20 MAY 1922, Page 17


IN The Track of the Typhoon" Mr. W. W. Nutting has given us a first-rate narrative of adventure. He and his friends, all Americans, designed a forty-five foot ketch yacht after their own fancy and sailed her across the Atlantic to England and afterwards home again by a longer route. Mr. Nutting, with an admirable touch, dedicates his book to his colleagues, " all of whom have a serious belief in the importance of doing things for fun." But even the habit of " doing things for fun " permits, appropriately if illogically, of a definite object. Mr. Nutting's definite object was to reach England in time for Cowes Regatta. There was some delay in launching and fitting out ' Typhoon '- what yachtsman does not know that delay I—and when she started there seemed little hope of reaching Cowes in time. As a matter of fact, however, thanks to strong favouring winds, Cowes was reached with two days to spare.

Mr. Nutting need not be afraid that he has given us too much technical detail, though he apologizes for what there is. We fancy there is some misunderstanding on this subject. Publishers try to intimidate yachting authors into dispensing with technical details in order that the book may be suitable for a wide public. The authors, as often as not, try to fall in with this stipulation, and sometimes we get books that are not good enough on their literary merits to satisfy the wide public aimed at and yet are insufficiently informing on the all-important questions of yacht management to satisfy the enthusiasts who are longing to learn. Mr. Nutting, we must say, has made a very good compromise, though we should have liked even more of the technical infor- mation for which he apologizes. Really we believe that most people who read ysr•hting books at all want the kind of details that will enable them to imitate, at least in their day-dreams, the adventures described.

Mr. Nutting is very sound in writing about the comparative safety of small vessels which are really well found. To the layman it seems to be a perennial source of surprise that in bad weather in which great ships have foundered small yachts handled by amateurs who have taught themselves a smattering of navigation have often come through without a scratch. The explanation is simple if one comes to think of it. The great ships are frequently heavily laden and may labour terribly. Owing to their length they may straddle two seas at once and receive dreadful hogging and sagging strains. Through their weight they offer great resistance to the seas, and sometimes look like partially submerged rocks in breaking water. The small boat has extreme buoyancy ; it rides along like a cork in a cataract ; it may snuggle in the curve of a wave. The properly buoyant small yacht can survive almost any weather provided that she rides to the seas and has plenty of sea room for drifting. At the end of his narrative Mr. Nutting describes how, when he was left without his sea-anchor through the rope parting in a gale, he allowed ' Typhoon' " to look after herself." He founds on this a doctrine that instead of

• (1) The Track of the ' Typhoon! By William Washburn Nutting. New York : The Motor Boat Publishing Co. [2 dots. net.)—(2) The Royal Cruising 010 Journal. London : Printed for the Royal Cruising Club by C. F. Row•ortk.

troubling even to heave-to there may be something to be said for allowing a yacht to come through the crisis in her own way without any sail on her. He remarks that dories have been picked up at sea in such a condition that they had evidently been adrift for months and yet showed no evidence of having taken water on board. It may well give the amateur navigator confidence to think that such a thing is possible, but the present writer would much prefer to pin his faith to a sea-anchor if he had sea room, and if that failed him he would try to keep the yacht hove-to in the usual way under a very small amount of sail.

The ' Typhoon,' a forty-five footer, was built with a very broad stern and a fine bow. Probably her stern was a little too broad, but the crew found that she generally behaved extremely well in high following seas. Occasionally, when there was danger

of her broaching-to, they towed ropes over the stern which checked her way sufficiently to prevent her from having her stern thrown up and round by a breaking sea. Professional yacht skippers will often tell you that the way of safety in a following sea is to keep ahead of the seas by holding on with as much sail as possible. Probably they do not really express their meaning, because this would be the very way to help the vessel to broach-to. You cannot " keep ahead of the seas " ; what you can do is to check the way of the vessel— at least, if the yacht be small enough—by means of a drogue or bucket towed astern that can be " capsized " when the check is no longer needed. Thus an ugly sea approaching from behind will break not behind the vessel, but just in front of it.

Mr. Nutting praises his ketch rig. A cutter and a yawl are more powerful—especially a cutter—for in a ketch the sail area

is considerably split up, but we agree with Mr. Nutting that for handiness in setting the sails, and therefore in the saving of

labour, a ketch is incomparable. You can set the mainsail without the mivvri or the mien without the mainsail. There is seldom any reefing to do. The present writer is surprised at the frequency with which Mr. Nutting sailed under mizzen and headsail without using his mainsail at all. Most owners of ketch yachts would prefer to sail under a reefed mainsail when there was too much wind for a full mainsail. He seems to have been satisfied with his single headsail. This must be a matter of taste and experience. Most yachtsmen would certainly prefer two headsails.

