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Old 25-04-2013, 12:28   #121
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Hi Phillysailor,

Like Rakuflames said, only two kinds of sailors but in my opinion, both kinds have or will run aground.

And you handled the situation quite well so pat yourself on the back.

I do disagree with one thing. Maybe not a bad thing to learn on someone else's boat, as long as that someone isn't a close friend.

So, welcome to the Runaground Club. Anyone that really does any sailing has been there.
When I bought my first sailboat, the depth meter was broken, so I really gave myself a lot of leeway from shoal water and never ran aground. Six months later, I had it fixed and started sailing in shallower and shallower water, and ended up running aground over and over. "Look, it says 4' and we only draw 3.5. We're good."

I don't do it as much now, but it's because my boat is so big now, it is a major pain in the ass when it does happen and I try and be a lot more careful (and the last two times it happened was in the middle of the ICW coming from Miami to Key Largo, and in the middle of the channel going into Apalachicola.
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Old 25-04-2013, 13:02   #122
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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After reading about the worst sailing experiences of skilled and non-skilled alike I did a 360 deg. turnaround.
Well, judging from your understand of how the compass works, I'd say staying on land is a good call!

Sorry, couldn't resist. Welcome aboard, Francey! I agree with the others when I say 99 percent of the time it's nothing like you've imagined and the other 1 percent ain't that bad, either. Most of us who've been sailing for some time have one horrible experience (or, at least horrible in our own mind). Those odds aren't all that bad. I'm more frightened, more often on the highway.
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:05   #123
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Well, I'm a complete noob, happy to admit. After reading many of the previous posts, mine is pretty tame, but still qualifies as my worst experience.

We trailered my F28R from Missouri to Key Largo. That's a story in itself, but for another time. I had stupidly planned our trip from Largo to Key West to take two full days, then we had a hotel room in Key West for two days, then taking three days to return to Largo.. Stupid, Stupid Stupid. I had my family of 4 aboard the boat, both my sons are 6 footers, as am I. Not much room for us on board - sleeping is not easy.

We set up the boat at Gilbert's. Nice people there, but a biker convention was going on, and the wind was coming right down their little canal from the boat ramp, which was at 90 to the canal. 20 knots of wind... A nice fellow F28 owner, Bill Laurie was there and cautioned us not to go out yet, as we could easily put the boat on its beam ends before we could unfold with the wind as it was. We took a break and had some food, then, got the leeward ama unfolded quickly enough to get safely down the canal and cruising on the ICW. Prob. was, it was 5:30 pm, now, and we were waaaaaaaay behind sched. Sailed until 9 or so, aided by the moon and the torqeedo outboard. Thunderstorms approached, so we took shelter at Butternut Key and had a decent night, but minimal sleep, packed in like sardines with my huge kids...

Next morning, were delayed taking off by the remnants of the tstorms. got sailing at 9 am. Now we had to sail 94 miles to get to Key West Bight Marina.... Wind is 15-20 just off the nose. Boat points pretty well, so we put the daggerboard down enough to point and took off. We were maintaining 5-7 knots into the wind, which was faster than our outboard could take us, so we slogged forward. It was beautiful, mostly sunny and the gusts were not too bad. Wife and I had a beer and enjoyed the scenery, but I was worried about how we were going to get to Key West that evening.

Brilliantly, I suggested we drop through Channel Five Bridge and take Hawk Channel to KW, hoping for a better angle on the wind and more speed. My beautiful and intelligent wife muttered something about a small craft advisory, but I thought she was talking about the storms from the night before. She thought my dismissiveness was because our boat, at 28ft, was not a small craft.......

We got into Hawk Channel, speed rocketed up into the low teens for awhile and I thought we could make it to KW. Waves were 2-4 feet and choppy, but the boat punched along very well. After a few hours of this, winds racheted up to 25-27K and waves went to 4-6 feet.... Not so fun, speed was steady at around 10 knots. Waves coming over the bow a little, buried the leeward Ama a little, but the boat felt steady and unstressed. I reefed the main to the spreaders (boom roller reefing) and we dropped to 9-10 knots but boat action felt even better. Winds kept increasing and gusts were now pushing 30 knots. OK - I got scared.... We kept this up for an hour or so, then the wind died down to 15 knots and was a little more off the nose. I unreefed the main, sheeted in my jib and we shot back up into the low teens. Felt good. Wind then came back with a vengeance and cold air came with rain and gustier winds.

