Rule # 2 – Shit will happen

Rule #2 of sailing according to my friend Vaughan, is: “Shit will happen”

Generally it happens when you are sailing along minding your own business, having a great time, thinking about how great things are and then whammo – all of a sudden someone nearly slices off their finger, the kite gets stuck at the top of the mast, and you realise that you have got a bit of a situation on your hands…

Blood was spilt on Wildy today ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

We have discussed before the number 1 rule of sailing, which for those who have forgotten is “Look good”

This usually is relatively easy to do – just make sure you’ve got your kite hoisted up the right way, you aren’t sailing along with your fenders out, and you are generally not being a dick,ย that kind of thing.

Once you have got that all under control, you will realise that even though you are sailing along nicely and obeying the #1 rule, quite quickly rule #2 can (and will) happen. The shit will hit the fan.

Take today for example. We had a perfect 8-10 kt breeze with nice flat water. We were racing in the Naval Point Club Lyttelton Winter Series race. Andrew was on the helm, and handling the main, I was having a crack at being a gun bowchick, and Vaughan was doing everything else with the assistance of Laura trimming the sails.

After my average kite hoist, and whilst dropping the headsail, the extremely sharp very important emergency safety knife, which is in an easily accessible spot – should we need to cut a line very quickly – unfortunately became entangled in the halyard as the sail was coming down. This bought the knife swiftly flying upwards and sliced in to Vaughan’s finger.

Now this is where Rule #3 of sailing comes in to play… “When Shit happens – refer to Rule #1”

Without missing a beat we spurred the kids in to action who were all playing down below. They immediately located the first aid kit and administered plasters to the patient before too much blood was spilt on the deck (it’s really hard to get blood off the deck and that does not look good…) oh and to of course ensure that the patient didn’t lose his finger.


With one near disaster out of the way, and of course continuing to race all through the medical procedure, we were feeling pretty smug, as you do. Little did we know that the next disaster was looming.

We were nearing the bottom mark, so we hoisted the headsail up and prepared for the kite drop. Except, the kite did not want to come down. I’d had an inkling that this might happen – we’d had the same issue last week, and it just wasn’t feeling right, but we had managed to free it the last couple drops. This time however it wouldn’t come down.

13151600_10156780128125005_3167144470669368262_nThe halyard wouldn’t go up or down… photo credit Kris Nissen

Its quite hard to obey Rule #3 when you are in the shit. But we did our best. Quickly dropping the headsail and main, starting the motor, whipping out the bosons chair, positioning Laura and Soph on the bow to hold the kite and attempt to stop it filling, with Seth on the helm and Vaughan, Will and I winching Andrew up the mast. Time was of the essence as we were sailing downwind and towards shallow water.


Andrew got to the top of the mast, pinged the clip on the kite halyard sending seemingly miles of pink fabric down on to the girls below. We pulled the halyard up and down, but it wouldn’t budge, so we left it up there, and brought Andrew back down.

The race abandoned, we went back to the mooring to enjoy a well deserved beer, and then I got a splinter!

In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t all that bad. We’ve had worse shit and we are bound to have more – after all – “it does happen”. I think Vaughan will keep his finger, the blood will wash off the deck, we will somehow figure out how to retrieve the halyard, and Andrew managed to dig the splinter out of my finger.

Tune in next time when we discuss Rule #3 and how to achieve it in more detail…ย What experiences have you had with Rule #2?


7 thoughts on “Rule # 2 – Shit will happen

    • That’s the nature of boats! But as long as you look good while up to your armpits in it, no worries!
      Oh, and I never race on my own boat. When Rule #2 plays out, I want it to be on a SEB! (Somebody Else’s Boat!)


  1. Pingback: Accidents Will Happen | Astrolabe Sailing

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