When enthusiasm is a recipe for disaster


This is Yellowdrama IV, a Swan 57 on which I crossed the pond from Lymington to Nantucket in 1994. My fellow watchmate, let’s call him Robert, was an industrious character, an avid shorthanded sailor, incapable of repose and an inveterate tinkerer. It was a disposition that had made him supremely able in many technical areas.

Off watch one day, and with time clearly weighing heavily on his restless mind, he turned his hand to a sticky cutlery drawer than always needed a bit of a rattle before it gave up the eating irons. Robert was a demon at ticking items off the list of little jobs that never quite seem to get done.

For an hour he tended the drawer’s runners with wet and dry, testing it every five minutes or so until it glided in and out without the slightest hesitation. Delighted by the simple fact of a job well done, he reloaded the eating irons, replaced the drawer and headed up the companionway with a smile, in search of the next task.

Within a minute, the boat heeled gracefully into a gust and the newly improved drawer sailed across the cabin and exploded in a crash of stainless steel against the chart table.