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Old 08-11-2011, 17:34   #31
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Another bad head story

Not exactly a sailing experience but certainly a boating related experience. Years back I owned a 36' Pacemaker that I occasionally chartered. A group took it for two weeks to the Bahamas and apparently stopped up the head sometime around 10-12 days into the cruise but continued to use it daily. Then crossing the Stream back to FL it got a bit rough, a couple of the crew got seasick and made further contributions to the toilet bowl.

So they get back to the marina, closed the boat up without any cleanup, in a very hot August, and left it cook, without notifying anyone about the mess.

Unfortunately I was out of town and didn't get to the boat until 2-3 weeks later. I could smell it before I even opened the door to the cabin. It took me most of the afternoon just to clean up worst of the mess which during the rough seas splashed all over the head and up the walls. To this day I don't know how I through the cleanup without barfing myself.

When I was done I went to the marina showers, washed up and threw the dirty clothes into the dumpster. I knew better than to even think about bringing the clothes home for washing.

I guess I don't need to add that they did not get their damage deposit back.
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Old 08-11-2011, 17:41   #32
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Losing my Dad overboard for 5 hours in a 2 handed ocean race.

Found him, no injury damage etc.

He had gone over whilst I was off watch, his harness was pulling him under so he cut it.

Would have been a lot worse but we had a system of tying a piece of knitting wool around the off watch toe/hand etc and around the on watch, as he went over I was pulled awake almost straight away.

Even that quick I lost him in the process of turning the boat around.
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Old 09-11-2011, 18:42   #33
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

I'm just a coastal sailor, so no harrowing stories here. Probably the closest one to "scary" was coming back in to Marina del Rey well after dark one glorious day. Having pulled into MDR about 1,000 times, I had a clear course set for the opening in the breakwater and was just tooling along as usual. Suddenly, my ears alerted me to "unusual ocean sounds" that I had not heard before while approaching the marina (ie. crashing waves). I peered into the darkness and realized that the "breakwater" that I was headed straight toward was actually an outcropping of rocks about a half mile north of the marina and just offshore in very thin water. I spun the boat on a dime and probably avoided a very expensive and embarrassing beaching. Since then, that rock outcropping is now known as Mikey del Rey by my buddies who were aboard that day.

Mike

PS - I would add that my worst experience sailing is still probably better than my best experience doing something else.
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Old 06-12-2011, 13:30   #34
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1 year after I purchased my boat I decided to go whale watching.

Good weather, calm morining, destination Palos Verdes Penesula's Point Vicente, springtime.

Motored out and spent the day becalmed in the penensula's wind shadow, with a big winter swell rolling in from the northwest and breaking on various reefs and rocks. I was not yet proficient with anchoring.

Suddenly, my vhf starts squeeling, "Low Battery" -

I'd left the inverter on, and run it flat. Now I didnt have a chartplotter, VHF, or autopilot.

No big deal - I'll just motor home.

So I started the outboard.

It ran for 5 miniutes, then died. When I tried to restart it, it wouldnt even turn over - it was siezed. There was still no wind, and set of the current was moving me closer and closer to the wreck of the "Dominator" a ship that had slammed into the point 30 years earlier, and who's bones I'd surveyed earlier.

I suddenly tasted dry metal in my mouth, and my vision narrowed to a tunnel. My fingers stopped working right, and I had the reasoning abilities of a 6 year old.

I felt nauseous - and I was alone.

There was a little - tiny little breeze, and I could see darker water a couple of miles offshore, so I crawled forward and bent on my 140 genoa, and started beating out, all the while being set inshore by the swell, tide and current.

After gaining about a mile of offing I tacked, but was unable to lay the mouth of the bay, as I was being headed in shore - so I came about, beat off shore, and tried again - to no avail -

I was in an eddy, and after 4 hours of this I'd made no progress.

and it was getting dark, and I didnt have any back-up navigation lights.

I knew I was in no "real" danger - (I still had my cell phone and was inshore) but I was still gripped with fear.

So I hove-to, and dug out my spare AGM battery pack, and jumped it into the main battery, determined to at least have nav lights when the sun went down (its a busy shipping area, with TWO of the worlds busiest ports, Long Beach and Los Angeles just a few miles south, and an offshore oil terminal to the North.

And I made a final bid to re-enter Santa Monica Bay by heading WAY out into the San Pedro channel before tacking.

...and as soon as I emerged from the wind shadow, I was knocked down by a building 15 knot sea breeze - with my 140 up.

