DAY OF THE SCARAB
There are numerous scarabs. Some are
a kind of beetle, others, speed boats.
The Scarab we discovered was about 35`
in length, probably had a couple of 450 H.P.
engines and was designed for the purpose
of racing in the ocean.
My son, Sean and I sailed a little 27` Catalina
sailboat. We had been anchored off Angel
Island in the San Francisco Bay. We had
run our little dinghy to the beach and spent
most of the day hiking and site seeing on
In mid-afternoon storm clouds started rolling
in over the Golden Gate bridge. It looked
ominous, so we decided to get out of the bay
Back on Xena, while Sean cranked up the
anchor and I raised the main and a jib, the storm
moved in. We just barely cleared the tip of
the island when it hit.
Winds of somewhere around 40 knots, swells
rolling in from the Gate, pushing white caps
We were having trouble driving against the
storm. We reefed the main and put up a storm
jib and still the storm blew us progressively
toward the city of Berkeley, the wrong direction.
I forgot to mention---- when we pulled anchor
we discovered that our engine was dead, so this
was all under sail.
Sure, I`m bragging, who would`nt ? We figured
staying alive that afternoon was a full time job.
The waves were piling up and the gale winds
were blowing our little boat off the top of the
waves. Then, on the crest of a wave, a gale
pulsed . As we dropped into the trough we
nearly crashed into this Scarab. A scarab, near
Berkeley, engines dead, wallowing, big waves
breaking over her.
The Scarab`s captain yelled for help as we fought
to keep from crashing into her.
We circled back into the wind in an effort to
avoid contact which would have smashed us to
pieces. Sean tried to throw them a line, but it
About five or six people on the decks of the
scarab, all waving and yelling. Engines dead, they
were certain to go down, probably in minutes.
Two more circles, dangerous jibes, wet to the
skin, they finally caught our line. Sean tweaked
the line until they had it cleated down , we drew
out the slack and had them in tow.
All the time we were yelling over the wind, just
to be heard, now the little Catalina got her
teeth into the wind and the Scarab started to
move behind us.
Sean and I tied down the tiller, working like a
couple of beavers, we managed to get up a
larger jib , pulled the reefs out of the main and
fought the storm for nearly four hours.
Near the mouth of the Alameda estuary we saw
the entrance to the Pacific Marina on our right
and headed for the entrance to the marina.
Sailing a huge circle inside the marina, as the
scarab closed on a wharf one of them threw off
the line and we headed for home.
In this great a blow we were still faced with the
job of landing in our Alameda Marina, but we
discussed it in detail , then Sailing within feet
of Government Island, home of the Coast Guard
base we turned into the wind, winched down the
jib, flattened the main.
As we closed on the Alameda Marina entrance
we were flying. Dropped the sails and she slipped
quietly through crowded boats of the marina to
slowly glide into our berth .
We had never seen an ocean going scarab before.
We fully expected the owner/ operator to get in
touch with us. I would have walked miles to thank
someone who had just saved my life.
Guess a stink-pot (power-boat) operator was just
too embarrassed at being towed to port by a
poor little sail boat. I can see his point.
---- Eagle Cruagh