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Old 02-08-2019, 12:01 PM   #1
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Remember that time......

If you have been a mariner/boater/skipper for a long time you certainly have a memory of a time when you pushed your luck and it almost cost you your life. You survived, but only because you kept your wits about you, knew what to do, and survived. So, here's your chance to relate "that one time" to the rest of us.

For me, it was a time in the 60's when I was about 13 or 14 years old. We had a cottage on Lake Huron and I spent my summers on my Alcort Sailfish. That boat and I were like a part of each other I was so familiar with how it handled.

I was out one day with my girlfriend just cruising along with a moderate wind of about 10-15kts. Perfect for a Sailfish. We were about 1/2 mile or so offshore when all of a sudden the wind just died.

I had been around water and sailed enough to know that was not a good sign. As I looked over my shoulder to the north I could see the reason the wind died. There was a storm front that stretched all across the horizon. It was still a ways off but I figured we had zero chance of getting to shore.

The winds didn't frighten me as I'd sailed in some pretty stout winds. What scared the bejesus out of me was the lightening.

I dropped the mast and lashed the mast, spar and boom to the hull using the mainsheet. Then we flipped the boat over so the metal parts would be beneath the boat. We tied ourselves off using another line and, wearing only our ski belts (remember those?) we floated about 25' away from the boat. We held onto each other for about 30 minutes in hellatious winds with 3'-4' seas and whitecaps until the storm blew over.

Afterwards we hoisted the sails and sailed back to shore. Boy did we ever catch hell for being out there in that storm. It had blown down some trees, blew the covers off some boat lifts and just made a mess of things.

No amount of explaining how "safe" we made ourselves would pacify our parents, but I knew in my heart that what I'd done had made us safer.

Next?
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:31 PM   #2
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Not exactly what you're looking for but this is what came to mind: When I was in high school I lived in Chester, Connecticut. Had a Blue Jay open cockpit sailboat, 13'-6" LOA. I would launch that boat from Chester into the Connecticut River and sail it to Sag Harbor across LI Sound. I can't even remember if I had a lifejacket with me. I must have, but I don't remember one. No lights. No radio. No motor. No cell phone, they weren't common yet. Never got stopped once by any water cops, come to think of it. Huh. If I hit shallow water the rudder often came up and the rudder pins popped out of their brackets and I'd have to hang over the transom to put it back in as the boat pitched and the sails slapped and banged around. I loved thunderstorms too because they finally gave me enough wind to really fly and I'd slide my bare feet under the nylon strap along the keel and hike out as far as I possibly could. I remember the feeling of the spray hitting the back of my neck and if I had everything tuned just right, like a tuned piano, the grayish green water of Long Island Sound would just dribble over the leeward rail into the boat. Now that was exhilaration. On the other hand when I think of the barge, motor, ferry, and other traffic, and the current on the River, and the possibility of getting swept out past Montauk and maybe a chunk of my boat would wash up on a beach in Ireland months later -- God certainly protected me on those glorious Saturday sails.
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:44 PM   #3
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See “boat handling following seas” from 2016 post 16.
Boat handling in following seas
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Old 02-08-2019, 04:40 PM   #4
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I go crabbing in my 19-foot Grumman canoe, which is powered by a 2.5hp outboard. Alone, it's fine, especially at slack tide. But when the tide goes (in Netarts Bay, OR), it could get rather challenging navigating the canoe and pulling up crab pots at the same time. But I'm used to it.

One winter two years ago, my big brother wanted to join me. I said sure, he can pull up the pots and I would man the outboard. But one thing I stressed to him was that when we approach a pot line, and he fails to grab it, DO NOT reach, for it will flip us over. That day, it was so cold that there were snow flurries. We pulled up a few pots; almost reaching our limit, and when we came upon one of the pot lines, he attempted to grab it and missed, then lunged at it, and we went in the cold drink.

