I’m very excited to share with you a guest post from some truly world-class adventurers and authors of the great book, Beer in the Bilges. It would be hard to find three more different guys than New Zealander “Hollywood” Bob Rossiter, Australian entrepreneur and ardent traveler Peter Jinks, and Canadian engineer turned sailing trainer/Cooper Boating director turned consultant Alan Boreham. When the three set off from different points in the world – one in the company of a Hollywood star, one racing aboard a classic wooden yacht, and one on his first high seas adventure – none of them had any idea that either a series of unanticipated events will eventually bring them together in the tropical swelter of Pago Pago or that they would eventually write all about it. Beer in the Bilges offers a fascinating glimpse into sailing voyages to the other side of the world where three men join forces and have to rely on their skills, their wit, and, most importantly, on each other as they embark on an unforgettable nautical adventure.
Probably the greatest adventure that we have shared was trying to deliver the classic, fifty-five-foot gaff -rigged ketch named Ron of Argyll from Pago Pago to Honolulu for the Australian owner.
We were all young at heart and living the dream of sailing a beautiful yacht through some of the most amazing cruising destinations in the world. It was an adventure, but one that was suddenly testing our resolve.
The winds had risen to gale force, and as the old girl punched into the growing seas, water was gushing in somewhere—we couldn’t tell where—and filling the bilges. With 1,800 miles to go, we took to the manual bilge pumps to try to dry her out so that we could find the source of the leaks.
The search proved futile, and we worked just to stay afloat. With each of us following an exhausting, nonstop routine of an hour on the tiller, an hour on the pump, and an hour of sleep, after two days we were stumbling around like zombies.
Bob swore that he had seen an empty beer bottle full of cockroaches washing around in the bilge, with the butt of the biggest one stuffed into the opening like a cork, making a cockroach lifeboat. That may have been the incentive we needed to turn around and try to make it the five hundred miles back to Samoa. Otherwise it was just three miles to land—straight down.
As we were to find out later, it was a wise decision, as we unwittingly avoided an approaching hurricane that surely would have spelled the end of that lovely yacht—and us along with it.