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Old 18-07-2011, 12:53   #16
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

G'Day all,

I do not know the area under discussion, and so can't guess as to the advisability of anchoring. But to me it seems that usually anchoring, even in an exposed place and under bad conditions is better than a severe grounding. Once anchored, the fuel transfer could have been made, dog reassured, head visited, etc, all the while ringing the fog bell at the required intervals. Then, engine running again, one could resume the trip if you felt like it.

I used to do lots of singlehanding in a Yankee 30. One of the first things I did to improve the vessel for that usage was to mount a stern anchor, ready to deploy, close to the helm. Used it in anger a few times when things were going pear shaped.
Seems like a good thing to be able to anchor, especially in awkward situations, no matter how big or small the crew.

Meanwhile, I'm glad that you view this as a learning experience rather that a disaster. Hang in there, mate!

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Old 18-07-2011, 12:54   #17
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

One of my biggest oversights was going by the inlet to Onset, MA, twice in tough conditions without even knowing it was there. If I had pulled in there instead of pressing on into Buzzard's Bay, I wouldn't have had the problems I ended up with. And if I had pulled in on my way back up the canal, I probably could have made it in there before I ran out of fuel. 20/20 hindsight at its best!
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Old 18-07-2011, 12:56   #18
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Thanks Salty and Jim! A stern anchor is a good idea for solo sailing.
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Old 18-07-2011, 14:02   #19
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

An easily deployed anchor is about as important as the boat. It's the only way to handle those embarassing situations where the mast falls down, a sail hangs up, and/or the engine quits when your shallow water.

Not dropping an anchor when the engine quit, took you from a bit of embarrassment to being aground and suffering rudder damage. An anchor could have been used to kedge your self off after the fact as well.

Can't believe it took so long for someone to point out the REAL problem in your preparation that you found yourself in.
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Old 18-07-2011, 14:28   #20
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Thanks, Roverhi!
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Old 18-07-2011, 15:21   #21
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Hi Dennis;
Sorry to hear about your trials and tribulations but on the bright side, you made it with fairly minor damage and now your dog thinks you are “Superman”. You learned a lot during the experience, and you have been given lots of great input from the good folks here, I’m only able to add one new (But important) suggestion but I’ll reiterate what I think are the key suggestions as well.
What in this thread, has become known as “Rule 6” is extremely important, when you are going to be in, or close to coastal waters, along with your usual navigation planning, do what I do and ask yourself “What If” for all the potential tight spots. Think, Envisage, Mentally Sail the route, that way, you will tend to come up with a few useful “What If” solutions. I was taught to do that as a Navy fighter pilot and although I felt a bit stupid acting out missions on the dog shelf at first, I very quickly learned the value of having a mental simulation of having “Been there, done that” sort of feeling when the brown stuff hit the fan.
I thought it important to mention that but of equal importance, again when single handed in or near coastal waters, an easy to reach and toss aft anchor is a must as many have suggested, but another very important point is to do with your forward anchor, and how you have it set up.
All too often, sailors get caught out because of the amount of time it takes them to release the anchor because they never thought they would need it in an emergency. Single handed, coastal sailing, make damned sure you have set it up so that you can get the thing over the side in a heartbeat and I’m sure you can figure out a way to do that on your boat without damaging the paint.
Finally, there were a couple or more points at which you should have dropped anchor and you didn’t because you thought it safer to continue. It clearly was not, and dropping anchor, using your radio to notify everyone and his dog of your position in your situation was probably the lesser of all evils.
All that said, I bet you can’t wait to get back at it, get better at it and if this will help at all, I’m prepared to bet that all the folks who have commented here (Perhaps me especially) have made far worse mistakes than you and we’re still loving it…James
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Old 18-07-2011, 16:01   #22
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Dennis, thanks for posting. Lots of planning and the hindsight shown here will keep you out of trouble in the future. Like others, I have a stern anchor ready to go and my primary bower is always ready. Just be careful rushing forward (stay on board) and always watch your fingers when dropping ground tackle in these conditions. Everyone makes it sound easy but you have to rehearse actions like this in your mind and have really good situational awareness, luck, or both. When Sh%* gets hairy, be intentional.

Sounds like a fairly extreme shift in weather, equivalent to our afternoon thunderstorms down here in the southeast. They can be nasty and scary but properly prepped, no big deal. I try to travel early in the day when t storms are active but not as big of a deal if on a big sound where I can toss the hook and get away from the lightning.

Sorry such a costly lesson, but nothing compared to losing a finger or worse as can happen when one loses composure.

I motored into a large anchorage the other night in the dark, weary after a long day and anchored right on top of a guy. I felt like total moron and still am surprised at how badly I botched it. The wind was a little fresh and getting the anchor up was not easy, first time using my manual windlass and new rode on my new and bigger boat.

