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Old 02-11-2011, 23:47   #1
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What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Obviously sailing isn't always smooth and pleasant. Just ask a certain participant at this year's Cowes Week about playing chicken with a vessel somewhat larger than your own for example.

What has been the closest you have come to meeting your Maker, whether by a mistake/misjudgement on your part OR by Mother Nature deciding to randomly give you the proverbial kick up the backside just for fun? Also, and more importantly, how did you get out of it?

You never know. You may well save someone else's bacon should they find themselves in a similar situation. So think of this as an educational, not sensationalistic thread.
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Old 03-11-2011, 00:19   #2
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Nearly being run down by a freighter. It was 6am ish. Towards the end of my watch. every time we would change course, he would too. I was getting very peed off at him. And was ranting about aiming a red parachute at his bridge to wake him up. It wasnt untill we changed 90% then altered back a few minutes later that we saw the writing LPG (propane) on the side of the ship. A red flare mixed with a ship full of LPG may have taken me out at that distance.
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Old 03-11-2011, 04:36   #3
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Nearly being run down by a freighter. It was 6am ish. Towards the end of my watch. every time we would change course, he would too. I was getting very peed off at him. And was ranting about aiming a red parachute at his bridge to wake him up. It wasnt untill we changed 90% then altered back a few minutes later that we saw the writing LPG (propane) on the side of the ship. A red flare mixed with a ship full of LPG may have taken me out at that distance.
Actually we had a ship play chicken with us. It had come out of Townsville and I tacked 3 times, it altered course onto us. It finally ran over a waverider bouy near Cape Cleveland, missing us by about 50m. The Ship was the 'Alcam Calaca'. The harbourmaster was a yachty we knew so we reported it. The report came back that the ships' skipper signed over to the 3rd officer with the instructions to 'pass every vessel port to port'!!!! Yeah right. The 3rd officer had to report to AMSA [safety authority] and I dont know what happened after that.

It certainly freaked me out.

I take note of ships carefully now. I have seen some interesting things I would not call seamanlike.
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Old 03-11-2011, 05:46   #4
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

I was in an old engineless boat when a large black water spout formed about a mile from me and was comming my way. There had been very little wind and I really coulden't do anything. As the water spout got closer. the wind picked up and I took off in a direction 90 degrees from the path of the spout. By the time the spout was 1/2 mile away, my sails were as tight as drum heads and the boat was going faster than I thought possible. I was moving away but the water spout was still gaining on me. It was big and very scary! As it aproched to about 1/4 mile, it broke in half and dissipated (much to my relief). I could see fish falling out of the sky.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:32   #5
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Passage from Houston to Marco Island, FL. We got caught by a really fast moving cold front. High winds, big waves (10' - 12'). One of the crew lost his hand hold coming up the companionway, fell backwards and we thought he had broken his back. Called CG but told we had to wait until daylight. During the night a wave flooded the cockpit (batten boards were in place) and washed me overboard. I thought teather must have come unsnapped when it caught and slamed my face into the hull and broke my nose (better than drowning). Later that night forces against rudder were so great that the rudder quadrant broke (cable steering) and we lost the wheel. Autopilot had redundant quadrant attachment to the rudder post so we could still steer using the autopilot..., then the engine overheated and warped the heads. No more power. Finally morning came. CG called and told us that so many vessels were in trouble and since we were sailboat and still able to maneuver that we should just turn around and return to Galveston Bay where they would have commercial tow meet us. We did, got towed into dock. Ambulance came and got crew member (back not broken). Repowerd boat, built new quadrant out of stainless instead of bronze and am still sailing the same boat. That was 15 years ago. Learned a lot that night.

