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Old 03-11-2011, 13:03   #16
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Had mercifully forgotten about our adventure years ago coming in to Barclay Sound off west coast of Vancouver Island about 2:00 am in about Force 8 westerlies in our old Ingrid 38. Dead tired after sailing down in heavy seas for over 24 hours. As we approached the entrance which is fairly broad, very foul keeping a close eye on the Cape Beale lighthouse which is color segmented, I thought I had our position scoped out with dead reckoning ( long before GPS and no radar aboard) when I suddenly spotted a long low set of breakers dead ahead with about 6 feet of rock shelf exposed between wave sets. Did a 180 hard over, fired up the engine and slammed throttle full ahead. Thank God for moonlight! Sorted out the mess on deck, redid our dead reckoning and approached again leaving the reef far to Starboard... scared the hell out me but everyone else aboard thought nothing of it. Good to remember events like this because it adds to a lifetime of experience and makes one very cautious and always have a backup plan... Capt Phil

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Old 03-11-2011, 13:34   #17
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Three trips that made me wish I was in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains sitting in front of a roaring fire:

1. Entry to Atlantic City from Newport RI. 1:00 am...winds NE 20-25...seas 6-8. Only crewmember was down and out with seasickness. Too exhausted to stay offshore until dawn and conditions worsening. I had made the entry several times during daylight and had the confidence to do it at night. Just before making the harbor I heard a loud noise and turned around and then up. A monster 20 foot breaking wave was about ready to flatten me. I thought I had gone out of the channel and was going to hit the bricks. The wave picked the boat up and I surfed at eighteen knots into the channel. Thought I was a goner. No lie, I kissed the ground.

2. Delivery from Daytona FL to BVI. Big problems with two crew members who I had been sailing with for many years. Crewmember 1 started freaking out about being offshore. I tried endlessly to get him to relax and enjoy the trip. At one point I had him throw out a fishing line to get his mind off things. First catch was a beautiful Mahi Mahi. It calmed him down considerably and he even cracked a beer. Two hours later another hit on the line.. while reeling in the second Mahi Mahi about ten feet from the boat a huge shark grabs it before his eyes. He's then convinced we're all going to die...
I caught the 2nd crewmember abusing painkillers and alcohol. I threw all the booze overboard. This guy was literally going crazy to the point where we almost tied him up. Made landfall in Puerto Rico and threw him off the boat. The other guy hugged a tree for an hour.

3. Delivery from BVI to St. Martin. Before leaving Roadtown I had a marina facilitate several repairs including a seacock replacement. When launching the boat I asked how the repair went. He said "Oh mon you din't need new seacock I fixed it". Being under time constraints I had to leave. At 2:00 am I went below to check our position. I stepped into knee deep water! A faulty bilge pump switch combined with a leaking seacock equals your a** in your throat. I removed the broken seacock and hammered in a wood plug.

I now have a portable electric bilge pump backup with it's own power supply. A high water bilge alarm which I test regularly. The seacock which broke was bronze.. it had cracked from overtightening by the yard. I never sailed with the two guys again.

Lessons learned? Be prepared for anything!

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Old 03-11-2011, 16:28   #18
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

1) Paying marina bills,
2) Getting aground and hitting an underwater obstacle all within 12 hours,
3) Getting knocked down and nearly rolled over.

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Old 04-11-2011, 04:53   #19
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

We spent 8 years building our yacht. Two days after we launched her, the area was hit by the worst storm in over 100 years. Police knocked on our door around midnight to tell us our boat was in trouble.
She was moored fore and aft and the bow line had chafed through so she was lying on her stern mooring, across the bow of the yacht behind us.
We were in a small boatharbour open to the ocean, and a huge surge was rolling in.
It was rough enough in the harbour to swamp the dinghy on the way out to the boat.
Spent the night freezing cold with the other boat plunging above us and crashing down on our cabin top and toe rail.
The wind was screeching like I had never heard it before, and other fore and aft moored yachts were heeling right over.
With daylight, when there was a lull in the wind corresponding with the top of the tide, I managed to drop the mooring and motor to the trawler basin, dodging the surfboard riders in the harbour!
The boat that we lay against had a foot diameter hole in her bow. We are steel, so a few minutes with a heavy hammer on the toe rail and all was well again.
Still have the same boat 25 yrs on and managed to remain friends with the people whose boat we trashed, but it was not a good start!
I learnt to be much more aware of what the weather is doing when we are away from the boat.
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:56   #20
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