Much the worst crisis of the cruise was when the ' Typhoon '

actually did broach-to :-

" At three o'clock Charles took the wheel and the rest of us went below. Jim and Dillaway were in the starboard berths, I was resting on the lee transom and Fox was on the companion steps. No sooner had he drawn the companion slide than there was a tremendous crash which gave us the impression that we had been run down. I remember most distinctly that Jim, who had removed all his wet clothing and was absolutely naked, dropped with a mass of books, boxes and other gear from a point directly above me, missed the table entirely and fell on top of me, presenting a most grotesque spectacle. Then for the moment everything was blotted out by hot, dense steam caused by solid water coming down the Liverpool head and into the Shipmate range. As the steam cleared, I remembered feeling greatly surprised that the weather side of the cabin and even the port lights were still intact after the shock. But otherwise the cabin seemed a total wreck. The oily bilge water had actually come over the deck clamp and down on to the transom where I lay and everything movable was a jumbled mass on the lee side. Fortunately the boards had been placed in the companion- way, as they always were in rough weather, and we were com- pletely battened down except for the two swing ports in the after end of the trunk, through which considerable water had poured. Our first thought was of Charles. We jumped to the after ports to see whether he was still with us and there he was, clinging to the wheel, up to his waist in the water that had filled the cockpit and was still almost to the level of the coamings. Dazed by his experience and in the midst of a floating mass of water- breakers, ropes and the pathetic remains of our spoiled salt horse, he made a ridiculous spectacle. But he was still there, which was cause for general rejoicing. It seemed that ' Typhoon' had been allowed to broach-to and had been knocked flat on her beam ends with both mastheads in the water, and although the experience was by no means a comfortable one, it was worth while in that it proved that she would come back. In the rush of building the ship I had suggested to Baldwin that to avoid the delay of having an iron keel cast and shipped to Baddeck, it might be advisable to put all of the ballast inside as the fishermen do, but Baldwin, good old sailor man that he is, insisted on putting a three thousand pound lead shoe on the keel and this, while it is really lighter than she needs, was sufficient to right, the ship. She had come back slowly but she had come back."

In the same gale one of the crew was washed overboard.

Once again the yacht was laid over with her masts on the water. Gradually she righted herself and Mr. Nutting continues :—

" We were under bare poles, and as we drifted down past Dorsett he succeeded in catching one of the lines. But our headway was still too great. Every time he came to the surface he was farther from the ship. I could see that the line he had was not the one with the bucket, and with every second I felt that he must reach the end of it. Finally, turning on his back with the line over his shoulder, he was able to hold fast, sort of planing along with his head out of water, but we could see that he was tiring. If he slipped again one of us would have to go down the line after him, but only as a last resort, for we should all be needed to get him aboard. Gradually, and with the utmost care, so as not to break his hold, we hauled in on the line, and as we drew him olose under the counter he looked up with a half-choked grin and said, ' Well, Skipper, here I am.' I think it was the most beautiful display of downright courage that I have ever seen and it would have brought the tears had we had time for any such emotion. And then we found that the com- bined strength of the three of us was inadequate to the task of lifting him aboard. Clutching his oilskins, we held on, lifting him far out of the water as the stern rose, only to souse him again with every passing sea. We were choking him, but we dared not loosen our hold. I got the boathook, caught his oilies with the barb and finally succeeded in prying a leg over the gunwale. Grabbing it with both arms I lay exhausted in the waterway, determined that at least we'd have that leg. The work of the last few hours and the effect of a recent diet, com- posed largely of fried flour paste, had weakened us, but we got him aboard at last and passed him down to Dillaway, who was still trapped in the cabin."

Mr. Nutting pays a tribute to the Royal Cruising Club, of whose records and organization he saw something when he was in England, and he wishes that America might have a similar club. Why should he not found the future Cruising Club of America. himself ? By a coincidence, we have before us the latest Journal of the Royal Cruising Club.' The Club Challenge Cup was awarded last year to Mr. G. H. P. Muhlhauser, who, in his yacht ' Amaryllis,' a 36-ton yawl, sailed, with the help of three friends, to Barbadoes ; then across the Pacific, avid the Panama Canal, to Sydney. It was a great cruise, marked by fine seamanship and admirable persistence. The journal also records the amazing experience of the Rev. George Gordon, who while cruising, was washed overboard in the Bay of Biscay. His friends, quite unable to find him, sailed away. Fortunately, a seat had been washed overboard with him and he sat on this for five and a-half hours, using his oilskins as a sail. When a passing steamer came near enough he violently blew a police whistle which he happened to have in his pocket. He was seen and picked up. All this was out of sight of land.