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Old 23-12-2009, 01:28   #1
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My Only Knockdown

Years ago, after having quite a bit of ocean and sailing experience, I bought a Cal 20, just for playing around in a smallish local lake. I got the cal for 1000 bucks so I triumphantly brought her home. Only then did I look up her specifications on the Cal 20 owners website.

I found that the boat had been heavily altered, including chopping off her torpedo looking keel bulb! Their were also a few brilliant mods, like cockpit control of the halyards. I called the seller, and he called his uncle who origionally sold it to him. The Uncle, was an elderly Australian fellow who seemed to know about boats. He told me that he also chopped the mast off by a couple feet and had the sails resized inorder to keep the boat from being "tender". He also mentioned that he customized the boat to suit him, since he was a parapalegic and couldnt really walk.

Me and one of my friends took my 12 year old son and 4 of his little friends out to the local Texas lake to do Sea-trials. Needless to say that the days' weather was quite stormy and the wind constantly picked up then dropped, then picked up again thoughout the entire day.


Once we got her in the water and rigged. After that we had many hours of fun running the little boat around the lake and back, mainly under a full main and a working jib. Unfortunately a huge Texas bunch of nimbo-cumulous monster cloud poked its aweful head, above the late afternoon horizon.

I being the Captain, was having the greatest time with the boat, and was running her mainly at hull speed, but made the fateful decision to sail down the lake one more time, before heading toward shore.

Things were looking calm as we sailed past a windward point, but as soon as we were past the shelter of a grove of tall pines, the squall hit like a hammer!

The alleged "not tender" boat got knocked down harshly on its port side, like a whore being slapped by an angry pimp! The Captain (me) was steering on the portside at the time, and got washed out of the cockpit by the rush of water coming over the coaming. This all happened in an instant! I GOT WASH OUT OF MY FRICKING BOAT!!!!.

I happened to grab a tailing rope on the way out and was being pulled across the lake like a cod on a line. The boat came back up pretty fast and was starting to get knocked down again under the pressure of the 60 mile per hour squall. My son doused the main, while his little buddies were crawling on the spacious deck like a bunch of little ants. Since I released the jib as I got sucked out of the boat, that was no longer an issue.


Once the main was doused, and a few hectic minutes had passed, I managed to get back to the boat (thank god since no one on the boat knew how to sail, or turn it around to get me)...

I flopped my big ass onto the cockpit, pulled in the jib a little and we pounded our way back to the launch area. This was a tiny lake by Texas standards. Although the storm was nasty and full of electricity we got the boat on the trailer and didn't even lose one kid. Then I took them all out to the local steakhouse and told them how proud I was of them for not panicking nor jumping out of the boat while it was down on it's side.

I since sold the "non tender" boat, but I fully accept my guilt in the stupidity of allowing the boat to have too much sail up, and not to leave once I noticed that a storm was approaching. I'm quite grateful that the kids on board were safe. I learned much by this experience, and will never allow such a scene to happen again. Now that I am primarily an ocean sailer, I am way more cognisant of the dangers that the oncoming water has to offer.
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Old 23-12-2009, 08:11   #2
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Great story! Boy, those summer squalls really teach us sailors (the hard way) not to mess with mother nature.
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Old 23-12-2009, 09:35   #3
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It might've helped if the boat still had it's ballast. Nice story...
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Old 23-12-2009, 10:45   #4
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That missing bulb at the bottom probably supplied most of the righting.
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Old 23-12-2009, 11:39   #5
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It still righted itself w/o the bulb. Of course the mast was two feet shorter.
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Old 23-12-2009, 11:42   #6
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Not sure what a Cal 20 bulb weighs, but the remainder of the keel is quite a bit of ballast itself. The boat managed to come up with two hundred and fifty pounds of kids clinging to the cabin roof! The sails were both released which helped.
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