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Old 16-02-2019, 13:17   #16
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Re: Post your story of sails saving the day

Motoring into the wind for quite a while, the engine overheated at sea. Raised the sails, changed course, and cruised into port for repairs. Could have been towed in, but it would have been an unpleasant time waiting for someone to come get us and rough ride in being towed.

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Old 16-02-2019, 16:25   #17
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Re: Post your story of sails saving the day

This is a great thread. I feel good seamanship means you need to be ready. As mentioned previously, sails should be ready to go. Before departing the slip, once engine warmed up, etc., Sail cover comes off, main halyard goes on, and leave 2-3 sail ties on. Sails are ready if emergency departing marina. After all, you have to do these tasks later before you can sail anyway.

When returning, halyard stays on, with a few sail ties. Sail is still ready to go. Like the engine, which should not be shut off before vessel secured in slip, sails should still available.

There are many who do not do this. Also, believe in stern anchors for emergency.

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Old 16-02-2019, 18:14   #18
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Re: Post your story of sails saving the day

I feel anxious motoring a sailboat without a halyard on the main. Ive had too many engine and transmission failures over the years.
Spent Weeks sailing to and from anchor.
Had gas dripping from carb to bilge and been unwilling to start engine. Busted transmissions. All the usual disasters.
Learn to sail to and from anchor, mooring, and dock. Its a super satisfying and comfortable set of boat handling skills to have.
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Old 17-02-2019, 06:01   #19
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Re: Post your story of sails saving the day

Way back when I sailed other people's boats ( much cheaper) on a club members new old boat, leaving 3 mile Harbor Ny's narrow channel the engine dies. It's blowing 15 knots on the beam. Ahhh! I get the furling main out enough to sail into Gardner's Bay. He was out of fuel got 5 gallons bleeding injectors the battery bank fails. Connectors loose and gauled cut one batt out of bank reconnect start engine. Had a great weekend and sail back to Groton.
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Old 17-02-2019, 07:25   #20
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Re: Post your story of sails saving the day

Coming into Masonboro inlet, just inside the entrance, the engine quits. I had the genoa out, so I just sailed through onto the ICW, and sailed a good ways south before anchoring at a likely spot. I always come into inlets with some sail if possible, and have an anchor ready to deploy.
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Old 17-02-2019, 12:18   #21
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Re: Post your story of sails saving the day

Does towing fishing boats back into harbor under sail count? I have six of those "saves."

I learned to fly before I learned to sail. As with most student pilots, I started with single-engine airplanes. One lesson that was repeatedly drilled into my student mind was: "Never trust your life to an engine!" While flying en route, that lesson: "engines do fail," was constantly reinforced by the question: "Were would you land now if the engine quit?" Half my student landings were made with the engine idled upon entering the traffic pattern. Touching the throttle constituted a botched landing and a mandatory go around. By the time I had my Private Pilot cert., I'd made over a hundred power-off landings. Since then, I've had three complete engine failures: one when the engine swallowed a valve followed by "dynamic disassembly" of the engine, another when the fuel mixture adjustment failed at altitude with a lean setting, and a third from a leaky intake valve (while towing a glider). Each was a non-event because of all that early foundational practice.

The same lesson should be stressed with student sailors (and we're all students to some extent): engines do fail. Even engines that are maintained by federally licensed professional mechanics.

Visit any busy general aviation airport on a Saturday, and you'll see pilots practicing landings, over and over again. How many sailors do that? How many accidents happen during docking and undocking? How many sailors routinely practice docking without using the engine? How many even know how to take in their mainsail without using their engine to power into the wind? (Hint: try heaving to, but your experience might not be optimal if you have a mast-furled main.)

Other parts of the power train fail too. Just a few moths ago, at Pillar Point Harbor, the skipper of a Boston Whaler powered in fast to his slip (his usual practice) and then shifted to reverse to effect a power stop. Oops. No reverse. Only neutral. He and his vessel went up over the dock into a slip on the other side (amazingly, it was empty). In 2013, racers ran aground on San Clemente Island (Southern California), with one fatality, when their rudder failed. Their engine was running and they only needed to steer in any direction other than downwind toward the rocks alee. They tried everything to attain steerage: dragging bilge covers, etc. -- except dousing their jib, centering their boom, and hauling their main in tight amidships so it could act as an "air rudder" in the moderate wind. I used that technique once to motor upwind 200 miles when my autopilot failed. Use the traveler for fine steering commands.

And then there's the anchor. The sailor's emergency brake. Can you deploy it, in an engine-out emergency, in a crowded harbor, before hitting something? I have one in my stern locker, and I have crew who can attest that I can fling it over the side in less than 30 seconds when my engine quits. I've had to. There are no swells to contend with in my harbor - so anchoring by the stern is perfectly acceptable. Most sailboats I've sailed naturally align themselves stern-to-the-wind, so anchoring by the bow entails a boat-length swing after the anchor sets. That might be too much swing to avoid a collision.

I'm sure the Coast Guard here must become rather exasperated having to repeatedly ask: "Do you have an anchor?" in response to distress calls in the S.F. Bay. Here's an example:


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