I was selected because I am an Eagle Scout and knew my knots, and I was (and am still) an amateur radio operator and anybody who knew Capt Kimberly knew he hated those damn radios, so it fell to me to figure out how to get a signal out of essentially no antenna, although the only time I remember him turning it on was when we were transiting a US Navy exercise area probably near Puerto Rico. I was also a motorcycle mechanic which sentenced me to starting that damn three banger Danish diesel with bottles of compressed air… and once… as we were dead in the water in the shipping lanes heading from Miami to St. T. (having damn near lost our screw shaft as we were trying to repair the clutch) with absolutely NO pressure on the main tanks…( and how THAT happened, you’ll need to talk with Adrian, because he shut her off without closing the main air manifold valve!) with my scuba tank.
It fell to me, when the Mainmast pennant hoist split in two and fell to the deck to mount the new one. The ratlings only went up to where the standing rigging stopped at the foretop, so to get any higher you had to make a jim-jam out of clove hitches to get to the top of the mainmast where the pennant hoist would sit on a square plug of oak.
When I met the Romance at the foot of the SW 2nd street bridge in Miami in September of ’68 (we spent the month getting her ready, dry-docking her and stripping the copper hull sheathing, cleaning and repainting with anti-tornedos paint) I was wearing a coat and tie and brushed up against a piece of nylon line with my face that made me start. In two weeks I’d be hauling on that line, swapping it end for end, with my bare hands.
I eventually graduated when I had read all the Hornblower books and could spot the (very) few technical faults in the descriptions of his maneuvers. I remember so many things, like the time we were cruising up the windward side of St Croix on a sunny afternoon. I was palming in a bolt rope on a new mainsail when all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, Capt Kimberly yells, “Hard a lee!! NOW”. Adrian had the helm and started to come about in what I thought was a reasonable rate seeing as how we were all up knowing we have to catch the sheets. Capt Kimberly was running to the quarterdeck, pushed Adrian out of the way and spun that wheel so fast you couldn’t see the spokes. By that time the Romance had made a 90 degree turn to starboard and the first gust hit us square in the mainsails on a course to deeper water. The next thing we knew was we were running in what we’d call now a sheering downdraft and burying the bow in the swells. Capt Kimberly knew what the wind was going to do before even the Wind knew what it was going to do! Later he told me when you have a few thousand square yards aloft the sailor always watches the water, and the water will tell you where the wind is.
I remember, I remember. When I am on the Ocean I am always with a friend, albeit cranky and dangerous and deserving of the greatest respect.
Christopher C. Allen
Locust Dale, VA
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