Well, damed if I was going to heave-to and change sails - so I double reefed the main ( kinda pointless with that monster headsail up) and kept beating out into the channel, resolving to sail out to Catalina for the night if I had to, (and cross those shipping lanes) to avoid that diabolical point!

3 miles off I tacked again, and was just able to lay Palos Verdes Point safely, and re-enter the bay, where I knew the winds would back to the West, and allow me to reach back to Marina Del Rey.

darkness was approaching, and the wind and seas were building, so once clear, I hove-to, and crawled out on the foredeck, lowered the 140, and bent on the 110, leaving the 140 hanked on and lashed to the rail.

I was by this point tired, scared, and quite sea-sick from the building beam sea. The boat was rolling horribly (I hadnt the sense to rig my boom vang) but at least I was headed home, had nav lights, and was using my back-up hand held GPS (no spare batteries though) and ships compass and paper chart of the bay to navigate. I'm steering by hand, and the boat is moving along at 5 knots....meaning I'll be home in about 3 hours.

So I start to relax.....

and just then, I look to windward, and I cant believe what I'm seeing:

A freak wave at least 15 feet high is coming STRAIGHT AT THE SIDE OF MY BOAT!

and I mean, its a WAVE - not some wimpy sea with a little whitecap on top A MOTHERF**KING WAVE, BREAKING TOP TO BOTTOM, JUST LIKE I USED TO SURF AT THE GODDAMED BEACH!

And this is impossible, because I'm several miles offshore, in what I THOUGHT was deep water...

Never-the-less, here comes this breaking wave, and I've got to do something, or I'm gonna get rolled.

So, just like I used to do surfing, I turned towards the wave at a 45 degree angle, currled up into a little ball at the helm, and waited for impact.

BAM!!!

The wave smashed into the port bow, throwing a sheet of green and white water over me and the entire boat, and nearly washing the 140 off the foredeck.

Two or three more followed, but they were smaller, and I was past the point where they were jacking up. As you can imagine, I was really freaking out at this point, so I decided to try to start the engine again, whereupon I discovered why it had quit:

I'd neglected to open the outboard tank vent.

The reason it wouldnt start was becuase I'd left it in gear, and the interlock kept it from turning over - it hand really siezed.

I made it home safely, and set-about making sure nothing like that ever happened again.

I upgraded my battery to a Lifeline AGM from the cheap West Marine wetcel I'd been abusing. I installed a good smart charger, and I purchased a back-up set of Navigation lights. I started carefully monitoring battery voltage, and I installed a solar panel (the outboard didnt have an alternator) for off grid charging. I got serious about my ground tackle, and started practicing with it.

Still, the mystery remained:

WHERE THE HELL DID THAT WAVE COME FROM????

So I took out my charts, both electronic and paper, and began studying the bathemetry:

and about 3 miles off of Palos Verdes point, along the rhumbline course to MDR lies a small shoal area with a depth of around 90 feet. and this shoal is right against the edge of 1600 foot deep Redondo Canyon, which funnels wave energy towards Redondo beach, resulting in waves like this:

http://www.easyreadernews.com/40762/big-wave-challenge/

Yup - a world class big wave surf contest is held each winter in the south bay - right where I was nailed.

So I learned a couple things -

1) Nature is always in charge out there, and anything can happen at any time. Pay attention, and show respect.

2) Have multiple backups for critical systems

3) Study the bathemetry CAREFULLY along your planned course.

That 90 foot deep shoal is surrounded by water hundreds of feet to over 1000 feet deep. Its easy to miss - just one sounding shows that depth in Navionics. Avoid such areas - they can cause waves to "jack-up" and break. a couple of months after my adventure there, an experienced offshore sailor, John Kerchbaum was lost overboard and killed on the way back from Catalina. He'd set out in a gale with force 9 winds. But hey! It was only a 20 mile crossing, then he'd be in the safety of Santa Monica bay, and besides, he had to be at work on Monday.

His boat sailed itself right up on Venice Beach under windvane, sails reefed and perfectly trimmed, but without John. A massive search failed to find him. His body was found off long beach a few days later - in its life jacket. He made the turn off of Palos Verdes point, just as I had according to his GPS log, so he was still aboard at that point. His trak would have taken him over that same shoal - so I'm gussing that's where he was hit and washed overboard, then swept by that current I was fighting all the way to its back-eddy off of Point Ferman and Long Beach. Without a radio or PLB, it was impossible for SAR to locate him, especially under those awful conditions, and the cold water probably rendered him unconcious within one or two hours.

