Good Old Boat--Still sailing after all these years
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The Folkboat
Little beauty with a big heart
by John Vigor

Subject: The loss of Jester
Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2000 20:18:32 -0800
From: Russ Ashworth

In John Vigor's article in Good Old Boat he says:-

"Yet the physical exploits of her devotees give us valuable insights into her abilities when the sole arbiter is the sea itself. Blondie Hasler's wooden Jester is both a good and a bad example of this. Good, because she crossed the Atlantic 14 times. Bad, because she was eventually lost at sea without trace. But she was very old and she had suffered more punishment than a dozen normal boats."

This would suggest that she had fallen to pieces or some other unseaworthy mishap. This is not true. Her owner knew exactly what happened as he was in the unfortunate position of having to watch it happen.

I would like to quote from Wooden Boat No 113 of July/ August 1993. In an article by Sheila McCurdy about Jester there is a quote from 71 year old Micheal Richey in his logbook. In it he wrote just before the knock-down, "Some of the breakers quite frighten me. They come at you hissing, generally just across the wave train, and carry you along for a while, generally on your beam ends."

Sheila continues :-
He was 470 miles from Halifax when the seas ripped off one of the hatches and the boat filled with water. Richey set off his EPIRB but was unhurt and managed to bail out most of the water. A U.S.Coast Guard plane and then a merchant ship responded. During the interim, he debated his course of action. The boat was intact, though vulnerable. The weather forcast was bad. He was exhausted and shaken. On the advice of the CG, he transfered to the ship and an attempt was made to tow Jester but it was unsuccesful, (My comment: due mainly to the fact that Jester's maximum speed was way under the speed that the freighter was travelling at and Jester was being towed through the waves and rapidly turning into a submarine.) The decision was made to cut her loose and dropped astern and was lost from sight. End of quote.

No doubt with nobody on board and a missing side hatch the next big wave that rolled her would also fill and sink her. As you can see she was not "lost without trace"

I have another article somewhere were Mike Richey says that he had been cold and wet for about 3 days but things were beginning to dry out and improve. Then he saw the EPIRB (a race requirement and the first time he had carried one) and in a moment of "depression" pulled the pin. After that things were out of his hands and the CG took over. He still regrets leaving Jester to her fate and if the EPIRB hadn't been on board he would probably have sailed her to the finish.

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