I went forward to reef the main, which hung up on a batten pocket and proceeded to tear loose the boltrope, preventing me from reefing. Uh Oh..... Sail would not move, under the wind load. Wave action was intense, all of us had offshore automatic vests on, and I was clipped in. Everybody else was hiding below.

Everybody scared now, lots of wave action, lots of spray, I let out the main and the jib to reduce sail area, but still crazy action. I started to look for a safe harbor to get into. If we lost rudder or steerage, we were going to Cuba...

I got into the mouth of Newfound Harbor, threw my fortress and bruce overboard and got some stability. Called for a tow, got towed further into the harbor to a supposedly good holding area and redeployed my two anchors.

Took a cab to KW, looked in the mirror and saw bruises all over me.. Wife and kids had thousand yard stares....

Took a day to recover, then went to get the trailer from Largo and went back to Newfound to retrieve the boat as this sailing trip was done without functional mainsail.

Boat was gone. Long story short, it had dragged both anchors after a wind shift and traveled a mile to the last little unnamed key before hawk channel. Stuck on a clay bar. 950.00 tow later and we were at Dolphin Marina in Little Torch key. Nice folks there.

Lessons learned. Never have a schedule. Never half-listen to your wife. Don't take a boat with minimal accommodations with your large kids. We did have some really good sailing, but I have never been so tired after a vacation. Good news is Wife has approved a bigger boat so we can comfortably sleep aboard!!!!!!
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:23   #124
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Good news is Wife has approved a bigger boat so we can comfortably sleep aboard!!!!!!
That was the plan, wasn't it?

Sounds like quite and adventure! Good luck finding the next boat.

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Old 09-05-2013, 07:45   #125
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Oh, yeah. a plan.. I like how you make it sound like I had two brain cells to rub together. I forgot to mention that I had checked the weather a number of times, but just missed the window during the night where they changed the weather to a SCA...

I am going to take my son out again on lake superior in july from Grand Portage to Isle Royale, then a slow circuit around the island.... Minimal time schedule and days of window before and afterward so that I can avoid weather.

Sail is now repaired, with 1/2" more space between boltrope and batten pocket. Thanks to Hunter at Schurr Sails!!!

We did have radio, three separate GPS sources and I had many hours in the boat on lakes in Missouri, which have surprisingly good sailing.....
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Old 09-05-2013, 08:17   #126
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Pirates!!! Oh yea ,they still exist, many own boatyards today.Once your boat is hauled you are totally at the mercy of their avarice and chicanery while your boat is held for ransom. These types are only too aware that you are without recourse once your craft is on the hard. In fairness there are many professionally run enterprises that do not view your plight as an opportunity to plunder. A life time of boating with groundings (many),collisions (2),storms (a few) ,theft (2) ,a dismasting or grumpy shipmates do not even come to mind when answering this thread ;it was all part of the game and fondly (almost ) remembered.Just good sea stories really . No its these pirates who have come closest to causing me to return to my carefree trailer/sailor days or taking up golf. Specifics upon request. Cheers!
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Old 09-05-2013, 08:59   #127
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Originally Posted by finleyg View Post
We kept this up for an hour or so, then the wind died down to 15 knots and was a little more off the nose. I unreefed the main, sheeted in my jib and we shot back up into the low teens. Felt good. Wind then came back with a vengeance and cold air came with rain and gustier winds.
This is a classic occurrence. I just had the privileged of attending Heavy Weather sailing seminar with Beth Leonard. It would be well advised to attend her seminar... I have attached her published handouts. She speaks specifically about when not to unreef and why.

Seminar Downloads
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:28   #128
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Pirates!!! Oh yea ,they still exist, many own boatyards today. Specifics upon request. Cheers!
Seriously, you would leave us hanging there ? Not cool!

