Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Has Anyone Seen This Dinghy?

12 foot SKIFF constructed of fiberglass and foam core, grey hull, white interior, interior layout with large forward locker with hatch and two round view ports on the side bench/floatation lockers, mast step made of 3 inch PVC pipe, starboard offset dagger board trunk (it leaks at full speed) four cleats fore and aft. Under she has a full skeg for motoring.
Chris designed the Ultimate Dinghy, to row, sail and motor; all very well. And she was built to withstand us.
Up until the Saturday evening of the Bequia Island Easter Sailing Regatta this skiff was our family truckster. She was 12 feet of workhorse and safety for our family and we miss her greatly. We miss her because the evening of the prize giving at the Sailor's Bar in Bequia she went walkabout, never to be seen by us again.
She has a name, it is minimus.
We take the blame for the loss. Though Chris did carefully tie the unusually large painter that by heft alone would confuse the mistaken owner of another boat who might untie by accident ("hey, big enough painter you got there?" was almost always remarked to us at dinghy docks) and checked the knot, we did not lock minimus. Our mistake.
We did not lock it because we were foolish enough to think she was such an unusual boat that no one would choose her among the many inflatables that look the same, are easily stowed, and would resell anonymously. We thought no one would would want such a beat up looking old skiff scarred from ten years in service to a demanding crew, adults and children alike, as well as various dogs and a cat. The outboard was painted pink to match the coving stripe on Hogfish maximus. Of course it was a Yamaha 15, a much sought after outboard for resale value and because it is a damn good engine (started every time, as long as there was gas in the tank...)We had heard many stories of its popularity with the t'ief trade, and of course engine cowlings can be replaced easily, but we thought... And we trusted the goodness of our fellows on the water. And we wanted to get ashore to join in the fun that we were having that was supplied by the regatta committee. and we did not lock her. Really, really. Foolishly naive? Even after a rediculously long time spent livivng on the water? Oh, yes.
Like I said it is our fault.
So we were able to purchase a new rowing dinghy and have learned it is best to lock up the dinghy and to warn others to lock up theirs. We now notice, with regret for the necessity, all the other locks on the other dinghies at dinghy docks.
But that does not make it any better or make it right that during regattas dinghies go missing at an alarming rate. Nor is it okay that during regattas there is the practice of "borrowing" any dinghy to get back to a boat and then not returning said dinghy but "setting it free" because such an act is theft. Borrowing denotes the act of returning. Nor is it okay that the local police find the practice of dinghy theft so commonplace that it is a bore of a chore to record it and the reply to action is the advice to "Check the anchorage because there are a lot of French boats out there..."
Stating the obvious, it is not okay to steal and resell. Really, really.
We don't know how the dinghy left the dock. We do know there were two other dinghies that did not leave docks with their owners that night; one found two days later back under the dock where we left our dinghy with very large tattered flip flops and a machete on board with little pilchards swimming in it (bait? or did the pilchards really wear such big flip flops when the fairy godmother returned to take them to the ball? and the machete?... I doubt the French keep machetes in their inflatables) We do know that there were two young men startled by a couple who returned to the dock to find the men in their dinghy with a piece of line wrapped around the quick stop button trying to start the couple's dinghy minus its red safety cord which was in the couple's possession since it was their dinghy. The response by the startled young men was oops wrong dinghy. Yeah, you bet.
We did make a call on the VHF to report the loss and got a response from another yacht who lost their dinghy that night and also a saint on St. Vincent who reported the loss to the St. Vincent Coast Guard. I was so shaken that I originally reported minimus as being green. It is grey. It was green, it's original gellcoat colour, many years ago. The Bequia Regatta Committee were very sympathetic and wanted to give us microphone time to explain our loss but who wants to be a bummer on the happy occasion at the final prize giving? Thank you, we did enjoy the Bequia regatta very much and would love to return. Some of my favourite people on Bequia are the Ratsas at the market. One suggested that someone else wanted the dinghy more than us. Maybe so, but I don't like that philosophy so much.
Now minimus could be anywhere, Easter being months ago. And she could be green again or white or blue, or all of the above. or she could still be floating on the currents, because she is core she will be floating, even full of rainwater. She was our life raft.
We fantasize that minimus is being enjoyed by a family who found her floating off some quiet island in Panama maybe and there are many fish being placed into her again and the family is being taken safely home in any weather as she made the passage for us many times over.

BUT, if you do see this dinghy let us know. There is a reward. Maybe she will be our dinghy once again.

And if nothing else, lock your dinghy. Give someone reason to not let your dinghy be taken from you.

stay safe,

1 comment:

Treva said...

Rachel and Chris, I know I am going to enjoy your blog. It's off to a great start except for the missing Minimus part. I do hope you see her again. Bookmarking the blog. Love the fish art!