Happened half a life-time ago:
My 1st time alone in deep water
In the Tasman Sea, approaching the S.E. corner of Australia
Wet, cold, insecure, fearful *the typical 'solo' things*
Every book I had read told me that "a newbie on the sextant
will NOT take accurate sights".
So, when I saw the deeper blue of LAND appear on the North west horizon, I wanted this to be Gabo Island. And so, despite my noon sight putting me further south, I decided it was indeed Gabo Island. I had not yet learnt that 'living_in_reality" dictates that I must accept where I am, (emotionally, financially GEOgraphically!), and that my 'wishes have less than nothing to do with it.
Gabo Island has a large powerful light, visible 26 mile, Group flashing 2, 16 seconds. Thus, as the sun went down I confirmed: indeed Group flashing 2. Thus I am where I want to be. With the large swell, counting the 'dark' period was difficult to impossible. I put that off until "later".
The Gabo Island light has a 'red' that becomes visible at 12 mile, giving vessels clear warning and the ability to 'stay off' as they 'round the corner' and head
I sailed on closehauled in the dark, simply waiting for that 'red' to become visible. Tho it seemed to be taking forever, I sailed on happily .
Until I realised I seemed to looking UP at the light. I lept out of my cockpit
seat, searching forward and upward... breaking waves ahead, CLOSE. The light was indeed above me.
Oh my God! reefs
breaking to my left, reefs
breaking to my right: Rocks ahead!
A gybe and backtrack on the only path I knew had no rocks: the one that I'd come in on.
I sailed back in the dark and stood off some miles out, awaiting dawn.
I wondered "What has gone wrong here"? Hmmmm.
I fell victim to another Solo error: having no-one to challenge me, I believed my own thinking.
Looking back it seems almost inconceivable to me now... I decided that the problem here is ...."the Australian government
has not been looking after their lights properly: That red sector must be broken!"
And so with the coming of light I sailed slowly back to shore, staying a ways off....sailing slowly close-hauled north with a gentle breeze.
Deeply puzzled. The pilot talks of deep water
I could see sand dunes and the swell seemed affected by a bottom near.
It is difficult to describe the experience of that morning: nothing I could see matched 'reality'. I felt deeply disconcerted, afraid, angry at 'the world'.
Until ahead I saw breakers reaching out to sea,
reaching a LONG way out to see...
and as I turned east to avoid them, the waters around me became like nothing I had experienced before: with a gentle breeze of only 7-10 knots, the small swell was suddenly 'peaking' and breaking, from the left and the right??
One jumped on-board from behind
, smashing loose the lashings of my dinghy
and dropping it into the sea beside me, dragging alongside by it's painter. I needed that dinghy
, I'd built it my self. For one mad moment I considered jumping in to 'rescue it'.
That thought passed as I realised the danger
The next wave simply took that dinghy from me.
I sailed South east and away from the coast, heading for the safety
of deep water.
Although much of this is embarrasing for me, looking back I cannot believe how long it took for me to sit down with the facts.
My sights put me at this latitude.
At this latitude is .....
Cape Barren Island, with a light Gp flashing 2 and a dark period of 8 seconds (no red sector). I had looked at that light long enough to know it had a dark period og 8 seconds.
So if I was approaching Cape Barren,
then ... the coast would be sandy and
the Pot Boil would be 5/6 mile north... a notorious area of tidal rips and overfalls.
Accepting finally where I was, I headed back to sea, and landed safely in Sydney
some days later.