Nobody else went crabbing that day in Netarts Bay. One safety measure I failed to do was attach the outboard kill cord to my wrist. So when we flipped and went in the water, the canoe continued to go straight, and out of our reach. We were about 40 yards from the rocky shore. Because of the cold, we were in heavy garb; but we wore our life preservers, thank goodness. I'm sort of athletic, and quite a swimmer. My brother, not so much; he smokes, overweight, and a big guy. Of course, I was scared, and cold, and when I looked at my brother, his face said, "Nice knowing you, bro." I don't know what took over, but I said calmly, "Hey bro, I'll get the boat later. Let's start swimming. The rocks are right there." They weren't. Swimming 10 yards in freezing salt water felt like running a mile. I kept on urging him on, laughing sometimes just to keep him optimistic that we were going to live. He was struggling, and I remained at his side. But we made it to the rocks, and were exhausted. Now we were wet, cold and standing on a lonely road.

My other brother was in the warm confines of his motor home down the road. When we finally made it there, he said, "I saw another canoe out there, but thought the guy was laying down in it 'cuz I didn't see him." Thanks, bro. Well, I got rid of the canoe and looking for a nice crabber that I can bring all my brothers on. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't attach the kill cord. Have you ever tried to get into a canoe while in the water? We probably would've tried until exhausted and hung onto it until hypothermia set in.

And just so you know, the local fire folks showed up with their jet ski and retrieved the canoe. Needless to say, it was an eventful day that ended with a crab feed.
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Old 02-08-2019, 05:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by High Wire View Post
See “boat handling following seas” from 2016 post 16.
Boat handling in following seas

I would like to have seen it. But.....


Video unavailable
"SHIP HANDLING i..." is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:10 PM   #6
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Thanks for sharing!!! Words of wisdom...
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:27 PM   #7
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I did some really dumb stuff when younger, but that is part of the deal. Too much testosterone, and not enough common sense.
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Old 02-08-2019, 11:17 PM   #8
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My wife doesn't want to remember, but I'll add a story....
Took our new to us sailboat out for an afternoon swim in Lake Erie. I wanted to swim, so I jumped in figuring I'd stay close. Well the wind picked up and with no anchor down and no life jacket, I realized I could not keep up with the drifting boat. I had never shown her how to start the engine, and I wasn't wise enough to think about having her drop an anchor (or wear a life vest). So I decided to float while the waves picked up and she was freaking out drifting away! Since I'm typing this story you know I survived, luckily owed to some alert fishermen who could hear her yelling and frantically moving about. They had to cut their anchor line as they knew something was up, which I gladly replaced the next day.
This story still comes up with new people we bring out for a day trip and swim. Some boat rules we (now) have were made for a reason...
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Old 02-09-2019, 01:27 AM   #9
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Years ago, learnt to sail(kind of),bought a little Santana22 sailboat. A mate and I took it up to Broken Bay, a fast spinnaker run going north, a great weekend, and began to head home. No radio, no weather forecasts,weather looked nice. As we exited Broken Bay for the 20 mile coastal Pacific Ocean transit home, BANG! A big southerly "buster" hit, a low pressure system that sweeps up the coast after hot weather. We`re on our ear, gunnels underwater, green water both sides of the sheet winches. Spilling wind by easing sheets on both headsail and main to keep the spreaders out of the water. Not good at all. Forced to run off to the north, we find a kind of lee behind Lion Island which sits offshore slightly N of the entrance to Broken Bay, and regroup. We need to get back into Broken Bay. That means heading back into the teeth of what is effectively a southerly gale. We know what we`re in for, we regroup and get moving. The worst that can happen, we think ,is ending up on the rocks. Immediately everything on the lee side is under green water again, boat and crew are hanging in there, easing the sails to keep the boat on its feet, even luffing a little to reduce pressure,while trying to avoid too much leeway. We tack multiple times into the southerly, slowly clawing our way back. Eventually we find the protective lee of Barrenjoey Head, the wind eases, the boat starts to sit up,we`ve broken nothing, we`re ok,a huge relief as we look for somewhere to moor the boat to leave it there and phone home for a lift back.
Lessons learned? I`ve been pretty sensitive to weather ever since. But it sure proved the little Santana22 is a rugged boat that can take a heap of punishment without breaking. We had a lot of faith in the boat after that experience.
Odd how it stays with you, all these years later. But it does, all too clearly.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:28 AM   #10
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Mine was in 2007, not that long ago it turns out.