We had dropped sail to negotiate a narrow, turning shallow area, it was blowing 45 knots ( confirmed by local weather) and on the nose. I saw two vessels ahead, one with everything she had flying. She was running. we had just exited the narrowest bit, when vessel closed on us and broached, she suddenly was aimed right for us at a great speed. I turned hard over, and still could have touched that sail boat twice as we barely cleared. I might add I also managed to miss the large rock pile! Once we were clear I said to my husband " ok you have to steer now, I am busy shaking for a minute." The other vessel was a tour boat, the captain doffed his cap to me on his way past! when I looked back the other sailboat had reduced his sail.
All ended well but it was certainly frightening at the time, seeing that thing racing towards us out of control.
Fair Winds
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:22   #21
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Good thing I'm in pretty deep into this sailing thing to easily get out as some of these stories are enough to make you change your mind!

While I've had so hairy things they all seem like comparing a papercut to a gunshot wound in light of some of the posts.
stop blowing smoke up my rear, blow it at the sails instead
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:33   #22
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pirate Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
Good thing I'm in pretty deep into this sailing thing to easily get out as some of these stories are enough to make you change your mind!

While I've had so hairy things they all seem like comparing a papercut to a gunshot wound in light of some of the posts.
Don..... relax this is just 20 posts out of how many thousands of members....??
Also... I'll refrain from posting mine... not in the mood for 'chest beating' today...
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:06   #23
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

My worst sailing experience was in calm water in the channel in Fort Lauderdale. A buddy of mine was living on an Irwin 52 and had spent months restoring it for his friend. The guy sailed with me often on my boat, and he would always be talking about what he was doing with the boat.

When he was nearing completion of the project, he took a group out for a sail. On the way to the 17th st. bridge in Fort Lauderdale, the group in the cockpit was laughing and enjoying the ride. I remember thinking how it is on my boat when I am at the helm and everyone is socializing, and they lose sight of the fact that we are a vessel in navigation. We were just nearing 15th street fisheries, which is on the canal that I had my boat.

SO all of a sudden I hear this awful groaning grinding noise. We are plowing right into the steel I beam that is the green flashing light navigational marker before the bridge. My instinct is to run and "fend off" so I run forward and see the teak cap rail just exploding as the I beam is rubbing down the side of the boat. The bow pulpit is crumpled into a ball. As I am halfway up there, the inner forestay snaps and whips up into the rest of the rigging which turned me around right in my tracks. Fend a 52 foot Irwin going 6knots? Not going to happen. The broken forestay could have cut me in half.

We end up sort of connected to the I beam and when the dust settles, we go up there to try to disconnect. The poor guy says to me "look the light is not flashing," but I notice it is because the battery from the light is laying on the deck complete with spilled acid on the newly polished stainless steel window frames. We got disconnected, and just then the bridge was opening up, and my buddy proceeded through as if to be handling it like "no big deal, we can still go sailing." The boat did have a plexiglass hardtop dodger, and he just didn't see the light straight in front of him.

The fallout was terrible. The guy's friend kicked him off the boat and the guy's wife was even more upset with him.

The moral of the story is that you can't be too careful. On my boat, I completely appreciate when people say, "do you see that boat, etc." From now on, one eye is always paying attention even if not on my boat.

I heard that a few months later the guy's friend went aground in the bahamas with the centerboard down. He forgot to raise it before the towboat pulled him from the stern off the reef and did some pretty good damage to the centerboard and the trunk.

There have been times at sea in brutal storms where I was cold, exhausted and even scared but that is, to me, part of the fun and adventure. Seeing this guys boat trashed for nothing more than carelessness on all of our parts was just terrible.
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:48   #24
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Picked up a crab trap that lockjed our prop on our bombay31. I had to jump into 51 degree water w no wetsuit to cut it off in 2-4' seas. Wife claims I was completly hypothermic and passed out for a few minutes and was a little blue looking.
I remember that after 2 minutes the water actualy felt warmer if not actuaslly hot. I was smart enough to tie a rope around me to keep me with the boat.
2. worst was stuck 22 miles from keywest going directly into a 20-25 knot headwind and 6-8' seas. it took us 24 hours to get to the NW chanel entrance. that Sucked.
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Old 08-11-2011, 13:14   #25
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Well the odd things that happen when sailing are what we all have to talk about at the bar or other gatherings later. The reality is, " I had a nice sail" is sort of the end of the story.
Fair winds
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Old 08-11-2011, 14:05   #26
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

I've never been in the bad stuff but here's my story and it was bad to me at the time. We were daysailing just outside of San Diego Bay in my friends Catalina 25. it was a typical SD summer day with light winds. A couple of military aircraft were flying around which is SOP for that area. Along comes this bigass twin blade troop carrier helicopter like a Chinook flying really low and right toward us. You guessed it, that prop wash layed us flat totally out of the blue and knocked both of us and our stuff into the sail. I did a half flip and landed on the boom. So we're getting back in the boat and she rights herself and damn near throws us out the other side. Cooler, beer and crap everywhere. I swear I heard the guys in that heli laughing. Do you think I could sue the government for my back problems today?
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Old 08-11-2011, 14:20   #27
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

This years Columbus Day Regatta in Biscayne Bay. Day started off kinda sporty.

