A Problematic Rescue

February 2, 2020 was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. the temperature was in the upper 60’s, the wind from the southwest at a steady 8 knots—an ideal day to take my Catalina 270, Pneuma, out for the first sail of the year in my home waters of north Alabama.

After a few extra seconds of cranking, the engine came to life and the mainsail cover was taken off while the engine warmed up at around 1,500 rpm. After removing the shore-power cable and mooring lines, I shifted the transmission into reverse, and Pneuma slowly backed out of the slip.

Shifting into forward, Pneuma eased out of the marina, and when the depthsounder showed 10ft of water, I brought the bow into the wind and raised the mainsail. Th at done, it was bear away again and unfurl the genoa. With the engine shut down and the transmission in neutral, Pneuma glided along effortlessly. the sailing was simply perfect. With the radio turned on and classical music flowing from the speakers, Pneuma slipped along with a steady breeze on the starboard quarter.

Soon afterward I went below to take a quick look at the prop shaft spinning silently with the engine off —a source of fascination ever since I’d had the strut

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