Saturday, September 7, 2019

A Modern Viking Sea Legend - Doggy to the Rescue

A Meeting between Viking Leaders
"20,000 Swedes, running through the reeds, chased by
One Norwegian"
(old Norwegian joke)

Having been married to a Swedish-born Canadian for over 40 years, I know quite a bit about the ancient rivalry between the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark.  I have visited all three countries over the years. Once, years ago, while in Sweden visiting my husband's relatives, I was mistaken for a "Norwegian" due to my natural red hair and fair complexion.  I probably do have some Norwegian blood in my veins...but, if so, it dates back to the era when the Norwegian Vikings raped and pillaged their way down the coasts of Ireland.

If readers want to read more about the differences between the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish Vikings please read the brief history at this link, where I got the painting above of leaders from the diverse Viking tribes at a high level meeting.

But for this post, I am going to add to the ancient lore of the Scandinavian bravery and prowess on the waters...but with a very modern twist.  This is what happened just last weekend here in the Vancouver lower mainland on the waters of Burrard Inlet.

Regular readers will know that we moor our 34' sailboat, "Limerence" at a marina located on Burrard Inlet off the coast of Port Moody.  My husband Len took our son and his girlfriend out for a Labour Day sail last Monday.  They sailed down Indian Arm to just outside Deep Cove on the North shore. The winds were very light, not really good for sailing. In the late afternoon, they turned the boat around and decided to motor back.  After a few moments motoring, the propeller suddenly seized up and although the motor kept going, the engine could not get into gear and the boat would not move.  After trying this and that, Len began to worry that the transmission was broken--a several thousand dollar fix.

They had to sail back to port under virtually non-existent winds.  Tacking back and forth...squeezing every little inch out of the flapping and fluttering sails. My son finally got the "sailing lesson" that had been promised to him for years.  Len sailed to the South Pacific, Australia and back with two buddies in the 1960's and for most of that time, they did not use a motor.  Len had steered their old ferro-cement home-built sailboat, the 'Natural Hy', into Papeete Harbour in Tahiti under sail only.  This was the lore our two boys grew up with--but had never seen in action.  Finally, my son was able to see how precise a sailor Len is...even picking up the crabtrap they had dropped earlier...only taking three tries to get close enough to snare the crabtrap with a hook off the deck.

Indian Arm Off Burrard Inlet showing Deep Cove

They could have called Coast Guard for help.  But no.  Why bother with an excellent Viking sailor on board?  They tacked back and forth, snaking their way down narrow Burrard Inlet and came up to the breakwater of the marina.  How to manage the sharp 180 degree turn necessary to enter the docks?  How indeed...when big cabin cruisers kept motoring by, leaving huge wakes. Those last few inches were the hardest--but eventually they threaded their way with precision into the "Limerence's" tiny mooring slip.

The three of them came home tired and hungry. I feasted them with an elaborate vegetarian dinner [my son and his girlfriend are both vegetarians] and we regaled with the old sailor Len over his feat.  But what about the broken transmission?  This could be financially catastrophic and could mean the end of sailing for many months to come.

Well, Len talked it over with his buddies at the pub the next [Tuesday] evening and one of them...an old Norwegian sailor I will call by his nickname "Doggy" listened carefully.  The next day, Len went down to the boat and checked the transmission fluid.  Surprisingly, it was normal.  He again reported his findings to his friends.  They couldn't do anything the next day, Thursday, because Len HAD to go golfing all day.  They decided to wait for the weekend to investigate further.

The following day, Friday, Len had a big surprise in store for him when he went to the pub.  Doggy was waiting for him with a grocery bag full of wet, thick, broken up yellow rope.  The "ancient" [late 50's] Norwegian mariner had gone down to the marina on Thursday morning with a pair of swim goggles and a box cutter knife.  Doggy stripped down to his underwear, dove under the boat [in very murky water] and discovered, then cut away, a thick rope that was tightly wrapped around the propeller.  He gathered the pieces of rope in a grocery bag to show Len what had stopped the boat.  While underwater beneath the hull, Doggy even took the time to scrape off muscles and barnacles that were attached to it and slowed down the boat.  He did all this without being asked and, indeed, Len was unaware of what Doggy was up to.  Doggy's deed saved Len hundreds of dollars investigating the source of the problem and possibly having to haul the boat out of the water to remove the rope.  Len has tried the motor since and it now works perfectly...more sailing trips ahead!  

This story will no doubt be entered into the local legends of the Port Moody area and is yet more proof of the innate seafaring genius of the Vikings...which has been passed down through their descendants to this present day.  To both Swede Len...and Norwegian Doggy--wherever you are--please raise a glass of your favourite brew and shout skål!

Remnants of Rope Doggy Cut
from Sailboat propeller

1 comment:

Penny said...

Loved the story GC! Thanks for sharing it :)