Near Drowning

On my first out bound passage to the Caribbean I was sailing from the UK to the Canaries with a brief stopover in Bayonna, NW Spain.

In Bayonna we topped up our supplies including far too much Fundador - a delicious tasting Spanish Brandy. The day after leaving Bayonna found us drifting along with full sails in a light breeze with the sun belting down and we had a very pleasant lunch with a little too much alcohol imbued - especially the Spanish Brandy. One of my crew wanted to jump in the sea to swim as we were sailing along. I said no but only if he tied a rope around himself - tethered to the boat. He did this but then sat on the rail pondering what to do. Unfortunately he was then toppled in which caused the rope to wrap around his ankle. The consequence was that he was dragged behind the boat by his ankle causing him to have to fight hard to keep his head out of the sea to breathe. In panic, all sorts of lifebuoys etc. were thrown in the sea - all of which floated past him. It was only when we took down / de powered all the sails that we managed to drag him in. He was pretty much drowned by then but fortunately one of my crew was a recently retired first mate of a Merchant Ship and was well trained on his medicals. He laid him out on the fore deck and pumped all the water out of his lungs and he recovered. He then spent the next couple of days shaking in his bunk in a state of shock despite the warm weather outside.

Needless to say I now strictly limit the amount of alcohol drunk underway and we only swim in the Oceans in light or no winds with all sails down and a fender on a long rope floating off the stern for grabbing in emergency.