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Old 20-07-2011, 05:03   #46
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Good post. Valuable lesson. Every sailing experience, even bad, teaches us something; at a minimum -- how not to do something. Since most people don't single hand most of the time, you point out that things you might be able to do with crew become impossible when solo on a boat. Something to think about. Sorry you wrecked your boat but glad you and your dog came through without injury. I am sure you won't be repeating any of the mistakes you listed although number 6 might not have even necessarily been a mistake. Sometimes it can be more dangerous to try and pull over and park than pressing on in bad conditions. Two boats in the Carib1500 last year were wrecked and one crew killed when they decided not to press on in a storm but rather attempted to enter port. It is a lot easier to judge everything in hindsight. My fuel gauges really aren't that reliable either so I always keep engine hours down on a pad. my boat holds around 172 gallons of diesel and burns about a gallon an hour. So after 140 hours, I start thinking about it. I was in a boat once before where the gauge said I had a quarter tank, but the fuel was bone dry. Managed to sail to a spot a hook could be dropped and called a friend to powerboat out some fuel. I was lucky, but could easily have wound up on the rocks if the wind hadn't been blowing or if it had been coming from the wrong direction. Well, good luck and happy sails in the future.
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Old 20-07-2011, 05:06   #47
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

You are not the first to run aground on the inaugral cruise, and definitely will not be the last. Treat it as a learning experience and carry on.
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Old 20-07-2011, 05:35   #48
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Thanks, Tee and Talbot. I look forward to sailing on, humbler and wiser, I hope.
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Old 20-07-2011, 10:36   #49
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Priceless to learn from others mistakes. Thanks again, lots of newbies will be more prepared for this area after reading this.

Keep on truckin is right. ....

Chase
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Old 20-07-2011, 14:30   #50
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Quote:
Originally Posted by DennisM View Post
On June 14 this year, I headed off for my first solo cruise. The plan was to take a month sailing from Haverstraw on the Hudson River out to Cape Cod and the islands and then back. I set aside a month.

Though I could have wished for more wind, my first 11 destinations were a delight. I stopped at NYC, two places on Long Island, Block Island, Newport, two places on Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Hyannis, Woods Hole and Provincetown, MA. I have to mention that my sail from Nantucket to Hyannis was one of the best I've ever experienced. A beam reach of 10-14 kts most of the way, and then sailing from buoy to buoy by simply adjusting the sails. That sail alone was worth the whole trip!

My wife drove out to meet me in Provincetown, and we enjoyed the Fourth of July weekend there together. On the morning of July 6th, my wife headed back home, and I charted a course to Mattapoisset, MA, timing the current down through the Cape Cod Canal. The forecast was for a sunny day with south winds 10 to 15 kts, which would mean no sailing, just motoring.

By the time I approached the northeast end of the canal, the headwinds were at 24 kts, and a light fog seemed to be settling in. I checked the NOAA weather, and there were now alerts for "unexpected dense fog" and rough seas at the inlets. I pressed on, figuring that Mattapoisset was only 10 miles from the southern end of the canal, so I should be able to make it.

By the time I got to the south end of the canal, the wind was 24-28 kts on the bow, and the fog was so dense that I couldn't see more than 100 yards ahead. I was navigating mostly with my chartplotter and radar, and that's when I ran into the rough seas at the entrance to Buzzard's Bay. As the seas and the fog increased to the point where I began to feel uncomfortable as a solo sailor, I decided to turn around. This, of course, headed me against the current, so I could only make about 1 - 2 kts.

After about an hour of motoring against the current, my fuel supply began to run out, and the engine quit. I managed to get the engine restarted once, just in time to avoid crashing into a cement sea wall, but I was in a narrow canal, in a strong current, with dense fog. Sailing single-handed under those conditions, there was no way I could add fuel to my tank using my extra fuel containers. So when the engine died again, the current ran me aground on a shoal on the western bank of the canal, near Onset, MA.

Fortunately, when the engine started to sputter, I got on the phone to BoatUS. After being passed along twice and placed on hold for a longer time than I wanted to wait, I was finally put in touch with Bill, the local towboat operator. I was on the phone with him when my boat ran aground, so I asked for assistance.

Despite the thick fog, he was there within 20 minutes. Before he arrived, the Canal Patrol had attempted to pull me off the shoal, but they couldn't get in close enough due to the shallow water. Bill, however, tossed me a line, and despite a strong current and almost zero visibility, he managed to pull me off the shoal. But it wasn't easy. He couldn't pull me out into the canal, because we couldn't see out there. He also had to contend with his boat taking on water as he tried to unground me. But he never gave up. It took more than two hours, but he finally managed to get me off the shoal. I am very grateful for his skill, effort and perseverance.

In the process, though, my rudder post was bent and the bottom of the rudder got chewed up. I am currently awaiting repairs, and I look forward to continuing my cruise homeward with some serious lessons learned. Here are the miscalculations I made that contributed to my grounding:

1. Lack of full understanding of, and experience with, the limitations of solo cruising such as the inability to add fuel from containers single-handed under difficult conditions

2. Trusting in the indications of a fuel gauge

3. Not topping off the fuel tank before a cruise leg, when the opportunity presented itself

4. Expecting weather conditions to either improve or not worsen, because the original forecast was for better than the actual weather

5. Not thoroughly researching alternate harbors or anchoring spots for refuge.

6. Pressing on into worsening conditions

7. Not taking full heed of NOAA alerts on the radio and changing plans accordingly

I offer this tale in the hope that it will help others avoid the problems I encountered. That rudder is gonna cost me (and my insurance company) a pretty penny.
Wow Dennis, now Im not the only guy with a bent rudder on his 32-200..LOL!

Glad you got off that shoal ok.
Rick
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Old 21-07-2011, 05:28   #51
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Thanks, csh.

Heya Rick! Good to hear from you. Apparently the new rudder post is being installed as we "speak," and Plan B will be ready to launch on Tuesday. I look forward to resuming the cruise. I hope my dog does, too. How are things going with your Ericson? Sweet boat, eh?
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Old 21-07-2011, 14:05   #52
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Lovin the 32-200!

I haven't developed enough moxy to singlehand yet. Tell your dog you'll buy him a companion if the toughs it out and makes the trip home. It may take some bribery.....LOL!
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Old 21-07-2011, 14:25   #53
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Any chance you can teach the dog to steer. Failing that, an autopilot would be a great addition. Would allow you to leave the helm to attend to other things. I do a lot of single handed sailing and couldn't imagine leaving the dock without my selfsteering vane and autopilot. Here's a used tiller one on Ebay:
Simrad TP 10 autopilot for sailboats to 33 feet NR | eBay
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Old 21-07-2011, 15:05   #54
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

Heya Rick!

Single-handing is not all its cracked up to be (pun intended). You gotta watch out for rocks! LOL

Thanks for the link, Roverhi. I do have an autopilot. It's an older Raymarine ST-something or other that doesn't function well in a rough sea and seems to lose its mind with a following sea of any size. It's on my list to upgrade.
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Old 21-07-2011, 15:07   #55
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Re: A Bent Rudder and Lessons Learned

+1 on roverhi's suggestion of autopilot. A single handed sailor should never leave home without it, IMHO.
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