Another solo sailor was lost off redondo beach a few months later after his boat sailed itself ashore. His body was found 2 miles out.

Conditions were calm when he was lost.

Now I always clip into a rock climbing harness on deck when I'm alone, and I carry both a PLB and a waterproof handheld VHF on my person.

The sea demands respect, and its lessons can be harsh when we ignore this simple fact.

Since that eventful day, things have gone much much better for Nomad. I've made many crossings of the San Pedro channel and its shipping lanes, and Ive anchored for weeks at a time at Catalina and other spots around the bay without incident, logging thousands of trouble free miles in the process.

Lesson learned.
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Old 06-12-2011, 14:09   #35
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Excellent recount, Hogan... many lessons to be learned. Thanks for sharing it. Capt Phil
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Old 06-12-2011, 15:05   #36
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

My worst sailing experience of late was on Nov 7. That's the day I moved the boat from my mooring to the marina to be hauled out for the winter.
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Old 06-12-2011, 18:27   #37
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Hogan:

Good post and good lesson for all of us to remember. It's not just what's happening on the surface and above that we need to be aware of. But, also what's happening below the boats too. Not to mention to always check and open those vent caps on fuel tanks. Been there done that. Though the first time is the scariest because you don't know why the engine died all of a sudden.
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Old 10-12-2011, 00:19   #38
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Oh goodness... this thread now has me fearful of doing any sailing any time soon... and I only thought that I had a few harrowing sailing experiences of my own to share... but they all now seem to pale in comparison with whats all been posted here. I suppose that's a good thing... YIKES nevertheless.
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Old 10-12-2011, 04:15   #39
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Dragging in over 50k ( I stopped looking after I saw 64K) in the middle of the night off the coast of Scilly. Seeing a friends boat anchored next to us also drag and watching them hit and sink 2 fishing boats and we were not in a position to help until later.
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Old 10-12-2011, 05:00   #40
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I've posted this before and it is still my stupidest sailor trick ever about 3 years ago. The attached chartlet might help.

Wind was southwest at maybe 10 knots. I was sailing southeast from Calder to Red Calder leave Malang to port then turn right towards angler and head home on a run. At that point the reclamation area was only the solid black line. They recently expanded it.

As you can tell I was close hauled. Sailing was great!

We had been to Malaysia for the weekend in a couple of boats. I took the boys back with me little later than the first boat so they could get some more pool time. My 10 y/o and a friends 12 y/o. Boys like to sit at the pulpit. They get to watch the bow slilce the waves and occasionally get splashed. Due to my excellent trip planning I was on an incoming tide which would flow up angler channel at 2 knots ulitmately.

The boys had no pfds on and were not clipped on. It was a fine day with calm seas but that was changing.

I hadn't noticed the wind building or the thunderstorm building right in front of me to the southwest. I was also getting set towards the brreakwater but thought I could make the corner without a tack. Soon the water wash slamming the breakwater for the reclamation area and backwashing. The bow was starting to pitch good and the boys were laughing and getting wet. When boys are having fun there is danger afoot, Will Robinson! I was having fun too. Second warning.

Then it happened. The bow buried and the boys disappeared for what seemed a minute but was only a couple of seconds. My son was splayed face down across the bow holding the pulpit rail with his feet in the water. Holy crap! He hauled himself up in a second, still laughing. I immediately called them back under protest, they donned vests and were restricted to the cockpit.

Seas were now about 4-5 feet and pretty mixed up due to the breakwater grtting slammed by that excellet trip planning current. Wind was probably 20 by now.

I then tacked away from the breakwater, furled the 150 genny to about 80 percent. 100 meters from the breakwater I was just rolling over the sea and with less sail there was less heel. We got a little rain but never really penetrated the storm that raged to our south.

5-10 minutes later I made the corner. On the run things were competely calm and I unfurled the genny.

Bad things
- didn't assess the building conditions
- didn't clue in that a storm to the southwest in southwest winds is heading for me - reef a hell of a lot sooner and shoulda reefed the main too
- did not rercognize the significant influence of the breakwater in incoming current - calmer water 100 meters away - shoulda tacked sooner
- didn't bring the boys back soon enough
- didn't pfd them soon enough
- didn't pfd myself at all - what if I went over?
- had my boy gone over it would have been a very difficult retrieve even though he is a good swimmer

