Friday, March 27, 2009


The Laser daggerboard has a black (sometimes blue) plastic stop that prevents the daggerboard from sliding right down through the daggerboard trunk into the oceanic depths. Actually if you have a shockcord running from the front of the board to some fixed point on the boat to help hold the daggerboard up, this will also prevent aforementioned disastrous loss of daggerboard.

The chartered Laser that I used in Florida a couple of weeks ago did not have the black plastic stop on the daggerboard. It must have broken and fallen off. It happens. This left a nice clean hole with sharp edges through the daggerboard where the stop used to be.

On the second day of the clinic, just before the start of the last practice race, I pushed the daggerboard down prior to starting my approach to the start line. Unfortunately the tip of the forefinger of my left hand slipped into that nice clean hole with sharp edges in the daggerboard just before I pushed the heavy daggerboard down into the trunk. Even more unfortunately my finger (with the tip still inside that nice clean hole with sharp edges) disappeared into the tiny gap between the daggerboard and the trunk as the board slid down into the trunk further than it would have done if the black plastic stop had been in place.


I stared at the impossible sight of my fat juicy finger in that tiny gap. I thought, "Now that was a stupid thing to do." My finger hurt. A lot.

I pulled up the daggerboard not knowing what I would see. Was the end of my finger still attached to the rest of me? I remembered some story I heard some years ago about a kid chopping off his finger on a Sunfish when they redesigned the daggerboard with a nice convenient hole for a handle.

I pulled up the daggerboard. There was a lot of blood. Deep red blood. My finger hurt a lot.

I looked at my finger. The end was still attached to the rest of me, but the whole of the fleshy part of the finger pad was ripped off and only slightly connected to the rest of me. I pressed the wound closed and thought, "Now that was a stupid thing to do." (Chopping my finger, not closing the wound.)

I waited until the coach had started the race and then hailed and waved for him to come over to me. There was a lot of blood dripping all over the deck. I asked the coach if he had a first aid kit on his boat. He did. He patched up the end of my finger with some antiseptic cream and a dressing and wrapped it all up with black vinyl tape. This was strangely nostalgic and reassuring as my late father used to use black electrical tape to wrap up his wounds. (He was an electrician so I guess that black tape was always handy.)

I sailed slowly back to the beach. Blood was oozing out of the black tape all over the deck. One of my fellow sailors took my boat and said he would de-rig it and put it away for me. I felt guilty that he had to hose all that blood off my deck.

I phoned my wife. "Ummm, don't panic but I've had a bit of an accident." She rushed over from the hotel. The coach gave us directions on how to find the local hospital. I felt a bit woozy. I thought, "Now that was a stupid thing to do." (Chopping the finger, not feeling woozy.)

Morals of this story...
  • If you sail a Laser with the daggerboard stop missing, don't ever put your finger into that nice clean hole with sharp edges.

  • Even better, if you sail a Laser with the daggerboard stop missing, block up that nice clean hole with sharp edges so you won't accidentally put your finger in the hole.

  • Don't do stupid things.


The O'Sheas said...

My finger hurts just reading this ... love the new Braille option in Firefox.

9 fingers said...

Thanks god for Greg Andkris. This post went so long without comments that I thought nobody cared about my finger.

Pat said...

Ouch, ouch, ouch ... This is awkward. My most similar injury was a slice out of a thumb when it caught a sliver of aluminum when I was drilling pop rivets out of a mast bracket.

Carol Anne said...

Made me cringe ... I have trouble just dealing with a paper cut.

O Docker said...

It's sad seeing an old blogger fishing for comments, but posts like this are really why I read your blog.

Not that I like seeing you doing stupid things or bleeding. I'm twisted, but not that twisted.

It's for the little parables - the simple lessons about life that are all around us - in the simplest things we do.

You capture the simple pleasures, the simple truths, the simple moments of clarity.

You are one of the most simple-minded people I know.

Ken Douglas said...

Well - that wasn't very clever was it??

I lost the stop off mine a year or so back - but have avoided the finger thing.

However I have not avoided a few comments about unfair advantage!

With the stopper not there it is easy to push the board lower (so it is deeper in the water). Some at the club feels this gives me an advantge to windward in some conditions!!

True or false??

Tillerman said...

Ken, I am pretty sure that racing a Laser without the centerboard stop would be illegal under the class rules, and putting more board in the water when beating would probably give you an unfair advantage. Shame on you! :-)

Carol Anne said...

Obviously, if the stop is missing, you're SUPPOSED to put your finger in the hole to keep the board from slipping down and violating class rules.

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