View Full Version : The tale of the "Don't Panic"

Evad 77
12-06-2011, 18:49
Ahoy there! When I introduced myself and my 24' sloop, the "Don't Panic" I was asked if the name came for the book, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or if it had another meaning. Truth be told, it is inspired by the book, but it also has another meaning. So grab yer Grog and sit right back, here is my tale.......:cool:

When my wife Linda and I first bought our boat, we were very new to sailing. As a matter of fact, we probably knew just enough to get us into trouble. So one day when the wind was headed South-west, we pulled out of Lost Peninsula Marina, hoisted our sails and headed up the Ottawa River. We had great weather and a nice breeze, who could ask for anything more. One of the Clubs on the river was having their Regatta; so we proudly displayed our Mainsail and Jib as the wind took us on our way past them. “HA you Power boaters! No gas bills for us!”

Eventually, the Summit street bridge loomed before us. Now we may have been able to tack our way back to the Maumee bay, but being courteous, we felt it wouldn’t be fair to the Power boats headed to the Regatta to have to dodge a tacking Sailboat. I asked Linda to take the tiller while I dropped the outboard back into the water. She obliged (thought without great confidence), and I attended the motor. It was then that I discovered that between lifting the engine out of the water and tipping it forward to clear the prop, I failed to lift the handle up a bit, and it was wedged against the back rail of the boat. Wedged, as in, I can’t drop the engine into the water…

I instructed Linda to just do a lazy weave back and forth across the river to kill time why I struggled to get us under power again. And I reminded her “Don’t Panic”, because THAT is when we’d get into trouble. And all the time, the bridge got closer. I struggled, fussed and fumed. I probably used some language I learned in Sailor School, but I eventually got the engine into the water. One pull and it fired up. YEAH US! I gave it some power and climbed up on the deck to drop our Mainsail. I told Linda to bring us back into the wind, she pulled to port……but the wind blew us back toward the bridge…which was getting closer.

“Give it some more gas,” I instructed. She did (with a kind of “Um, OK” look on her face) and pulled us back into the wind…but we were blown back the way we were headed…toward the bridge. Which was getting CLOSER. “DON’T PANIC!” I reminded her. “Just give it some more gas, and pull us around.” Again she gave me a kinda “One of us is gonna die” look, applied more gas and pulled us into the wind…which again blew us back toward the EVER-GETTING-CLOSER SUMMIT STREET BRIDGE!

At this point I think I said some more Sailor words and climbed back into the cockpit. “I GAVE IT GAS!” Linda said with a kind of “I’m not having too much fun now” look on her face. I throttled back to idle, looked at the engine, put it into gear, and told her to bring us back into the wind. When the helm responded I said, “See; just don’t panic.” I climbed up on the deck, dropped our sails and we motored home.

And that is why we’ve named our boat “Don’t Panic”.

The Cowman
12-06-2011, 18:55
Great Story David... worthy of publication.... you should have been a columnist!

12-06-2011, 22:24
Ah so that is it.Well true to the book, if you had that most useful of objects handy, a towel, I'm sure it could have been used to help get the motor into position, as an additional sail or perhaps as a marker to say where you went down! :)

Evad 77
12-07-2011, 03:14
Or by placing the towel over our heads we would have no longer seen the bridge, and the danger would have been averted altogether! :D

12-07-2011, 04:59
Super story David. It reminds me of a book I read about 40 odd years ago called "The art of course sailing." I think it was by a chap called Michael Green. There is one passage in it where a crew are in trouble and the Skipper keeps on issuing orders like Port your helm. In extremisis the poor helmsma eventually utters the imortal words. "Do you mean bloody left or right?" It seemed funny at the time. After 40 years in charge of some interesting coves, I can see the need for such lingustics.
Dont Panic!:D

Old Salt
12-07-2011, 05:10
Nice story, a laf to read and remember, not so much at the time

Horatio Nelson
12-07-2011, 06:44
Excellent story