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Old 16-12-2013, 09:01   #1
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Location: Navarre, FL
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Trial By Fire

Since I briefly mentioned it in another topic, I'll tell the story here. A couple years back, I had a dream about being a pirate. No joke, it was one of those hot sauce and liquor induced dreams you usually keep to yourself, but was tremendously vivid. And so it goes, I couldn't get it out of my head that I wanted to take a trip on a boat. The idea festered and the following March I was consumed with the idea.

I talked to a buddy about going in on a boat for a year just to get it out on the water and enjoy some fishing and cruising, but he didn't seem to interested. By the end of March, he was much the same way I was about the idea of sailing. Sure enough, the next weekend we found a sailboat, found a trailer, rented a truck and took a roadtrip for 13 hours to go pick up a 23' San Juan and bring it back to the Gulf of Mexico.

We had no idea what we were doing, much less how to sail, and we got extremely lucky in that the boat only needed a few small, superficial repairs.

We decided it'd be best to take a couple classes on sailing before actually setting sail (thank God), while our coworkers took bets on the severity of injuries we'd incur on any trip from the marina it was at to our, now, home marina.

The first class we sat through and learned as best we could, but proceeded to capsize on numerous occasions the sunfish they had set us up with. "No big deal," our instructors cooed, "There's no rush to learning."

The second class we were set up with a two-man (what I believe was called) American. We sailed for a time, and were pleasantly surprised with our improvement... until we tacked and yanked in the main to cut a quick turn around a buoy and lost our mast. No joke. The mast, sail, all the lines, and the footing (with some fiberglass) all took off without us, quickly followed by the capsizing of our second hull.

"That's strange," the instructors added, unsure about their previous assurance. "We haven't seen that happen before. But still, there's plenty of time to learn."

And so the following weekend we repainted our boat, dropped it in the water, seated the mast and set sail from Pensacola to Eglin AFB, unsure of sailing in it's entirety.

That evening a storm came on us from nowhere (actually, it was fairly obvious in hindsight; a pretty dumb oversight to not check the weather)! Shortly into the storm our starboard shrouds loosened, and one swung freely in the wind, in addition to this, the keel caught onto something in the water (which again, dumb oversight not checking maps prior to departure to see shallow areas and debris).

The irony of the situation was that between being caught and tossed around by the waves and wind, we knew what to do. Capsizing the boat so many times on the first day had my friend well aware enough of how to direct us to keep the boat steady while we circled. Losing the mast on the second day had it fresh in my mind how to fix the mast in this situation as well.

We let the main go luff, lowered the sail and tied it off, kept our turn to circle back around, and I scrambled along the starboard with my multitool and reattached the shroud and made them taught.

As soon as everything calmed, whatever had our keel let go. We raised the sail and cruised out the south side of the storm and on our merry way. In the year since then, we often tell newcomers on deck as to how we started our sailing ventures... and they never come back.

More fishing and beer for us, I suppose. Cheers everyone, hope you enjoyed.
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Old 16-12-2013, 09:13   #2
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Re: Trial By Fire

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, CaptainonaWhim.
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Old 17-12-2013, 07:42   #3
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Re: Trial By Fire

Thank ya kindly, GordMay. Hoping this place is a great source of information and experience to draw from.
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Old 17-12-2013, 07:55   #4
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Re: Trial By Fire

Welcome aboard. My first outing on a sailboat nearly ended up on the rocks and was towed back in, second, I got it caught in a tree, came back to the dock with leaves and branches all over the deck.
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Old 17-12-2013, 11:19   #5
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Welcome Captainonawhim, learn by doing is a fast way to learn. You will have lots more adventures. I was fortunate to learn to sail as a 6 year old from a neighbor who had a 21 foot center boarder. He was a retired WWII Admiral ( commanded the Battleship squadron on D-Day). He worked us kids hard but we had great fun and the lessons still work 60 years later. You will find many helpful and knowledgable folks here.
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Old 18-12-2013, 08:14   #6
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Re: Trial By Fire

Thank y'all for the warm welcome. I look forward to learning from y'all and sharing a lot more, though hopefully not in this subforum!
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