Duffers on the Deep

by Winifred Brown

A cruising classic. A novice skipper and crew take a small boat from North Wales to Norway and Spitsbergen just before the Second World War. Honest about their inexperience, Winifred Brown's narrative is a well-told tale.

ISBN 978-0-9575549-3-1

The Gale…

I sat miserably at the wheel trying to heave-to and keep Perula as steady and dry as possible as Adams struggled with the sail alone. He was soaked to the skin and blue with cold. One minute I’d see him working for’ard, then a wave would come and blot everything out. Sometimes I shut my eyes not daring to look at a deck I felt certain would be empty. But there he was, his arms tightly wound round the mast. The suspense was awful; I felt helpless and useless. "Oh, hell!" I groaned. "Why am I a blasted woman?" I think I drank about a quarter of a bottle of neat rum while he was out there.

We went on; the weather got worse and worse. Even if Perula could go on, her crew could not; we were both completely exhausted and sat in miserable silence. At first I tried to make bright conversation; it sounded inane. As wave after wave crashed on the wheelhouse I began to wonder what we should do if it carried away, how we should block up the hole. Then I realised that if the wheelhouse went we should probably go with it. "It is finish," I thought. "It can’t hold much longer."

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