Dashew Offshore History: Lessons Learned

1Intermezzo BoraBora 1977

Our family cruising photo taken in the Bora Bora lagoon in 1977. Note the banana stalk hanging off the mizzen boom, and trim physiques of the group! We’d been relaxing for a few days, chilling, reading, swimming, and for the first time since leaving California nine months previous not working on boat on maintenance projects. Those were the days..

Intermezzo kids017

Our Bill Trip designed Intermezzo, a 50-foot light air “rocket” in that era, designed to the CCA racing rule. She represented a major portion of our house budget, we were uninsured, and we were always a little worried about the lack of watertight bulkheads as well as the 24(!) through hulls. Although she wan’t the perfect boat, or even halfway to ideal, at least we were out there cruising.

Intermezzo kids003

Linda, Elyse, and Sarah shell collecting on Suverov atoll in the Northern Cook Islands, a magical dot in the South Pacific, where we almost parked Intermezzo on a permanent basis. We’d left Bora Bora in a disturbed weather pattern that turned out to be the beginning of reinforced trade winds. It blew 30 to 40 knots from the east-southeast, and we had a glorious sail under heavy staysail and double reefed main. Our celestial navigation was suspect because of the boat’s motion. A low atoll is hard to see from a distance, sometimes not seen until you are right on top of it. In the pre GPS days when a landfall like this didn’t show up at the designated time, we had a bailout plan to change direction and get us out of the area – we hoped. In this case the palm trees on an islet off the pass hove into view at the appointed time, and all aboard heaved a sigh of relief.

Your correspondent began to relax, a difficult landfall behind us with the prospect of a calm night’s sleep ahead. Starting down the companionway for a bit of sustenance and taking a last look around as we crested a wave, there appeared a line of breakers. Those palm trees we had sighted were on the other side of the reef. Course was adjusted to the north, and we eventually made our way through the swiftly flowing current of Suverov’s pass. And we learned to make sure we had a lookout on deck at all times when we were in reef strewn waters.

1Intermezzo 11 New Caledonia gale baking bread

En route to Noumea, New Caledonia, from Whangaroa harbor at the top of New Zealand. It had been blowing a gale for three days. We’d lingered in lovely Whangaroa, enjoying warm weather as a high pressure pushed across the Tasman Sea. In those days we were not sufficiently weather aware to understand that after the high pressure comes the low, and that meant head winds. Timing was everything as the winds were light at first, and our friends Jim and Cheryl Schmidt powered over the horizon while we sailed. They were far enough north that they missed our head winds, and had a lovely trip while we had to battle across. We vowed to learn more about weather routing and to make freer use of the engine when winds were light!

Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 20, 2016)

6 Responses to “Dashew Offshore History: Lessons Learned”

  1. John M Says:

    Looks like you made some amazing memories with your family. Just purchased my first boat (small power boat) to do the same with mine. When you said “we had a bailout plan to change direction and get us out of the area – we hoped.” would you “bail out” so you wouldn’t mistakenly run over a low atoll? If you bailed out how do you know you wouldn’t hit it when you changed direction?

  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi John:
    We still have a bailout plan in any situation that engenders risk. Better to have an alternative planned then be caught empty handed. In answer to your question, we usually had a pretty good idea of the risk sectors to avoid. The safest was to backtrack and wait for better visibility or a good celestial observation. Second was just heaving to. Third was typically heading at right angles to our course.

  3. PJ Says:

    It’s easy to see how much your lifestwyle choice has benefitted your family. And now that you’re making such strides making cruising safe for others, it’s easy to see how much love you hold for this endeavour.
    BTW, still have that necklace?

  4. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks PJ:
    My Grandson, Ian, is now the custodian of the shark vertebrae necklace. It was a gift from friends on Takaroa, one of the lovely atolls in the Tuamotus.

  5. PJ Says:

    Hey, how about a launch countdown for the Fabulous Cochise!

  6. Steve Dashew Says:

    Sunday Cochise heads down the road to the launch facility. After which there are a few bottom paint details that need attention. And then…