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Old 23-12-2015, 11:16   #1
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Amazing luck you've observed

Sometimes the uninitiated or downright stupid just get lucky. This is one of their stories.

Some years ago early in the morning we anchored in the cove at Camelot Island in the Thousand Islands. This lovely little cove is surrounded on three sides by solid rock, but the bottom is OK with mud.

It's a very popular destination, and as the day progressed the cove filled past capacity. The later arrivals wound up close to the rocks on the lee shore or along the rock cliff on the north.

A Canadian Juneau of about 40 feet was one of the last in around dinner time. They dropped anchor (as in *splash* not as in "set") and tied the stern to a tree onshore. We laughed at them.

There was weather coming. Bad weather. But for the day it was beautiful, warm, bright sunshine. We swam, we chased pike snorkeling, we had happy hour and grilled up a few steaks.

But all afternoon the VHF was broadcasting severe weather alerts. As the storm hit the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, some 25km west, the distress calls started. Boats were reporting a 65 knot squall.

A few minutes later we saw it in the waning light- an ominous pure black wall. When it hit it was a freight train- winds went from 5 knots to 65+ knots in seconds. We were heeled over 40 degrees. And that's when the **** hit the fan.

Upwind boats dragged, being T-boned by those whose anchors held. Three or so boats were thrown on the rocks. The mates jumped to the helm while the skippers were on deck trying to re-anchor. It was like World War II- the sky was alight with lightning and spotlights. We grabbed a 35' Nonsuch as it went by, quickly securing it to our vessel, while also standing by to cut it free if we started to drag anchor.

Within minutes, and with the storm still raging, those who were secure were in the inflatables trying to pull boats away from the rocks and disentangle others. I couldn't hear a thing between the lightning and screaming wind, but while helping one boat I saw my father- who was also anchored in the cove- busy assisting those on the rocks. It was a total catastrophe.

Twenty minutes later the storm subsided. We secured the Nonsuch after assuring the frightened couple aboard that they could stay on us for the night.

Exhausted and injured, I look aft. Most boats were, more or less, secured to other boats. Those that had hit the rocks apparently weren't holed, as they'd been pulled off and tied alongside other vessels.

My gaze went forward and that's when I saw the most amazing sight. The Canadian morons in the Juneau who hadn't set anchor and who took the 65 knot blow on the beam (thanks to the stern line to the shore) were still right there, like nothing ever happened.
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Old 23-12-2015, 11:28   #2
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

Oh those Canadian morons. We make the worst morons up here I Canada, without a doubt so far as morons are concerned. .


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Old 23-12-2015, 11:47   #3
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

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Oh those Canadian morons. We make the worst morons up here I Canada, without a doubt so far as morons are concerned. .


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Old 23-12-2015, 11:54   #4
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

Ach, dey koula kome all da way frum Toronto, dontcha know?

Great story about how to set an anchor, Canadian style. I'm right now on Vancouver Island, Cowichan Bay. Cold and rainy, and it blew like stink all ladst night, from the east.
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Old 23-12-2015, 12:10   #5
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

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Ach, dey koula kome all da way frum Toronto, dontcha know?

Great story about how to set an anchor, Canadian style. I'm right now on Vancouver Island, Cowichan Bay. Cold and rainy, and it blew like stink all ladst night, from the east.

Now come on, I wasn't Canadian bashing!
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Old 23-12-2015, 16:02   #6
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

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Now come on, I wasn't Canadian bashing!

We know you didn't mean it.👌🏻✌


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Old 23-12-2015, 17:02   #7
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

Minor luck, but incredible odds:

A Friend was fishing with a lure in Hill inlet, he hooked a big fish and the line broke. He was a bit sad, because the lure was one he'd inherited from his father when he died.


A couple days later they sailed to Airlie beach and reprovisioned, then a week or so later returned to Hill inlet.


when he was setting up his stern anchor, his sunglasses fell off into the water. He noted where they were, and decided he'd just go fetch them at low tide.

Low tide came and he picked up his glasses, and did a walk around the boat. And found his dad's old lure hooked on the anchor bridle! Must have been drifting up and down the tides for the whole time.


What are the odds?
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Old 24-12-2015, 07:32   #8
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

I didn't see it, but it happened to a friend of mine. At the end of Bristol Bay salmon season, the two power scows we used as buy boats returned to Seattle for the winter via the inside passage, anchoring most nights along the way. Although the two scows departed at about the same time and had the same destination, they weren't necessarily traveling together.

