You say throw, I throw - a confession by Paul Russell


After an arduous 10-hour completion of a recent Round the Island Race, White Mistral and her crew were making passage back to our Haslar mooring, and more importantly, the pub.

We noticed a small 24ft sailing yacht in dire straits off Gilkicker Point. It had been dismasted and its engine had also ceased working.

At the helm was a young woman, seemingly all alone. Feeling chivalrous and intrigued, we felt compelled to render assistance.

It was clear that the powerless vessel would soon be in peril, so in a flash, White Mistral’s skipper and owner dived into the starboard locker and threw me a long coiled rope.

He grabbed the helm and shouted instructions that as we passed, I was to throw the line to the stricken vessel.

As we motored and positioned ourselves alongside the vessel, cautious to avoid any of the rigging debris in the water, on the command ‘Throw!’, I duly and diligently took aim and launched the rope to the troubled yacht.

My efforts were met with incredulous looks on both White Mistral’s and the stricken yacht’s skipper’s face – who had now returned to the helm after working on his failed engine – as we passed each other, and simply kept going!

I had not attached the end of the line to our boat, scuppering starting the towing process.

Fluent Anglo Saxon was uttered by my skipper as we had to undertake another risky pass to collect the tow-rope.

Thanks to his skill, the stricken yacht accepted our tow on the second attempt.

We took her into Haslar and the grateful crew got the first round in that evening to thank us for our troubles.

We still discuss this incident frequently.

The skipper believes that common sense required me to attach at least one end of the rope before throwing, though I maintain I simply did exactly what an experienced skipper told me to do.

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