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Old 20-02-2011, 17:15   #1
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Almost Lost it Rowing Out

I left the boat out on the mooring this weekend. Rather than have to get up early and row out in the dark tomorrow morning I decided to go out and get it this afternoon. It was blowing 15 gusting to 25 but the boat is in a relatively protected little nook. I decided it seemed pretty safe and that I could go for it.

I got off the dock and tried rowing against the wind to make sure I could do it in case I overshot the boat which I could. I turned around and started heading out. I was surprised how much I was getting blown around, not only out towards the boat but getting rotated a bit too. Well about half way out a big gust hit me and spun me sideways. I dug in with my windward oar to try to right myself. The oar popped out of the oar lock, the shock of which caused me to fumble and dig in my now leeward oar and trip the dinghy I watch water come to within an inch of the edge of the gunnel guard before the dink righted itself. At this point I was badly off course and was going to miss the boat and (hopefully) fetch up on an abandoned island 300 yards away.

I overcorrected and ended up pinned against the mooring ball then, as I drifted down, against the bow, I again over-corrected and ended up too far off the boat and drifting at an alarming rate away from the boat and succor and into the white capped and ice jammed bay. Just as I was about to pass the boat and be really screwed I grabbed the stern cleat. I washed the alkaline taste from my mouth with whatever saliva I had left and climbed aboard.

Had I gone in that water I would have had about 5 minutes before I was unnable to rescue myself. I am sternly reminded again, that we are all here only by the rightness of the decisions we make and maybe by the grace of god. Next time I will not even chance it on a windy day unless it is August.
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Old 20-02-2011, 17:26   #2
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Old 20-02-2011, 17:38   #3
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A little 2hp is what you need. Light to carry, has its own fuel tank and uses next to no fuel anyway. Go out with confidence in those conditions without a pair of cumbersome sticks to cause strife. Have a paddle aboard just in case - a paddle is more managable and efficient than oars anyway.
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Old 20-02-2011, 17:47   #4
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Next time try going out to her backwards letting the wind blow you and controling speed and drift with your oars... be surprised how fast you get out there...
Close call... glad you stayed dry..
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Old 20-02-2011, 18:10   #5
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Not 15 to 25?

Doesn't sound like 15 to 25 kts.

I regularly row back in 20 kts, a few times I've done it in 25 kts. (The figures are from meteorological sources.) In general I don't have any problems.

You don't say how big your dinghy is or what type, but a larger inflatable could have been affected like that.

Are you sure it wasn't 30 gusting on 45?

Mind you I have not experienced any ice on Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson).
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Old 20-02-2011, 19:20   #6
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

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Next time try going out to her backwards letting the wind blow you and controling speed and drift with your oars... be surprised how fast you get out there...
Close call... glad you stayed dry..
Yes I thought of that right afterwords! Hind-site is 20/20. The dinghy for this boat is not very good I can't remember the make but it has been compared to rowing a pie plate by some of my co-workers. I do not have a lot of experience rowing this dinghy so that probably was adding to my difficulty. It was blowing 15 gusting to 25 according to NOAA and Wunderground. It was just quite gusty and shifting around a bit.
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Old 20-02-2011, 21:38   #7
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

It gets dicey sometimes. Twice I decided to stay put, one on the boat and once on land. The time we got stuck on land it was gusting to 75 and 7 boats sank that night, I'm glad we stayed where we were. The next day it was still blowing hard and it took me 30 minutes to row 100 yards. I had a piece of junk outboard that would only start when the weather was nice. Eventually I gave that outboard a float test. It failed.
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Old 20-02-2011, 22:16   #8
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

I don't know who the patron saint of sailors is but I think he was/she was a passenger that day.
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Old 20-02-2011, 22:50   #9
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

You don't row much, do you? I take my dink out in windy conditions for fun, a little water over the side is not uncommon. NEVER PANIC.
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Old 21-02-2011, 00:30   #10
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

I'm glad you're alright. I lost power in a gale out in the dink one day. I didn't need to go out and it was a bad decision that left me rowing like there might not be a tomorrow. Wasn't winter though but I wasn't looking forward to a long walk home if I had to take to shore. Live and learn I guess.
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Old 21-02-2011, 02:22   #11
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

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Have a paddle aboard just in case - a paddle is more managable and efficient than oars anyway.
sounds like someone has never tried to paddle a rowboat before.

good luck with that.
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Old 21-02-2011, 03:42   #12
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

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sounds like someone has never tried to paddle a rowboat before. good luck with that.
I use the paddle in my dink every day cobber, out to my boats on moorings. Just sit forward to keep the bow down and it's easy to stoke each side of the bow. On quiet days I usually stand in the dink because it makes the paddling easier.

On heavy days I take the 2hp because I'm lazy.

The paddle stick I made has a paddle blade on one end and a boat hook on the other. When arriving at a vessel, or back at the landing, the one stick is much easier than dealing with two oars. It also helps to be facing the way you're going.

I suggest you try it.

PS: it's a trick learned yonks ago in racing dinghies. When a race was cancelled due to lack of wind, we had a choice. Wait in line for a tow by the rescue boats, or lay on your belly on the foredeck at the bow paddling with your arms. The latter was preferred because it usually meant getting to the bar quicker :-)
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Old 21-02-2011, 04:27   #13
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

" a paddle is more managable and efficient than oars anyway."

Maybe in a canoe. Paddling a dinghy is one of the least efficient things I've ever had to do. Its especially hard with a hangover when your dinghy spent high tide under the dock and your oars floated away.
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Old 21-02-2011, 05:06   #14
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

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" a paddle is more managable and efficient than oars anyway."

Maybe in a canoe. Paddling a dinghy is one of the least efficient things I've ever had to do. Its especially hard with a hangover when your dinghy spent high tide under the dock and your oars floated away.
I'll bet you didn't keep the bow down by sitting in it. If you had, you'd have discovered how easy it is. Doesn't cure a hangover though...
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Old 21-02-2011, 05:19   #15
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Re: Almost Lost it Rowing Out

move to Florida .. you can swim back to the boat and sure don't need to worry about ice jams
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