It had been a few days since they'd been in contact with one another. Dusk had fallen and my friend's scow was headed to a cove to anchor for the night. No one on board noticed when, on his way forward to manage the anchoring evolution, my friend fell overboard. As he tread water a mile or so from shore he watched the stern light of his scow get smaller.

A few minutes later, he saw a light from behind him. It was the search light from the trailing scow combing the shoreline, looking for a good place to in the same anchorage. They spotted Bret, and hauled him aboard.

"Hey skip, I've got your wet deckhand on board." on Ch 16 was the first the lead scow knew Brett wasn't on board.
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Old 24-12-2015, 09:16   #9
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

Oh, excuse me, could you make that "polite" Canadian morons? Please?

Couldn't resist. Merry Christmas to all.
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Old 24-12-2015, 10:19   #10
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

1977 pre-electronic navigation aids:

I have observed no signs of land since leaving Samoa fourteen days ago. We have kept on all sail to help power us through these steep, sloppy seas. The sun set on us before sighting land so I will spend another uneasy night wondering if we will see the reef surrounding Fanning Island before we sail directly onto it. The darkness is complete but there are stars beginning to peek out between the frequent squalls. It is as if we are sailing down a deep canyon, whose black walls of rain reach up into a dark night sky.

In spite of the fact that I have been unable to confirm our position by celestial observation for two days, I keep a close account of the direction and distance we have been traveling. Dead reckoning and in these latitudes, the name takes on greater significance.

I know we must be close to the atoll. The prudent mariner would have taken down all sails and hove-to until he had enough light to see where he was going. I am acting with less caution because I don’t want to lose eight hours of progress waiting for the dawn.

We are able to steer around many of the squalls that are racing down on us by altering course just slightly one way or the other. When a squall is unavoidable, we go through the laborious process of dropping the main sail and sheeting out the genoa until we pass through the worst of the cell.

At around one o’clock in the morning, we had just emerged from one of these squalls into a large patch of ocean with clear skies. I scanned the horizon way ahead but saw only another black form of an approaching squall.

From the corner of my eye I could see the sky growing lighter and lighter toward the west as though the sun was rising in reverse but much faster. I turned my head to face this strange phenomenon just as an enormous meteor streaked, as if from out of the ocean and shot across the sky.

It was well within the atmosphere and I would judge it was below five thousand feet. As it crossed our meridian it broke the sound barrier with such a thunderous explosion that it drove us to our knees on the deck. As fast as it had risen out of the west, it had set into the east. The complete blackness of this stormy night was transformed into the brightness of midday but more so in that our eyes could not accustom to it so quickly.

It was as if the sun had decided to throw in a new day but in reverse order and lasting only a few seconds. The burning tail of debris in the meteor’s wake left a lingering twilight for fully three minutes after its passing. We were at first blinded and deafened by the explosive horizon-to-horizon passage of the meteor then left to squint into the dazzling transformation of darkest night turned to brightest day.

As our eyes adjusted to the eerie green twilight of the fading tail of the meteor, we could clearly see palm trees beyond heavy swells breaking upon the reef of Fanning Atoll directly off the bow and very close in. There is little doubt that we would have sailed straight onto the reef were it not for the timely arrival of the meteor.

There have been several times in my life where the word coincidence just didn’t do justice to the magnitude of the events that have transpired to keep me from harms way, this was certainly one of those times.

Call it what you may; a timely occurrence, divine intervention, coincidence or just one very lucky turn of events but this astronomical occurrence has transformed the way I have looked at the world ever since. I have good reason to believe that my life would have ended then and there upon the jagged coral reef with tons of ocean pounding my little ship to pieces were it not for the timing of this meteor. There is someone or something watching out for me and I give to it my credence and gratitude every day.

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night,

Curtis Ciszek
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Old 24-12-2015, 10:56   #11
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

A long long time ago in another era we observed a surfaced trident submarine hit, rise up, and slide off an iceberg's submerged flank. Good thing it slid off when it did, right before the whole iceberg flipped over. Big berg, about quarter mile long. Stupid sub(Not even Canadian). Often wondered if the Russians had observed the navigational qualities of their enemy. Anyways, it reminded us to keep real distance between us and the big bergs as well as from surfaced subs.
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Old 24-12-2015, 11:14   #12
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

Quote:
Originally Posted by seasick View Post
1977 pre-electronic navigation aids:

I have observed no signs of land since leaving Samoa fourteen days ago. We have kept on all sail to help power us through these steep, sloppy seas. The sun set on us before sighting land so I will spend another uneasy night wondering if we will see the reef surrounding Fanning Island before we sail directly onto it. The darkness is complete but there are stars beginning to peek out between the frequent squalls. It is as if we are sailing down a deep canyon, whose black walls of rain reach up into a dark night sky.

