The End.

It is with enormous sadness that I must announce the end of my efforts here, at least for the time being.

     I am at a loss to explain myself. I find that I am no nearer to having a seaworthy vessel now than I was several months ago, despite endless hours of work and thought. This has long puzzled me – how I can put in so much time with so little real progress…I have now ground completely to a halt after the latest disatrous test, and after sixteen months here I feel I will lose my mind if I continue the struggle. At the very least, I require a long break from this place; accordingly a friend will store the boat whilst I return to the States, how I will feel about coming back here is anyone’s guess.

        I took the boat out again a few days ago. It went fast but was a pain to shunt, and the new steering system, the sixth or seventh I have made, was clearly not working out, being heavy and throwing up a lot of spray. The dog would not be left on the beach but once aboard whined constantly…I’d had hopes that he would acclimatize but now I do not think so, he hates it more than ever.

      I was dismasted three or four times, I think that this happens not just from backwinding but because the rigging stretches so much when wet, but also dries out at times so there is no way I can keep it tuned. Each dismasting resulted in new holes in my 40-hour sail, and the whole rig would become stuck beneath the boat, the wind pushing the boat against it making such pressure that it was impossible to get it back aboard. I had to swim around and below the boat untying the sail, the drag all the various pieces aboard one by one. The dog would leap overboard too whenever I did, and had to be rescued every time. All this, which was quite exhausting, with 3 or 4 foot waves and swell pounding at me all the time.  One time it happened and I drifted over a mile before even managing to get everything back on board, let alone sorted out and re-rigged. Had this occurred off a reef or rocky shore it would have been the end of me.

             The backwinding is a serious problem. Take your hand off the tiller or space out for a moment and you find yourself with the wind on the wrong side of the sail and in danger of capsizing by the outrigger being pushed into the sea. It happens too often for comfort.

             One time the steering jammed and the tiller snapped off in my hand. We veered downwind and were back-winded, all the rigging plunged into the sea. I spent a long time in the water, but could not get the sail out. I felt an overwhelming sense of dismay and disappointment. Eventually we washed up on the beach, where I sorted everything out and relaunched, only to be capsized almost immediately, completely turned turtle. This was worse. I could not right her. Even in water no deeper than my knees I had to take the deck off before I could turn her back over. This final indignity really shredded the sail.

        The boat is too heavy, something I have fretted over endlessly. She sits too low because she does not displace enough water. The rigging is too complex and unreliable. The outrigger seems to be vulnerable to unwanted separation and possible catastrophic damage. I can’t right from a capsize single handed. The steering is such a headache it makes me nauseous to think about it. I feel I can solve most of these problems, but it will take more time and energy than I now I have left, hence, sick with disappointment I shall leave in a few days. I wish that I had not chosen to build such a strange boat, or that I had spent the last sixteen months and all this money working on my house, for then I might have something to show for my efforts. I’m not too happy about disappointing all the folks expecting to make some sort of journey. I’m not too happy at all.

           I do have the dog at least, and he will be coming with me.

           So, my apologies everyone. Thanks for reading. Chris.

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8 thoughts on “The End.

  1. Apologies? Don’t need them! You have given me (us?) SO much more. What is life but for trying; you have inspired, amazed and reduced me to fits of laughter more than anyone over these months. You have built a beautiful boat (truly), with the tautest adherance to integrity than I have ever known (bar some of Your earlier non-proa projects). You are a dear friend who, having placed himself agaist odds insurmountable to we mere vicarious mortals here; exhaustedly hanging on your every word; phantomly aching in the shadow of each rigourous launch; distantly cheering you on in your striving pursuance of a dream; have truly succeeded! Your anarchic adventure into seaworthiness – ok maybe drop the sea – but iconaclastic worthiness it has been stuffed to the gunnels with. I for one am so incredibly proud to know you, to have been priviledged enough to be able to follow your fantastic exploits and absolutely blessed that you know not to risk yourself, by once having found the limits, not overextending yourself. This way, I’m hoping to see you just as soon as I would by waiting down the Bristol docks for my mexican Pringle import, and more than very glad to know you are alive & well (& even have a waggy friend). Sorry for the rambling missive – it’s near 5.30am as I’ve spent a long brain-aching night persuading an old server to do new filesharing tricks – and I must rouse my weary petrolhead from the pillow for the Barcelona F1 in a few hours. Such is the mundanity of my ‘normal’ life! Feel proud of your achievements and simply change focus. I believe these blogs are a fledgeling talent rare and worthy of continuing.. please strive to keep them afloat and buoy our spirits as you have been thus far matey. Would love to see you for a tot sometime. With dog in tow I guess it may be a while, but hope all goes well and I’m sure you will find another superpowered quest to embark on soon enough. Love you loads, will try to write again when my brain activity might register. Just had to get straight back to you once I read your post xxx 😛

  2. Hi Chris

    I have been following your blogs and have been inspired to think of you and your dog building the boat in the sun while others of us toil over computers in air conditioned offices. It’s so good to know you are out there living the dream. Keeps me going anyway, be it building boats or roads!

    The footage of you sailing was amazing. So fast when it got going. Well done that man I say. Not everything works out as we expect. Apparently, actually going out and doing it is what it’s about. You certainly do that. Truly inspiring mate.

    Please don’t forget you have friends across the pond where you are most welcome to stay if you fancy a change of culture.

    Having read your latest blog it sounds as if someone is looking out for you, so you must have done something right. Phew! I must admit I did laugh when reading about your dog jumping in after you and needing to be rescued. Dogs eh! Not so funny at the time I guess. Makes a good story though. Ever though of writing? You’re very good at it.

    All the best with everything. Thinking of you.

    Loads of love and big hugs Mac

  3. So sad to see an end to this story. You should publish it as a book.
    See you back in the States? Michael and I are no more and I have moved out and work back at NRC again. Life goes on….

  4. YOU ARE AMAZING! IF IT DON’T KILL YOU, IT WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER. SOMETIMES THINGS JUST DON’T WORK OUT AND WE LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES I FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT MY PAST TRIP TO NORTH CAROLINA AND WHAT I COULD HAVE DONE WITH THE 40 GRAND I LOST TRYING TO SURVIVE THERE. BUT WHAT AN ADVENTURE YOU HAD AND YOU ARE A FABULOUS WRITER, THANK YOU FOR SHARING IT ALL. WILL YOU COME VISIT US AT THE TREE? PERSONALLY I AM SO GLAD THAT YOU DID NOT GO OUT TO SEA AND POSSIBLY GET HURT OR KILLED. MUCH LOVE KRYSA

  5. Hi Chris

    I read your blog and your comments on proafile.
    I’ve sworn to never post there again cause of the hostility but i’m happy to be in contact with you.
    First of all I’m worried for your physical condition which is likely to be an epoxy allergy.
    Check it out as a possibility.
    Second I love your writing, third your proa will work if you take some advice.
    Get back to me some time.

    Great stuff

    Harmen

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