The Crazy Fools…Who Don’t Drown


Phyllis and I had left Portugal on Morgan's Cloud just after a storm and got in at Porto Santo just ahead of another one...and the middle part of the two day passage was no picnic. Since arriving we had been hanging on at anchor by our fingernails, waiting for a gap to head for the Canaries, as one gale after another howled over the breakwater.

As we sat in the cockpit one afternoon, a small gaff rigged ketch appeared, beating through the arms of the breakwater. At the helm was a wild haired and bushy bearded man dressed in a pareo and an old tweed jacket.

The man guided the ketch deftly and purposefully toward us with one of his bare feet on the tiller, making the task of beating into a small harbour, raked with gusting multi-directional winds, look easy.

As the ketch crossed our stern, a biscuit toss away, the skipper yelled,

John, we're twelve days out of Falmouth, d'you have any rum?

Oh, one detail I forgot to mention, it was January.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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