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It was a long day...
Then longer months...

I met the VIGILANT on a harried Sunday in late June, 1982. At eight A.M. I was on the road to Tiburon to safety inspect the 67-foot racing sailboat MERLIN for the Balena Bay Yacht Club's San Francisco-Kauai Trans-Pac race. At eleven, someone yells down to the docks behind a row of houses, "Who has a blue 240Z? It's been smashed." Mine, of course ... the neighbor kid has backed his dad's Lincoln Continental out the driveway, across the street, then six inches into my passenger side. By mid afternoon I was across the Bay at Alameda, shaking hands with the VIGILANT's owner, and wondering if I looked as wiped out as I already felt.

Fleeting first impression: this is a big boat for 49-feet. High freeboard, high flybridge. Massive. The owner had a firm handshake.

We went straight-away to a late lunch to discuss plans- then I went home for my tools as I was to begin work the next day. Tomorrow I could go over the VIGILANT with a fine toothed comb.

Monday morning early I went aboard for serious looking; two things got to me immediately.

With tanks pressed up the day before (about a thousand gallons of diesel fuel and five hundred of water) and ostensibly in "cruise-ready" configuration, she was listing heavily to port and trimmed so far down at the bow that the bottom paint was buried about ten inches to a foot. On the boat deck workmen had to hang on to such things as drill bits, pencils, and screws lest of their own accord these round items might follow the laws of Newtonian physics and disappear over the edge.

Then I went up to the flybridge. At the top of the short three-step ladder I was startled by the radar antenna which hit me on the head. Not only mounted so that the 24 rpm swing passed through this passageway, but also mounted so that from the wheel looking aft, average height retinas were treated to three kilowatts of microwave.

Just as discussion began on the boat deck with the dealer regarding placement of the radar antenna (more on this later), there was a loud crashing from below. I ran down through the pilot house to find the owner's sister-in-law prone and bleeding in the bilge. She had fallen through open engine hatches in the salon floor into the "stand-up headroom" engine bay alongside the generator. Workers had removed the hatches to service the engines and she with shopping bags and looking straight. ahead had effectively fallen into a Malay mancatcher. Shock, bruises, seven stitches, and a tough constitution. The ambulance took her away.

The radar. I was told at first that when the radar is on, no one, of course, would be driving the boat from the flybridge. I didn't buy this story. O.K., so if I wanted it moved, the only place was to the flybridge fairing ahead of the wheel. Again I didn't buy it, wondering if three kilowatts at belt height was better or worse than at eye height. Move it up the mast where it belongs, I stood firm, puzzled that I should be arguing the obvious.