In spite of the fact that I have been unable to confirm our position by celestial observation for two days, I keep a close account of the direction and distance we have been traveling. Dead reckoning and in these latitudes, the name takes on greater significance.

I know we must be close to the atoll. The prudent mariner would have taken down all sails and hove-to until he had enough light to see where he was going. I am acting with less caution because I donít want to lose eight hours of progress waiting for the dawn.

We are able to steer around many of the squalls that are racing down on us by altering course just slightly one way or the other. When a squall is unavoidable, we go through the laborious process of dropping the main sail and sheeting out the genoa until we pass through the worst of the cell.

At around one oíclock in the morning, we had just emerged from one of these squalls into a large patch of ocean with clear skies. I scanned the horizon way ahead but saw only another black form of an approaching squall.

From the corner of my eye I could see the sky growing lighter and lighter toward the west as though the sun was rising in reverse but much faster. I turned my head to face this strange phenomenon just as an enormous meteor streaked, as if from out of the ocean and shot across the sky.

It was well within the atmosphere and I would judge it was below five thousand feet. As it crossed our meridian it broke the sound barrier with such a thunderous explosion that it drove us to our knees on the deck. As fast as it had risen out of the west, it had set into the east. The complete blackness of this stormy night was transformed into the brightness of midday but more so in that our eyes could not accustom to it so quickly.

It was as if the sun had decided to throw in a new day but in reverse order and lasting only a few seconds. The burning tail of debris in the meteorís wake left a lingering twilight for fully three minutes after its passing. We were at first blinded and deafened by the explosive horizon-to-horizon passage of the meteor then left to squint into the dazzling transformation of darkest night turned to brightest day.

As our eyes adjusted to the eerie green twilight of the fading tail of the meteor, we could clearly see palm trees beyond heavy swells breaking upon the reef of Fanning Atoll directly off the bow and very close in. There is little doubt that we would have sailed straight onto the reef were it not for the timely arrival of the meteor.

There have been several times in my life where the word coincidence just didnít do justice to the magnitude of the events that have transpired to keep me from harms way, this was certainly one of those times.

Call it what you may; a timely occurrence, divine intervention, coincidence or just one very lucky turn of events but this astronomical occurrence has transformed the way I have looked at the world ever since. I have good reason to believe that my life would have ended then and there upon the jagged coral reef with tons of ocean pounding my little ship to pieces were it not for the timing of this meteor. There is someone or something watching out for me and I give to it my credence and gratitude every day.

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night,

Curtis Ciszek
Perfect story for my coffee break! Thank you!
I experienced a similar metorite in the deep Utah desert of canyon lands. I am in awe with the memory 25 years later!
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Old 24-12-2015, 11:56   #13
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

The Black Box Theory

Why is it that some sailors go quietly about their business, consistently making quick, safe, and satisfying passages, while others lurch erratically from port to port amid a series of catastrophes? Is it luck? No, it's the Fifth Essential.

I first stumbled across the concept more than 30 years ago, when I was a newspaper reporter in Durban, South Africa. One of my early assignments was to cover a speech by a visiting American yachtsman and scientist, a talk he called "The Fifth Essential for Successful Yacht Voyages." He talked about it for a full half-hour, but never once mentioned what the Fifth Essential was. "I'm not superstitious," he said, "but I am not going to name it. I'll leave that to you to work out."

He listed the first four essentials in this order:

1. A well-found ship
2. A good crew
3. Adequate preparation and maintenance
4. Seamanship

As he wouldn't name the Fifth Essential, he could only describe how it worked. He offered some well-documented examples of how it had affected the lives of yachting pioneers.

We soon got the idea. Take Joshua Slocum, for instance. During his circumnavigation he was chased by a pirate vessel off the coast of Morocco. He cracked on all sail, but the pirates were still bearing down on him. Determined to give a good account of himself, he ducked down below for his rifle. Suddenly a squall hit the Spray. When his little vessel was under control again, he glanced back and saw that the squall had dismasted the pirate ship, which lay wallowing in the wreckage of its spars.

Then there was Harry Pidgeon, who sailed twice around the world singlehanded. On one occasion, when a change in wind direction set his yawl, Sea Bird, sailing toward the coast while he slept below, the boat ran aground on the only sandy bay in tens of miles of rocky coastline. Furthermore she had to pass over a rocky ledge at the entrance to the bay. Had it been low tide when Sea Bird sailed in so confidently, she would have gotten no farther. As it happened, Pidgeonwas able to refloat her, refit her, and carry on.

