THE FISH THAT SAVED EXIT ONLY
Back in the 1980s, I watched a TV show called the A-Team. The plot had unpredictable twists and turns, and against insurmountable odds, the heros always emerged winners. When the dust settled on the action, the leader of the A-Team said, "I love it when a plan comes together."
Although it was just a TV show, it taught me an important lesson. When bad things happen to good people, you have to keep moving forward, and sooner or later, your plan will come together, and you will win.
Bad things happen to good people all the time, and sometimes seemingly bad things turn out to be good. They even can save your life.
That's exactly what happened when a fish tried to sink Exit Only.
Exit Only was in Niharn Bay in Phuket, Thailand on December 24, 2004.
It was the day before Christmas, and Real Ocean Cruisers gathered at a restaurant on the waterfront for a Christmas Party.
Three-hundred sailors crammed the restaurant that night celebrating and discussing their plans for sailing across the Indian Ocean and up the Red Sea.
We made new friends who ended up sailing with us nearly a third of the way around the world.
Little did we know that in less than 48 hours, that restaurant would be no more. The only thing left would be a concrete slab after a tsunami washed it away.
On December 25, our plan was to move Exit Only to Chalong Bay where we could go to an internet cafe and reestablish contact with the outside the world. It would take several hours to round a headland and drop our anchor in Chalong Bay, but the fickle finger of fate had other plans.
The toilet on Exit Only developed a leak, and the toilet bowl was overflowing.
The top of the toilet bowl is just below water line, and if the inlet side of the toilet malfunctions, the toilet fills up with water and overflows. It creates a slow and inexorable siphoning of water into the boat (Back then we didn't have a siphon breaker valve in the intake hose).
The sea gods decided that December 25 was an excellent day for the toilet bowl to relentlessly overflow. That was the end of our plan to sail to Chalong Bay.
Real Ocean Cruisers have a love hate relationship with their marine heads. They love it when they need to use it and it's working, and they hate it when things go wrong.
A quick fix can turn into a monumentally challenging task.
December 25 turned into toilet fixing day on Exit Only. Merry Christmas to us.
We had never encoutered this type of leak, and Team Exit Only had to go where we had never gone before. We were in uncharted territory, and we did not know what we would find or how bad it would get.
We closed the intake throughhull which stopped the leak. Next we had to disassemble the pump that makes the head function.
Much to our surprise, we discovered a tiny fish trying to sink our boat. The fish had been sucked up the intake hose and had lodged in a valve that controls the flow of water into the head. The fish prevented the valve from closing which allowed water to siphon into the head. When you examine the picture of the fish, you can see the semicircular imprint of the valve near the tail of the fishes' corpse.
Once we removed the offending fish and reassembled the head pump, water no longer siphoned into the boat.
The little fish made a big problem that stopped us from setting sail. Our trip to Chalong Bay would have to wait for another day.
The next morning we got up and we raised our anchor in Niharn Bay.
By midmorning, we were half way to Chalong when we noticed disturbed water swirling around our hull. When we sailed through that area previously, the water was calm. In addition, we saw waves breaking on offshore islands.
When we reached the entrance to Chalong bay, we knew something was wrong. Water in the bay had turned to the color of milky coffee. It was a cafe au liat bay.
We turned on our VHF radio and started listening to the chatter.
A devasting tsunami had struck Thailand and beyond, and more than 100,000 people were killed on the shores of the Thailand, Indonsia, and the Indian Ocean.
The worst place to be in a tsunami is in a shallow bay, and Chalong is extremely shallow. When a tsunami happens, all the water gets sucked out of the bay, and when the water returns, it returns with a vengance. A wall of water sweeps across the bay destroying anything in its path.
The tsunami washed yachts up on the shore in Chalong.
If Exit Only had been anchored in Chalong, it might have been the end of Exit Only and her crew.
Instead, we were sailing in deep water when the tsunami struck.
A tiny fish changed our destiny.
If that fish had not created a leak in our head, we would have been anchor down in Chalong Bay when the tsunami struck.
That tiny fish probably saved Exit Only.
I don't know if providence played a part in our survival, but a tiny fish changed the course of our lives.
When seemingly bad things happen, sometimes those bad things turn out to be good.
I love it when a plan comes together.
Abbotts always come through.
Now you know how a fish saved Exit Only.
Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.
Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.
If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.
Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.
Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.
Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.
After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.
Although I like the feel of a paper book in my hand, I love trees even more. When people purchase an eBook, they actually save trees and save money as well. Ebooks are less expensive and have no negative impact on the environment. All of Dr. Dave's books are available at Save A Tree Bookstore. Visit the bookstore today and start putting good things into your mind. It's easy to fill your mind with positive things using eBooks. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can pull out your smart phone or tablet and start reading. You can even use electronic highlighters and make annotations in your eBooks just like paper books.