Rapids at slack tide (around 9:30 am). Walt showered, filled the water tanks, and caught up on email, and I called and shared news with Joy about her trip home and our day’s adventures. Now that this post is ready, I am heading to bed, relieved that we have a functioning anchor windlass and very thankful for Walt’s hard work and for the help of our “Australian angel!”

(We will probably have little connectivity until July 30, so posts will be sporadic at best. Keep checking!)

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