Over the years I noted the same theme recurring in talks with such splendid seamen as Bernard Moitessier, Jean Gau, and Eric Hiscock. In fact, I expect all of us who have sailed for any time have had similar experiences - and thanked our lucky stars at the time. But it isn't luck, really. There's much more to the Fifth Essential than mere chance.

In 1986, when I started fitting out my own 31-footer, Freelance, for a voyage from Durban to the United States, I reduced the Fifth Essential to a simple system of accident prevention. In the Freelance corollary to the theory, every boat possesses an imaginary black box, a sort of bank account in which points are kept. In times of emergency, when there is nothing more to be done in the way of sensible seamanship, the points from your black box can buy your way out of trouble. You have no control over how the points are spent, of course; they withdraw themselves when the time is appropriate. You do have control over how the points get into the box: you earn them. For every seamanlike act you perform, you get a point in the black box. Points come in so many ways it would be impossible to list them all. But I can send you in the right direction. Let's say you're planning a weekend cruise down the coast, and time is precious. You have been wondering for some weeks if you ought to haul out the bosun's chair and inspect the masthead fittings. It has been a couple of years since you checked everything up there, but it would mean delaying your departure by an hour, maybe more, should you have to change a shackle or something.

If you finally give in to the nagging voice inside you and go aloft, you earn a point in the box. If you don't take that trouble, your black box will stay empty. If you sniff the bilges for fumes before pushing the starter button, you'll score a point, just as you will for taking a precautionary reef at nightfall or checking the expiration date on your rocket flares. Thinking and worrying about what could happen is also a good way to earn points - if the wind started blowing into your quiet anchorage at 40 miles an hour and the engine wouldn't start, or whether you should put a couple of reefs in the mainsail before you climb into your bunk, just in case.

No matter how good your seamanship, there are times when there is nothing left to do but batten down the hatches and pray. If you have a credit balance of points in the box, you'll be all right. People will say you're lucky, of course. They'll say a benign fate let you get away with it. But we know better. That luck was earned, maybe over quite a long period.

Not that there's any room for complacency. If an emergency drains all the points from your black box, you must immediately set about replacing them by tending to your boat, your crew, and yourself in a seaman like way and by practicing extra caution for as long as seems right.

It may seem unfair that you cannot check your credit balance in the black box, but it's just as well. If I knew I had sufficient points to get me through a weekend, I might not bother to go up the mast before setting out. Not knowing keeps us on our toes.

In practice, however, your conscience will be a good guide. Have you put off changing the engine oil for the umpteenth time? Does the port navigation light still need a new bulb? Be careful. You may be running low on points.

In the same way, your conscience will tell you when you have credit. You will glow with that quiet sort of confidence that inspires crews and makes for happy voyages.

This article was copied from Good Old Boat Magazine: Volume 2, Number 4, July/August 1999.

Rereading this article today I am also reminded of Shackleton's and Worsley's epic voyage in the 20 ft James Caird. Before they left Elephant Island, Shackleton refused to pack supplies for more than four weeks, knowing that if they did not reach South Georgia within that time, the boat and its crew would be lost. The James Caird was launched on 24 April 1916; and for the next 15 days, she sailed across the 720 miles of the Southern Ocean, under horrendous conditions. Thanks to Worsley's sailing and navigational skills, the cliffs of South Georgia came into sight, but hurricane-force winds prevented a landing. They stood offshore, till the following day, when they were able, finally, to land on one of the very few tiny beaches in 100 miles of coast line.
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Old 24-12-2015, 12:00   #14
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

Daughter and i took TOKOLO(7.5 tanzer) out for a short choppy sail after final pump out before winter haul
out.Back at slip putting sails away,i
was taking jib of furler when forestay c‚ble broke at top,mast came down,suprising but much less dramatic
them if under way.LUCKY!
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Old 24-12-2015, 12:24   #15
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Re: Amazing luck you've observed

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The Black Box Theory.....................the points from your black box can buy your way out of trouble. You have no control over how the points are spent, of course; they withdraw themselves when the time is appropriate. You do have control over how the points get into the box: you earn them. For every seamanlike act you perform, you get a point in the black box. Points come in so many ways it would be impossible to list them all. But I can send you in the right direction.
Very wise counsel.

A good friend actually gave us a Little Black Box with somewhat the same story inside it.

It's worked quite well these past 17 1/2 years, although some "stuff" still happens.

It's a boat, after all, and the only way to avoid "stuff" happening is to NOT use the boat, which, for me, simply ain't gonna happen.

Thanks again.
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