Anyway, here's to a great completion to your solo cruise. BTW, does your boat have a smaller outboard or something? Trying to understand the re-fueling deal.

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Old 19-07-2011, 06:54   #23
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Thank you James and Chase for your additional information and encouragement. I cannot wait to get back out on the water. I'm being told that the boat will be ready next week. I hope it's true. It will take me about 8 days to get her home, stopping each night. And I will try not to terrorize my dog this time.

Chase, my boat has an inboard diesel. I keep extra fuel in 5-gallon containers in two cockpit compartments. Once aground I managed to add fuel to the tank from one of the containers, but while still trying to control the boat, it was not possible.
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Old 19-07-2011, 07:40   #24
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Some good points made by others in this thread, but I'd like to add a few others as one who has traveled through that area a few times:

1) The Cape Cod Canal Control has sophisticated electronic surveillance and knows about every boat large and small, approaching and transiting the canal. If you sneeze they will know it. If you had anchored in the channel you could have called them and saved your boat from damage as they would have run interference for you (either by calling specific vessels and VHF announcement or with their patrol boats) for the 10-20 minutes or so until you could get refueled and bleed your fuel lines to get back underway. Even if you don't have a windlass (or ability to haul it back aboard yourself in those winds/current) you would have been better off sacrificing an anchor than your boat. (Sorry about being an arm-chair coach on this point. I realize you were dealing with a lot at the time.)

2) Another thing to work into your plans and especially interpretation of the forecast is that when the wind runs contrary to current you're going to have steeper and larger chop. This can make for very uncomfortable or even dangerous conditions that would not be an issue otherwise. Buzzards Bay has a reversing tidal current and is known for this chop -- and you encountered it.... given that you were heading with current SW through the canal (sailboats don't buck that current) and you mentioned you were heading upwind. 10 miles through that with 20-30 on the nose is literally a punishment.

Finally, you didn't mention it but a hunch is you might have pressed on because you had a schedule in mind, and trying to keep it. You mentioned dense fog, strong headwinds, and pressing on... WHY? More boats have made misjudgments about heading into bad weather because of schedules than any other reason. When the weather turns to ****, stay put. You're right -- you should have ducked into Onset.
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Old 19-07-2011, 07:54   #25
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Thanks, SFT. You are right about a schedule, of sorts. I was only 10 miles from my intended destination of Mattapoisset. I had been through some rough chop at the Buzzard's Bay inlet to the canal before under similar, but not as extreme, conditions. The mistakes I made included:
1. I knew about the opposing wind and current stacking up the waves. I'd been through that before, and I felt I could make it through again.
2. I'd been through fairly thick fog before with no problems, and I have radar.

But the waves and fog turned out to be bigger than I had counted on, and as you say, dangerous, at least based on my limited experience. Also, my radar was returning the tops of the waves, literally wiping out returns from buoys and other boats.
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Old 19-07-2011, 07:56   #26
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

BTW as you continue your journey you're going to encounter other areas with reversing currents, so try to time your travel when the wind and current are the same direction. Examples:
Buzzards Bay
Narragansett Bay
The area between Point Judith RI and Block Island (current runs E-W, W-E)
The Race and Fishers Island Sound
Long Island Sound
Lower Hudson estuary

Have a great trip.

Edit -- PS: this post was added before I saw your reply above.
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Old 19-07-2011, 08:09   #27
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Thanks, SFT. I've been quite faithful in studying my Eldridge (plus an iPhone app on tides and currents) before every leg of the trip, and I've made a successful habit of catching the slingshot effect in both directions on the East River - Hudson River leg on 4 or 5 occasions. My next anticipated leg will be from Onset to Newport, with the effects of Buzzard's Bay and The Race currents in mind.
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Old 19-07-2011, 08:31   #28
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Coming out of the canal at Onset with a southwest wind blowing against the tide can surprise the most experienced sailor. I've sailed those waters for decades and I now routinely shut all the hatches, don foul weather gear and prepare for serious buttocks clenching as I pass under the railroad bridge.

As others mentioned. The biggest lesson learned is that neither you or your dog got hurt or fell overboard. Everything else is just an adventure.

If I remember correctly, your boat has encapsulated ballast. If so, you'll want to go over your keel very carefully. Bouncing on rocks can easily put a small crack in the fiberglass and let water in around the ballast.

Carl
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Old 19-07-2011, 08:42   #29
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Thanks, Carl. I honestly don't know anything about encapsulated ballast. My boat has a bolted-on wing keel. The bottom is all lead, which now has a few more gouges and dings in it. Does that preclude encapsulated? I'm confused.
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Old 19-07-2011, 08:47   #30
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

No, that is not encapsulated. Encapsulated means encased in fiberglass that is part of the hull, not bolt on.
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