There is this weather phenomenon that happens here in the Caribbean in the winter months and it’s known locally as the “Christmas Winds.” These winds typically kick up in late December (hence the name) and are a result of a dominant high pressure area to the Northeast that is typical this time of year (much like hurricanes are “typical” between June and November). When the isobars get tight, the wind gets stronger – producing fresh, consistent winds of 25-30 knots here in the Windward and Leeward islands – sometimes for weeks on end. With wind comes waves and these winds typically kick up a pretty brutal Northern swell that makes many anchorages open to the North untenable when they are honking.
Another thing these winds bring with them? Well – if you are in a marina – a lot of noise. Wind generators start whizzing and buzzing, dock lines start squeaking and – this is the very worst – halyards start slapping. For those of you who are “weekend warrior” sailors – perhaps the sound of clanking halyards is a pleasant one that signifies a good stiff breeze or just awakens a little nostalgia in your soul. To us live-aboards, however, clanking halyards are a HUGE pain in the ass. Especially when they clank for days…and days…and days. They bring out the worst in people, much like flying stand-by.
There’s this boat across the dock from us that has been here oh, I don’t know, since we got here I think. I have never seen a soul on it. This boat, however, has become the bane of my existence and is the most unfriendly of neighbors. When the wind kicks up I hear this little boat’s halyards clanking and banging away at the mast like a five year old on a drum set. For a long time I gritted my teeth, turned up my music and just ignored it.
Things have changed.
The Christmas Winds combined with my pregnancy-induced lowered tolerance for all things that annoy me on top of a sleepless night due to said halyard, however, forced me to take matters into my own hands. I’d had enough. I grabbed one of our 300 or so bungee chords, marched over to the boat, boarded the boat and bungeed that damn halyard to a shroud. And then I smiled and sighed. All was quiet. No more banging. Sweet relief.
The guy on the boat next to me said “Thank you.” Apparently it was bugging him as well. How could it not? For those of you who don’t know the sound – go to your nearest flag pole on a very windy day. It’s like that. _ Really annoying._
I felt a bit odd boarding a total strangers boat and was hesitant to even mention it because – to be honest – I was pretty sure it was illegal. But being the open and candid person I am, I took to our Facebook page to declare victory over the rogue halyard and lo and behold, it turns out this is a totally acceptable, okay thing to do! People do it all the time! One reader even pointed out that the wonderful Beth Leonard states in The Voyager’s Handbook that: “It is considered exceedingly rude to board another’s boat when the owner is not aboard. The only exceptions are when the boat is in danger or …you need to secure a slapping halyard” (p. 532).
Moral of the story: If you don’t want strangers boarding your boat and/or want to make friends while at a marina (or anchorage – because sound carries over water!), bungee those halyards!
Brittany & Scott
_When two people, with the same life long dream of sailing around the world find each other, there’s only one thing to do… make it happen!
Which is precisely what we, Scott and Brittany, are doing aboard our boat, Rasmus, a Hallberg-Rassy 35 which departed from Chicago September 2010! Follow along at _