REQUEST REQUEST !!!!!
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:05   #129
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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I came across the following clip,
and after viewing it after reading the 'Worst sailing experiences' I THEN
truly understood what the 'worst sailing experiences' were all about. Just ignore the big vessels, observe the sailboats AND the waves...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?featur...XxNZcXN3I&NR=1

Absolutely frightening, imagining my self out there on the ocean blue and encountering water like that and only having minimal experience.
Fortunately scenes like those are rare and can usually be avoided with a little care in watching weather predictions and planning accordingly.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:22   #130
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Lessons learned. Never have a schedule. Never half-listen to your wife. Don't take a boat with minimal accommodations with your large kids. We did have some really good sailing, but I have never been so tired after a vacation. Good news is Wife has approved a bigger boat so we can comfortably sleep aboard!
It's OK if you learn lessons one at a time in calmer circumstances but you did learn a lot.

Key Point:

The Admiral knows when the boat is too small!
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Old 09-05-2013, 14:19   #131
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Set up: Weather forecast, winds from the south 20 - 25, with gusts to 30, shifting to the west after noon. 2 - 4 ft seas. Worked on the boat at the dock, with a ridge between us and the wind during the morning. Re-wiring, so the cabin VHF removed. Cove where marina is faces west.

Wanted to test out how the boat handled with the new storm jib. Started the engine, bent on the storm jib and left the dock, but didn't check the handheld VHF to get an update on the weather. If I had, I would have noticed, "someone" removed the handheld from the boat. I would have also found out, the weather changed and new forecast was 30 - 35 with gusts to 45, the winds shifting to the east in the afternoon, then to the west in the evening.

As I approached the mouth of the cove, I knew the wind was a bit more brisk than I had thought and the seas were 4 - 6. Told the crew we would go ahead and sail under the storm jib with the engine running, if it was too rough, turn around and head for home.

We leave the cove, the crew, aka, my wife, doesn't mention she has a LOT of lee helm and can barely hold the westerly heading and I'm busy watching the wind speed climb through 30 and head north. Ok, we'll tack around and head back in. Tacking doesn't work as the engine has died and crew doesn’t know it…yet), so I tell her to gybe and we'll motor in. No problem with the gybe, but the engine won't re-start. We are now making a lot of leeway to the north and the crew keeps trying to point into the cove, which relatively speaking, is now heading south and puts us in irons... on a lee shore... with no engine and only a storm jib up. Anchor is NOT ready for deployment, so another gybe.

After several more gybes, two tests of the life lines (they held) by me, a split on the cabin top, I get the boat into a small bay with the anchor down and holding that should be protected when the wind shifts to the west, except it shifts to the east, and once again we find ourselves engineless, on a lee shore. So what is one to do? I go get a bottle of water (I wanted a beer or three), sit down in the cockpit, catch my breath and decide to call for a tow. No radio.

I finish my bottle of water and just for the heck of it, I try to start the engine, it re-starts first crank. Things are looking up. However, wife isn't strong enough to winch the anchor up against the wind, so I give her the helm and tell her to motor up to the anchor slowly, while I bring it onboard. She apparently overestimated the speed to which I could bring the anchor aboard and gives the engine full throttle, or close to it. We make several laps around the anchor, then I finally get the anchor off the bottom (another cabin top split that has me in the fetal position on the bow) and she is heading for home. However, the anchor still has at least 40 ft. of line out and now I’m more than a bit worried about fouling the prop. Finally the anchor is aboard and I make it back into the cockpit and take the helm.

Next I send the wife up to the bow to get the jib off, during that process she manages to let go of the jib halyard, which zips up to the mast head.

Well, we make it to the mouth of the cove and the engine dies again and won’t restart. I tell the wife to drop the anchor, she replies, which side. I run up to the bow, drop the anchor, verify it is set and head aft. Another bottle of water. I get the attention of a couple of fishermen and offer to pay them to take us to our slip, the captain declines the money citing karma, informs me this is the third time he has ever driven a boat. After only two approaches, I get a line to him and he tows us in. Just for laughs, I try the engine again, it starts on the first try.

There are way too many lessons learned here to list them all, but it should suffice to say I now have pre-underway check lists to ensure if something does go wrong, we are a bit more prepared. I will also ensure the competency of the crew at least matches the conditions in which I plan to sail.

