Sailing Mango

The Tragedy Of Pineaple


Well that is not a good sound. Anything that is not a familiar sound on a boat is usually something either a) breaking, or b) something big breathing right next to the freakin boat. This was the former.

I spun around to look behind us, and sure enough the line we were using to tow our dinghy, Pineapple, had broken, and we were now towing her by the safety line at the stern of the dinghy. It was completely filled with water.

It had been a long day of boat prep. We said we would like to get out of the anchorage by 9:00 am, but 11:00 would work as well. We left at 2:30 pm. By then the winds were 20 knots on the nose, and the waves were 3-5' with a four second period. Not comfortable. Our normal speed of 6.5 knots was down to 4.5 on average, often dropping to 2 knots when we hit a particularly large wave. Not long before the dinghy line parted we took a wave over the bow that caught me on the foredeck and filled the forward cabin with enough salt water to make a mess of E's cloths and bedding. We dogged down the forward hatch after that.

Pineapple was our main dinghy, a fourteen foot long port-a-bote. It folds lengthwise down to about eight inches thick, thin enough that we stowed it in a kayak rack on the side of Mango. It planes easily, is relatively easy to row, and very roomy. However it is a pain in the neck to actually fold and unfold on Mango, and I didn't relish attempting it while pitching a rolling wildly in these crazy seas. But what can you do?

We decided to hoist it up from the stern using the mizzen halyard to drain the water. How to collapse the transom while it was suspended fourteen feet up in the air and start folding the boat would have to be figured out later. As the bote came up Mango's transom, she banged back and forth, rattling between the two mizzen back stays, crashing into the grill as she went.

It was basically impossible to hold Pineapple steady. Kristen tried while I cranked her up and got banged around more than Pineapple. We switched positions and I tell ya, I was very happy that I was tethered to Mango. It would have been quite scary if there had been time to think about it.

When Pineapple's transom had finally been lifted above our heads off the back of Mango, and the bow was about a foot below the deck, a gust took her out of my hands as easy as pie. She flew like a kite from the mizzen, all 130 pounds flying off of Mango, like a gallant pennant from the sailing schooners of two hundred years ago. Then she sailed over and around the side of Mango, and crashed into the mizzen shrouds. The rig shook and rang dissonantly. Holy crap.

It was time to let go. We just couldn't figure out how to safely get her on board and stowed in those crazy conditions. Kristen lowered her down, I disconnected the mizzen halyard, and she was cast free. I never felt so sad on this boat as I was at that moment. Not only were we letting our family truck go, but it was admitting defeat, and bad seamanship. Bad seamanship.

As I sit in my bunk safe and sound in San Jose Del Cabo, it still feels like it was the right decision. We had been wrestling with Pineapple for ages, trying to find better ways to assemble and disassemble her without much luck. It just sucks to have made it in that way.

So now we are on the lookout for a new dinghy. While we wait and search, we will adjust to life without a fast car, row our little rowboat, and paddle around on the SUP. It sounds kinda nice actually.