We did a late June-Early July trip in the San Juans on Great Escape, our 30' Reinell we had at the time. We were out for 10 days or so, the Admiral and I, our two daughters and son, and our two neices. The kids were all between 12 and 7 years old. We also had the dog and the cat. (7 people, a shepard-husky mix, and a cat. On a 30 ft boat for 10 days. THAT's not my story though!)

We'd had good weather for the whole trip, hot and calm. I failed to check the marine forecast in the morning before we headed home our last stop (we were in Deer Harbor the night of the 3rd for the fireworks.) The currents were mostly unremarkable to me.

As we headed east across Rosario Strait I noticed how dirty and brown the water looked in the distance, but for some reason it didn't quite click. As we continued, it started to get a little rough with the chop/swells coming from the southeast, so I turned partly in that direction. Those familiar with the northern Puget Sound know how localized the winds can be, so of course you can tell what is next. The wind forecast was for high winds in the southern part of the islands from the south. And the tide was ebbing (Rosario Strait ebb current is to the south.) So we were crossing right at the worst time. Each minute we continued, the waves got steeper, closer together, and their period shrunk. By the time I realized it was only going to get worse and not better, I was afraid to try to turn around and risk getting knocked down. So we slugged through, throttling up and down virtually every wave to maintain steerage and avoid burying the bow, all the way across. We were probably in the worst of it for 45 minutes or an hour. The angle I had to steer put us well south of where we were headed, we were almost to the pass between Allen and Burrows Islands before we had enough lee and were out of the current enough we could get back on course.

Its too hard to guess how high the waves in that rip were. They were by far the biggest I've been in, and even seen in that area. We have spent time getting through sloppy weather that has 3-4 swells with smallish white caps, and the rip that day in July 2007 was WAY bigger than what I consider sloppy.

Scared the crap out of me. That boat had BIG windows, and not much height on the bow to keep green water away in weather. (Notice the new boat has the biggest bow I could find on TT ) I had generally been good about checking weather, tides, currents, etc and planning our transits based on the best combinations of the three. But that day, the planning was more about activities in Deer Harbor + how long to motor back, and it was go home day.
Since that day, never do I move without having considered current, wind, and local conditions, and have alternate routes and a plan for weather delay.

With the advent of internet resources like Windy, and local knowledge from people on forums like this, it is a lot easier to avoid those situations. But I literally had everything dear to me out in a situation that was quite dangerous and should have been avoided. And the marine forecast on the VHF for the Northern Inland waters specifically spelled out the wind speeds expected in the southern San Juans...
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Old 02-09-2019, 07:45 AM   #11
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See “boat handling following seas” from 2016 post 16.
Boat handling in following seas
I just tried to look at the video. Said no long available and mentioned something about the copyright.
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Old 02-09-2019, 08:30 AM   #12
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Maybe we're doing something wrong, or we've been on boats too long. I was debating between the hurricane stories, the time we lost steering in the East River (NYC) during full ebb, and this story:

On our trip North from Georgia to RI, we were pressed for time (strike one). We decided to make a few overnight passages to stay on schedule but I wasn't keen on the icw at night, having seen the abrupt channel edges and crab pots it offered. One passage we made, having a "pretty good" weather window, was from Savannah to cape fear. A 36 hour run. The weather at the end looked a little rough, 2-4' inshore, and 6-8' offshore. I figured we'd be in the lee as we came into cape fear and while it would be a little lumpy, it should be fine. (Strike two, three, four, etc etc).

The first 24 hours were great. Calm, clear, we even caught a couple fish. As we entered onslow Bay ("long Bay"?) The wind started up. By hour 30, we had reduced speed to "clutch ahead" and we were falling off the backs of the waves so hard we flipped the table over and the anchor was jumping UP and gouging a hole in the underside of the bow pulpit. The wind was in our face and the waves were so steep, as our bow clipped off the wave tops, they slammed into the underside of the brow/window joint so hard they bashed in the caulking along the top and seawater started to rain into the pilothouse from the overhead. Seas built to a steep 10'. Standing in the pilothouse, my height of eye was right around 10' and the wave crests were regularly obscuring the horizon. Eventually the seas subsided as we came into the lee.

After a smooth 30 hours, what should have taken us 6 hours ended up requiring 10.


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Old 02-09-2019, 10:09 AM   #13
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I just tried to look at the video. Said no long available and mentioned something about the copyright.
No video in POST 16.
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