Good things
- autopilot relieved me while I sorted boys and genny
- genny furler made shorting the sail a 10 second exercise
- my boy has a grip like a monkey
- my boy never told his mom!
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Old 10-12-2011, 10:22   #41
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Dragging in over 50k ( I stopped looking after I saw 64K) in the middle of the night off the coast of Scilly. Seeing a friends boat anchored next to us also drag and watching them hit and sink 2 fishing boats and we were not in a position to help until later.
50,000? That IS blowy.
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Old 10-12-2011, 21:04   #42
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

I've had a few pucker experiences but I'd have to say the worst sailing experience was the Chicago Mac race three years ago. It was the slowest running the the race in something like 35 years. There where 3 dead calm periods lasting 8 hours. It was hot and the black flies where thick enough they would fly up your nostril. I laid on the deck of that boat for 3 days watching a speck of flotsam drift next to me. The start and end where exciting but the middle - pure hell. I did enjoy the company and we had some laughs, but wow. The stench - I must have smelled like that backed up toilet left to simmer for weeks on end. You know you really stink when the smell of you makes you almost puke.
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Old 11-12-2011, 17:23   #43
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Quote:
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I've had a few pucker experiences but I'd have to say the worst sailing experience was the Chicago Mac race three years ago. It was the slowest running the the race in something like 35 years. There where 3 dead calm periods lasting 8 hours. It was hot and the black flies where thick enough they would fly up your nostril. I laid on the deck of that boat for 3 days watching a speck of flotsam drift next to me. The start and end where exciting but the middle - pure hell. I did enjoy the company and we had some laughs, but wow. The stench - I must have smelled like that backed up toilet left to simmer for weeks on end. You know you really stink when the smell of you makes you almost puke.
Around here we get lots of races with "bald" spots. New "cruiser racers" always ask after only 10 minutes of floating, "so do we fire up the engine now?"

Hats off to you man. The longest I've drifted is 3 hours and I thought that was hell.

I've been sailing with a fairly new skipper the past few weeks. His boat is a higher handicapper and in club races he always seemed to bail out in the calms. On the first passage race we got stuck. The wife said, "well that's it. Let's go.". And it became clear to me.

Because he had sorted invited me along to share experience he turned to me and asked, "what do you think?" Ah, I see said the blind man. He wants a mediator! Danger for me!

We had about 6-7 miles to go and a favorable current. I joked and said, "We have no wind but we have the two other things essential to racing. Beer and 3 hours left on the race clock!"

About 30 minutes later I noticed a dark cloud building behind us and had guessed the brewing squall had sucked out all the close by energy. I saw a few ripples coming from astern and said, "whistling on a boat is bad luck because it is said to bring strong winds, but in this case it might help." so I started whisltling and sure enough the sails filled and we were soon doing 3 knots.

I was lucky but man for about 20 minutes I was deemed to be the smartest guy around. Of course the squall caught us, we got rained on and after the squall we drifted again for 30 minutes but I enjoyed my moment.

We ended up finishing with like 30 minutes (and 2 beers) to spare and got a respectable 4th of 9 with 2 dnf. The "race" boats cleaned up as they take way more advantage of puffs and light airs.

Afterwards I said, "It's your boat and you can quit whenever you like. It is also a series race and we turned 10 points into 4. In the future if you ask me about quitting I will always opt to keep racing until the time is up and the race is over. If the race committee had shortened the course and they have in the past our 4 coulda been a 2. Ya never know."
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Old 11-12-2011, 18:23   #44
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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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.
As Bash just verified….. being at sea with racing mentality crew….scares the hell out of me!
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Old 11-12-2011, 18:58   #45
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As Bash just verified….. being at sea with racing mentality crew….scares the hell out of me!
This wasn't scary but a good example of stuff happens.

All boats on starbord tack. We were on a First 40.7 @ about 8 knots, on our quarter a bit downwind one of our arch enemies. Almost immediately in front of us a J24 and we were closing fast.

The problem is were were all headed to a rocky shore and we all wanted to get close to it. The J24 maybe never saw us coming and never called for water. We tacked right on top of the J when we saw them preparing to tack. We just started to settle in when we heard an almighty crash. The J tacked right in front of the boat following us and got speared on their starboard quarter.

I looked back and the young J skipper had eyes as big as saucers. I realized he was probably not the most experienced and looked to be in a bit of shock. The bad news is he was no longer actively helming and he was coming down on top of us! I shouted up, up, up until he clued in and in a couple of seconds we left the mayhem behind us.

Tactically we had briefly discussed how to use the J to our advantage to scrub the guy on our tail off but none of us anticipated the "wonderful gift" of a collision!

Yeah, racing is a bit crazy...
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