This kind of goes along the old saying about "any landing you walk away from is a good landing". Any trip you return to port alive, the boat and marriage intact, must be a good sail.
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Old 09-05-2013, 14:23   #132
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

My worst day sailing beat my best day at the office.
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Old 09-05-2013, 14:36   #133
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

One other lesson, I reckon, from finleyg's great story, well told:

Boltrope-equipped sails can bite you where your tan isn't.

On any boat which may be involved with serious weather, boltropes and the associated grooves need to be ruggedly made to high quality standards and inspected and maintained carefully. Junctions in tracks and foils, and fasteners, are particularly prone to give problems.

In the case of a headsail which won't come down, you may be able to do a crude furl (if you find out before the weather gets too ugly) by sailing or motoring in circles (lots of circles!) while someone at the bow passes the bundled-up sheets around the headstay.

Otherwise you may need to send someone up the rig with a sharp knife (and/or preferably, for obvious reasons, a suitable set of sharp strong shears/snips) to slice the sail behind the boltrope. Not for the faint at heart.

Personally, I like slugs or cars (of course these, too, have to be superbly engineered and well maintained) on an offshore boat, except for serious racing.

Even roller headsails can be equipped with slugs.
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Old 09-05-2013, 15:34   #134
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Khagan:

You wrote, "I give her the helm and tell her to motor up to the anchor slowly, while I bring it on board." To me, this is one of those "easy when you say it fast," sorts of deals. Today, I could do that easily, but when we were learning to work together, Jim gave me lots of time on the helm for many jobs. We worked out hand signals ('cause it is the one at the bow who can see if the vessel is about to over-ride it's chain) for "go ahead," "neutral", and "go astern." Getting good at it requires thoughtful practice.

His job is to give the signals: respectively a motion to go forward, or astern delivered with his hand off to the side where I can see it. "Neutral" is signaled (for us) by the hand palm down, moving parallel to the deck. My job is to acknowledge the instruction, which I do by a brief loud whistle, which I can do while attending the steering and throttle.

Maybe you and your wife need to work out visual communications* that will work for you if it is too windy to hear voices clearly, that will be visible when the deck light is on as well as in the day time. Jim being able to signal me to stop the forward motion is useful to him, and would have helped you. It takes practicing before you can move the boat, under control, ahead dead slow, to just "inch up" on it. Usually the engine wants to move you too fast at idle, when it's calm; but when the wind is up, you have to use a reference point to tell whether you are moving through the water enough to get the chain and anchor back aboard.

* Other things we have hand signals for: "Kill the engine," "How deep is it?"
"Increase engine revs a little", "increase engine revs more", "set the anchor", "leave the anchorage", and "give it a brief burst", and I'll bet there are other long term cruisers who have more and different ones to ours.

Another thought I have is for your wife, if she is going to be the one on the helm most of the time when you get the anchor up, is to start teaching herself what the engine revs are for "ahead slow" in varying wind conditions. If you have no visible tachometer, she will be able to use the sound of the engine as a guide. Usually, she'll need only enough way on to keep control of the boat.

Hope this helps.

Today's misfortune is tomorrow's adventure, and any mistake that only hurts your ego is one from which you can learn, and no lasting harm done.

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Old 12-05-2013, 01:57   #135
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Cut yourself a LOT of slack (not rode!) on this. If you sail, you will go aground. It's a given.Only two sailors have never gone aground -- those who never leave the dock (although I was aground in a slip once) -- and liars.

It's not really funny, and it can be dangerous, and it can do damage, but you found the damage, so you did a GOOD job -- not a bad job.

Yes, it's a steep learning curve. You won't conquor that learning curve unless you get out there, and if you get out there, sooner or later you're going to run aground.
DH and I went to check out our boat after a huge thunderstorm swept through the area. At that time, we were in an older marina on a small creek off the Chesapeake. We found our boat "floating" in mud but miraculously upright. Other boats on our dock were on their sides. DH was able to get DOWN to the boat without any problems to check on things . . . not so easy to get back UP to the dock. He ended up climbing up a line. (Good thing it wasn't me -- I never did manage to learn to climb a rope in gym class!) Another time, we found the boat floating peacefully approximately where we'd left her, but no dock in sight. It was under water about a foot! Later, we learned that it's not so much about tides in our area, but about which way the wind blows.
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