Avoiding the boom

January/February 2007

To the editor: I have often told friends that I don’t refer to the booms by their proper name, but call them “clunkers” – the thing that goes clunk when you hit it with your head. When sailing on a beat on my Fuji 32 ketch, Valhalla, the main boom sits just four feet above the companionway sill on the bridge deck. When going below or coming up on deck, especially if wearing a baseball cap, it’s easy to make painful and unexpected contact with the clunker since the bill of the cap hides the offending object while you are busy looking for a safe handhold.

My solution is the “no clunkers:” one is the bitter end of the main boom topping lift, which I leave dangling, and the other is a bit of red shock cord dangling as well, but which can be snapped around the topping lift so it is clear and out of the way when not needed. These give warning at eye level and a reminder to duck your head before proceeding. Maybe I should call them “Excedrins?”

– Terry Sargent is a retired U.S. Army officer and live-aboard, who voyages in the Pacific aboard his ketch Valhalla. He is currently in Phuket, Thailand.  

By Ocean Navigator