We start the race and are leading off the starting mark with just reefed main and reefed genoa. We are making great speed in a a reach. Suddenly, wind starts dying and shifting dead astern. We go wing and wing (still somewhat reefed) to try and gain some ground on the downwind mark. After 15 minutes of this, noticing our boat is going faster and faster. We peak out at almost 8 knots and are thinking life is great. Should have known something was wrong.

All of a sudden, wind shifts 90 degrees to port. Boom absolutely *SCREAMS* over us...and crash gybe. Wind goes from 9-12 knots to over 25 knots in less than 5 seconds. We survive the gybe but are completely over canvased and start to dip the rail in the water. Boom goes in the water...genoa is soaked with water. Thankfully start to round up.

Now, wind instruments are reading 42 knots and in blinding rain. It looks like the waves are being torn apart and just white sheets of water come at us. Genoa is now flogging and we get knocked down again...and then round up.

I'm finally able to wrap the genoa, but can see serious damage to the sail. Once genoa is in, start to furl the main. Before I make my way to the winch for the roller furling main, I glance at the wind instruments....45 knots...*SUSTAINED*

After getting the sails furled, I call the race committee and withdraw, start up the engine and start making our way out to deeper water (we were being blown into the shallows on the west side of Biscayne Bay). As we make our way back to Dinner Key, we see carnage. Catamarans have capsized, committee boat and photography boat are circling people in the water...but they're in an area thats just too shallow for us to go and help. Have to keep going on.

We get to the Marina. A distance of only 2 miles, but took us over an hour with 30-40 knot winds on the nose and blinding rain. As we enter the basin, things just get calm, thank goodness. We dock the boat in gentle puffs, and just as I'm adjusting the spring line to get the boat to sit right in the slip and not crash into the concrete wall at the end of the slip...the wind shifts and picks up again....

This story ends with me lying on the finger dock holding a line with all my might trying to wrestle my 12000 lb Beneteau (dont ever let anyone tell you thats lightweight) and keep it off a concrete sea wall.

Got very sick that weekend and vowed to listen to weatherman forecasts. Not a few weeks later, they predict death and destruction for our Club Regatta and I dont show up. Glass calm, winds 8-10 from the West/Northwest. *UGH*
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Old 08-11-2011, 14:29   #28
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

i didnht reaally like sailing in lightning holding my skeerded kat---- but we lived thru it and continued onward---- i think so far that there isnt really a truly bad day ye return from or survive thru when on the water----but i havent lost a boat nor person from my boat yet, praying that doesnt happen..even chicken in thenight with a well lit up shrimper was nothing....mebbe losing a fish from my line and the lure coulda been tragic-- as we didnt catch any fish that day........mebbe being shipwrecked on a spoils bank in 41 kt wnds and 4 ft seas inside a protected bay-- but we lived thru that too-- and have stories to tell about them--- so , as i have stories, and i lived, isnt better than a good day in an office..LOL
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Old 08-11-2011, 15:13   #29
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

I've had a few non fun moments. There was one particulary nasty thunderstorm in front that arrived much earlier than NOAA predicted. Had lightning hitting the water around the boat and I fully expected to get hit at some point but, never did.

Another was running with gale winds coming back from New York with full sail back in 2001. It was a fun and scary ride at the same time. Fifty miles surfing down waves at 12 knots. Was not sure about reefing in such conditions and I was never able to leave the helm for fifty mile run. Lost the dingy about three miles from my destination. Tried to go back for it and almost broached. That was enough of that! So I just continued on. Now I reef early and often. Still wonder where that dingy ended up though.
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Old 08-11-2011, 15:26   #30
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Most of my scary times came when racing. Like the time the boat I was trimming mainsail on rammed another boat and dismasted her, crushing one of her crew between two hulls. Or the time another boat I was trimming spinnaker on rounded down, at which point the topping lift parted, the spinnaker pole broke through the lifelines, and four crew sitting on the rail were immediately dumped overboard.

cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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