Being a photographer
is sometimes kind of like being an ambulance chaser. Being in the right place
at the right time is even better. I didn’t have a decent digital camera, that I could always have in my pocket ready to go,
until recently. A few times, I have been right there as some great drama is
unfolding, and can’t get my camera out of my bag quick enough, and as Murphy’s
Law would have it, I usually have the wrong bloody lens on, so by the time I
get the right one on, the action is over. But I’m learning quickly through my
own mistakes, and it’s always an adrenaline rush to be close to the action. If
I’d had a camera handy even half the time that a
punterama was unfolding (PUNTERAMA~verb~a bareboat charterer
in peril~eg.anchoring in bay) I could have filled
volumes with humorous photos over the years. Not to mention a few of my own
follows is a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time, and
showing up with an unloaded gun! During a recent
Americas Cup, all the megayachts were tied up just outside the media center.
The largest sloop in the world at that time, newly launched the week before,
went out for her first sea trial. Arriving back in the basin and backing into her
slip, the captain shifted to forward, to slow the backwards momentum of this
150’vessel down. It didn’t slow down. Instead, it went faster in
reverse. As they picked up speed, he goosed it even more, thinking he was in
forward, only to go even faster in reverse. Of course, I couldn’t get my camera
out of my backpack fast enough. There I am, feeling like a quick-shooter who
can’t draw my gun!
At ramming speed, the megayacht sideswiped the pylon, preventing it from doing
major damage to the Perini-Navi beside it. The big,
red yacht nearly ended up taking out a gaggle of gawking spectators on the
cement bulkhead, before the rudder connected with the floating wooden dock.
This stopped a couple of hundred tons of backward momentum before it rammed the
cement bulkhead. Talk about excitement.
Luckily, the owner wasn’t on board
or he would have had heart failure. The boat builders were on board, though, as
well as all the technical guys from the boat yard who commissioned the yacht,
so a big conference ensued with the Captain on the bridge with a lot of head
scratching and shaking. I’m sure there were a few interesting comments
flying about. I gathered right away as the scene was unfolding before our
unbelieving eyes that it was something like a faulty transmission linkage that
failed to go from reverse to forward.
I’ve had that happen myself, but
on a C&C 41 it’s not quite so dramatic. Besides which, I had great crew on
board. Before the words were out of my mouth, my crew knew what was happening.
As we were coming into dock after 10 days at sea, I shifted to reverse to slow
us down… no reverse! Jerry jugs flew out of the locker, and Billy shifted
gears at the engine, and we stopped just as planned, although with hearts in
The guys on the megayacht must have had to have a few stiff drinks after
their debacle. Can you imagine parking a $140 million yacht for the first time?
You’d be more than a little nervous. And then to have your worst nightmare come
true, and in front of hundreds of spectators, just makes a bad situation even
worse. Things like that never happen in a totally deserted area. There is
always going to be someone sitting at the bar looking out at the anchorage when
you make the worst cock-up imaginable. I wonder what lucky guy on board got to
make the first call to the owner. It’s at times like that I am glad I was
just an innocent bystander.