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Old 21-08-2014, 10:45   #1
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A fool and his money

I've had the itch to sail and explore for years and it really got to me this year as I began to reflect upon the fact that I had more years behind me than I had ahead of me. The itch became unbearable and in May of this year I cashed in a chunk of my retirement and bought a used Bristol Channel Cutter. It was love at first sight, so much so that I declined getting a survey and bought her as is with the intention of repairing her shortcomings as I sailed. Her rig was sound and she sailed like a dream. She was always the prettiest thing in any anchorage or marina. The fact that her systems for the most part didn't work was something I intended to deal with over the winter layup when I had her hauled and redid her innards and her unusual interior.

When I inquired about insurance I discovered that a survey was required and since I'd forgone the survey I also decided to forgo the insurance. I assumed that if she was lost, it would be while I was offshore and there would be no pressing need to restore anything for my heirs. I simply assumed I'd go down with her.

While berthed in Savannah I decided to take an overnight trip up to Hilton Head to do some sailing instead of just working on her. On July 19 I sailed up to Hilton Head and anchored off a point called Dolphin Head for the night. I noticed that the anchor light seemed dim, but just assumed that it was going out like everything else electrical on the boat. I'd been up and down the mast a half a dozen times and hadn't been able to get anything to work. Another chore for winter. The tide changed around 9 pm and I went forward to raise the anchor and shift my anchorage a bit to get closer to shore and farther from the sandbar.

After cranking up the chain and 60# CQR, I turned and headed for the cockpit and was startled to see smoke billowing out of the cabin. The smoke was so thick I couldn't see in the cabin and other then seeing the smoke pouring out around the electrical panel I couldn't see where the fire extinguisher was or anything else. I knew I had a handheld VHF on the chart table and went into the cabin briefly to reclaim the VHF by feel and came back on deck. I made a quick Mayday which was picked up by the Coast Guard and gave them a general location and then with cushion in hand either jumped or fell over the side. I'm a bit hazy on that.

While I watched the boat burn from the water I started feeling like I was burning which confused me a bit until I figured out I must be in a soup of jelly fish. The roller furling jib had by this time fallen from the masthead and was still attached to the tip of the bowsprit so I headed for that and sat in the jib hanging from the bowsprit as the boat burned and I waited for the Coast Guard.

The boat burned to the waterline and sank along with my dreams and a significant chunk of my retirement.

Draw whatever lessons you wish from this.


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Old 21-08-2014, 10:54   #2
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Re: A fool and his money

If ever there was a story with several strong lessons to be learned from it, this is it! I'm sorry for your loss! I'm always of the opinion that whatever you don't know, will get you eventually. However, I know quite a few very lucky people who are blithely ignorant of even the most basic maintenance on their vehicles or homes and for some reason (it must be luck) nothing ever happens to them.

Like my mom. Her battery in her alarm fob died, so she thought she couldn't get into her car, thought the key was only for the ignition. The parts guy was so amused he gave her a new battery for free. Meanwhile, the battery in her car lasted for 12 YEARS!!! I wouldn't believe it myself if it hadn't crapped out on me in a Costco parking lot. I dragged the battery in for the core charge and the lady tells me, "Yes, she bought this battery just over 12 yrs ago!"

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Old 21-08-2014, 11:01   #3
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Re: A fool and his money

Don't know what else to say but

Glad you are ok and didn't get hurt.
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Old 21-08-2014, 11:04   #4
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Re: A fool and his money

Generoll, I am so very sorry for your loss...of your money, of your boat, of your dream, and very nearly your life. Thank you for sharing your story so that others can learn from it. We didn't have a survey on the boat we just purchased beforehand, as we too determined that whatever repairs were necessary we would just make. However we are requred it for the insurance within the next month and after hearing your story I wouldn't forego it now (or cancel the insurance) for anything!! Whatever issues we might be facing I would just as soon know about them now than learn a hard lesson like you were forced to endure.

Good luck to you. I hope you try again.
Cruising the waterways and traveling the highways looking for fun and adventure wherever it might be found.
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Old 21-08-2014, 11:08   #5
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Re: A fool and his money

Wow! I'm sorry to hear about your awful run of bad luck. I'm glad it had a good ending with you being rescued. And I thought my summer was testing me at times with two close calls...... Wow!

I hope you recover soon from your ordeal. Thanks for sharing your story. Good luck in the future.

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Old 21-08-2014, 11:19   #6
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Re: A fool and his money

Wow, thank goodness you survived. Get back on that saddle. You won't regret it.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
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Old 21-08-2014, 11:24   #7
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Re: A fool and his money

Such a sad story. I'm sorry for your loss. You are the second person I know who has lost a BCC. The other was a couple who sailed from Newport, CA to Hawaii and while anchored in Hilo she slipped her mooring and sank. BCC are such beautifully designed boats.

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