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Inevitably, somewhere between his accounts of being plucked unconscious from a rubber raft in the mid-Atlantic by Portuguese sailors and using the mast of Sea Dart as a fishing pole to winch in the makings for shark sushi, some skeptics might wonder, despite the documentary evidence, if some of the episodes were perhaps, maybe.... "Yes, I know," Jones interjects, "a little exaggerated, dreams in the night. The simple reply to that is that one does not publish dreams under the scrutiny of the Royal Geographic Society, the world's foremost authority on exploration."
Jones's books carry the imprimatur of not only the RGS, but also the Explorers Club. The latter showed its esteem by honoring Jones and his date at the club's annual dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1977. His date was Sea Dart, which arrived at the grand ballroom atop a freight elevator and, after the tuxedoed guests supped on loin of lion and llama hump, shared the stage with astronaut James Lovell as one of the evening's featured attractions. Her exit was no less grand. Lowered onto a float, Sea Dart was towed by mules through the streets of New York City and placed on exhibit for a few weeks at the South Street Seaport Museum.
True to his word, Jones finished the seven books between brief recuperative cruises in the Baltic, the West Indies and among the Greek Islands. Subsequently, he says, once "the fates had decided, in the form of a leg amputation, that it was time for me to set off again, back to the ocean, which gave me life in the first place," the extraordinary series of events in San Diego last summer "did not at all take me by surprise." Indeed, he says, given the intensity of his premonitions, "it was somewhat like following a film scenario."
Eager to see the drama unfold, Jones moved to San Diego in early July and, as authoritatively as Captain Bligh reassuming the quarterdeck, he ordered that the boat be rechristened, aptly enough, Outward Leg, and a triskelion—an ancient emblem of three pinwheeling legs that connotes energy, motion and victory—be emblazoned on the mainsail and amas. "That was the coat of arms of Manannán," he explains, "a legendary one-legged Celtic warrior-king who rode the white horses of the wind across the Irish Sea. His motto—mine now, as well—was 'Whichever way you turn me, I will stand.' "
A believer in the "power of colors," Jones also decreed that the hulls be painted pale green and turquoise, the "two shades that are easiest on the eyes and nerves," he says. "Never paint a hull red; it upsets whales." As for his insistence on tanbark sails, he says, "the dark-brown hue reduces glare and, surprisingly enough, is more visible at night."
Time was short. To take advantage of favorable weather conditions on the first leg of his around-the-world voyage, which by now has taken him through the Panama Canal and into the Caribbean Sea, Jones decided that Outward Leg must depart San Diego no later than mid-October. "Normally," Surtees explains, "it takes anywhere from 18 months to two years to outfit a boat for circumnavigation. To do it in 3½ months is a world record in itself."
Nonetheless, toiling 18 hours a day, Jones, Surtees, Smith, who took a leave of absence from his job to devote himself full-time to the project, and a growing work force of volunteers set about modifying Outward Leg. "One reason you can't sell a sailboat to an amputee is because they learn to overcome problems by avoiding them," Jones says. "Conversely, we've solved them by confronting them. For instance, if you can't reach the winches because the cockpit's too big, then you make the cockpit smaller and bring the winches to you. If you can't get under the walkway between the aft and forward cabin, then raise it so you can walk through."
In addition, the workers installed outsize handgrips and toeholds at key points, and ingenious systems for hauling the anchor and launching the dinghy from the comfort of the cockpit. Of one other innovation, an anticapsize device dubbed "cool tubes" that was conceived by Jones and installed by Surtees, the pair would initially say little until patent formalities were cleared up. Basically their "secret weapon" consists of a copper-lined pipe molded onto the main keel (see illustration, page 89), which, when the boat heels 20 degrees or more, captures enough seawater to exert two tons of downward thrust.
All too aware that traditional sailors scorn trimarans as "monohulls with training wheels," Jones contends that the cool tubes, so called because of their shape and "the cool feeling they give me just knowing they're there," have overcome the biggest bugaboo of multihull vessels—capsizing in heavy weather. Moreover, by "reducing the capsize probability of Outward Leg to that of a monohull of the same length in the same weather conditions," Jones feels that he has the safest sailing craft afloat. "After all," he says, "if a monohull capsizes, it can sink. If a multihull capsizes, well, you're left with a quite dry, comfortable, amenable, weatherproof and very expensive life raft."
Nonetheless, many of the yachtsmen who visited Outward Leg to wish Jones a safe journey asked the same question: Why a trimaran? And invariably, Jones would pat his peg leg and say, "Because they, like me, suffer from a severe lack of heel."