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 Skinned Alive!


 Mick Osborn, the author and his first mate, Gonzo on "Freefall".

 By Michael Osborn…
Captain of the erratic ship “Freefall”

So tell me Bob… is there any 'real' way to begin a story?
Would a beer in hand help? A tiller in the other? Sails up and the slosh of water flowing past? Whats that…? I've started already? Oh. Might as well continue then.

Who, what, where, why? Well… we were engaged in all of the above, beer, tillers, sails, movement and story telling. 'We' or 'the cast' being; The author and boat owner 'a saltwater feral' known as Mick Osborn, and 'Cowboy', ‘The Boss’, ‘Glenn the moron' and the star of this insignificant occurrence 'Jamie' (owner of the now scarred arse… see attached photos!). Collectively we were ‘The paint crew’ and had just finished painting someone’s 'Woftam' oops…sorry…lovely proud vessel.

The Boss… being foolish (as all bosses are prone to be) had offered to buy the alcohol if I would consent to casting ropes and taking the motley lot sailing. Being fond of said alcoholic beverages and fond of sailing I joined the ranks of the foolish and agreed.

Alcohol, boats and sailing at night… who can spot the mistake here? Please send answers to me via the 'Coastal Passage' as I can't figure it out myself.

Obviously something went wrong… but I can't tell you exactly what as of yet as it would spoil a perfectly good yarn!

I arrived like all good captains…late. The boys were aboard already and as they immediately handed me a good (un-opened) can of bourbon and coke I chose not to 'repel' the lot of them. A good thing too…seeing it was me on the wharf and them onboard my Catamaran said 'repelling' would have taken some doing…or not… depending upon where you stood if you get my drift.

Anyway, we started engines and cast ropes, cleared the marina and hoisted sails. Engines off, sails full, bows to sea… all is good, pass the Captain another bourbon.

The ‘Boss’ was suffering mild dementia at this time having put up with the 'stress' of the job (watching us earn you the big bucks must be hard), the 'stress' of owning a 23ft boat when one of your workers owns a 33ft boat, the 'stress'of having kids at home, the 'stress'… well you get the picture. He looked comfortable at the tiller so the Captain ordered his drinks to be 'chain delivered', huh? Oh… think chain smoker… got the picture again? Good. Where was I?

Ahhh…enjoying a pleasant sail with mates, quaffing some nerve-calming elixir and watching the sun go down. World is good…pass me another bourbon.

You would think once away from the work scene the 'Boss' would unwind and relax… but nooo… the 'Boss' still has 'requests' to make… more SPEED… hmmm OK, multihulls are good at that so we tighten down and start hitting 10+ knots…pass the 'Boss' another drink. What? You haven't finished the last one? Ya Sook… the boys are well in front in the drinking stakes. They only have to stand around and make my boat look ugly, so no surprise that moments later the chant of Skull, skull, skull has its effect and the 'Boss' cracks another beer. Being a good Captain I join him in navigating... with a bourbon in hand.

Anybody seeing a recurring theme here?
Lets see… the memory is a bit fuzzy… 1x carton Corona, 2x carton Bourbon and Coke, 2x carton VB, 1x carton XXXX gold… Lucky I brought a packet of chips or we would have been drinking on empty stomachs…
Captains brain at work there.

We put in 40 odd minutes of fine sailing, allowed the sun to settle over the horizon, an important procedure you know… who wants to sail with the sun in their eyes? Ahh… sundown. Pass me another bourbon. Helm over… the highly trained crew handling the gybe with ease… they were in a relaxed frame of mind ya know?

Man is a city pretty at night, all those twinkly little lights back dropping the harbour… and the lead lights, port/starboard lights, special marks, spoil ground marks… uh oh. “Everyone get a full drink and lets play a little game” The game being… where is the harbour entrance? Don't you love the spirited discussion this sort of thing can bring on? It's happened on your boat too huh? So we all adjourn to the bows of the boat leaving The ‘Boss’ at the stern pleading for directions. No problems.

Although you may not believe it we made port without incident… some spirited arguing… but no incidents. How lucky can you be? You need to understand something here… our stocks were running low and the mere thought of running out of fluid supplies used to scare pirates never-mind us 'normal' type people. So it was with good cheer that we turned upwind inside the harbour and I as Captain went forward to the mast to handle the lowering of the mainsail.

Accidents suck don't they? There is usually very little warning though hind sight will show up the tell-tale markers you missed at the time.

“Man-Overboard”… the utterance of these words is never a joke. I had enough time to look away from the mast then the deep 'Thud, thud thud' of the outboard hitting something shook the boat. The third strike was enough to stall the motor. No screams from under the boat.

I looked at the ‘Boss’ and knew he was thinking the same horrible thought. Ever seen something that has been hit by an outboard? I have…on the 'Net'…ugly. We both swallowed…there were no screams and no body appearing out from under the deck. My gut sank… hard.

Bedlam, people yelling, running, peering under the boat.
Jamie was gone. It always seems like hours doesn't it?

Thump! “There he is!” Splash…Cowboy goes in…all eyes on the water. We heave the two of them aboard… Jamies eyes are huge and white. His hands are holding the front of his shirt over his 'jewels'. I will leave out the expletives as this is apparantly a magazine for all ages… but I'm sure you know what they would be.

The million dollar question finally gets priority.

“Yeah… I'm OK… it ate my shorts but…”

We look from one to another astonished…people don't go through a round with an outboard and win…it's universally unheard of.
“Give us a look”
He turns and there we see the damage… the same damage you should see attached to this article…photo's tell the tale well don't they?

Yes we tied up fine, Yes we partied till late that night, Yes Jamie couldn't sit down for days, No I haven't taken them out again…and strangely enough The ‘Boss’ won't buy us any more alcohol.

There is no moral to the story… sailing isn't about morals… not that I'm aware of anyway! Cheers and remember… the world is running out of oil… outboards will no longer be dangerous and sailors will rule the earth…don't believe me? Bring a few bourbons over to the good cat' 'Freefall' and we'll argue about it!

Bob’s note; $10 worth of honesty is worth a million bucks of PC.

I have seen what a prop can do to a human body... Jamie, you one lucky could have been turned the other way!