On more than one occasion I have told God that if he would just get me off this boat I would NEVER set foot on a boat again. He never has removed me and always, the sun has come back out, it turns back into beautiful weather and I remember why I love to sail. Sometimes I forget...
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:37   #6
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Originally Posted by ozskipper View Post
Nearly being run down by a freighter. It was 6am ish. Towards the end of my watch. every time we would change course, he would too. I was getting very peed off at him. And was ranting about aiming a red parachute at his bridge to wake him up. It wasnt untill we changed 90% then altered back a few minutes later that we saw the writing LPG (propane) on the side of the ship. A red flare mixed with a ship full of LPG may have taken me out at that distance.
Sounds like a typical radar-caused (near) collision.
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Old 03-11-2011, 11:18   #7
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

We almost had a very bad experence last month when we were up the Snake River and had been sailing for a week and were headed to go down the Lock at Ice Harbor Dam. Our disel lift pump quit right in front of the dam and left us a drift headed into the lock with another ship. We sputtered over to the side and immedately droped our dingy with our 2.5 hp on it and slid over to a buoy to find out what the problem was. Our hearts were pumping really fast because with no motor our boat would have had no chance in the lock and especially going down stream below the dam with it's 4 kt current and about 150 ft channel with rocks on both sides and barges. We were able to get replacement parts at NAPA the next day and finish our trip but would not want to do that again.
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Old 03-11-2011, 11:49   #8
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Mine just happened the other day on my first sail. One I will never forget...I went sailing on someone elses boat. Big beautiful wooden ketch rig. Every thing went beautiful until we got back to the ball and it was time for me, who happened to be 3 sheets to the wind drunk by this time, to get back in my dink and row back to my boat....long story short, I steped on the side of my dink and sank like a sack of potatoes! Lol the ice cold Pacific water sobered me right up. And I spent the next mourning hungover with a bucket bailing out my completely full dink. Lesson learned....leave the vodka on shore...lol
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:04   #9
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Arriving in Nassau in my Passport 47 I planned on staying at Nassau Club. They told me where my berth would be on the VHF and advised the tide/current was running 5 knots through the marina. I scoped out the situation as best I could and headed in between two long finger piers. The current was runnning between the two piers which were probably 3 boatlengths apart. Heading in, the current was running from my Starboard to my Port side, so I hung very close to the boats on my Starboard. It was like a river in there. When I turned, my boat went mostly sideways. I had to gun the diesel to the max to gain any steerage at all. By the time I entered the slip I was doing over 7 knots! All the dockhands yelled and headed away from the slip! I brought 'er in and gunned it max in reverse at the last minute. Stopped perfectly and one hand got a stern line cleated to stop the current pulling us forward. A real Capn Ron move! THANK YOU MAXPROP for a prop that passed the ultimate test in reverse!
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:25   #10
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

nothing is even close to as bad as having to replumb the head and holding tank 3 days out from St. Maarten. The most deeply unclean I have ever felt in my life. Succeeded in doing it without contaminating the bilge though!!

Replaced all hoses and valves after that. No more 20 year old marelon Y valves with handles that break off on my boat. Now we only have brand new marelon Y valves with iffy handles.
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:30   #11
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Arriving in Nassau in my Passport 47 I planned on staying at Nassau Club. They told me where my berth would be on the VHF and advised the tide/current was running 5 knots through the marina. I scoped out the situation as best I could and headed in between two long finger piers. The current was runnning between the two piers which were probably 3 boatlengths apart. Heading in, the current was running from my Starboard to my Port side, so I hung very close to the boats on my Starboard. It was like a river in there. When I turned, my boat went mostly sideways. I had to gun the diesel to the max to gain any steerage at all. By the time I entered the slip I was doing over 7 knots! All the dockhands yelled and headed away from the slip! I brought 'er in and gunned it max in reverse at the last minute. Stopped perfectly and one hand got a stern line cleated to stop the current pulling us forward. A real Capn Ron move! THANK YOU MAXPROP for a prop that passed the ultimate test in reverse!
So your worst sailing experience was pulling in like a champ in nasty conditions?
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:38   #12
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

Collision during a delivery. Good times, good times.

Non-sailing it was working on the sport fisher and having a deckhand get his finger ripped off his hand by the ground tackle flying off the bow.
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Old 03-11-2011, 13:02   #13
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

So your worst sailing experience was pulling in like a champ in nasty conditions?
Yeah.... well... it was scary. Hitting a row of boats broadside with a big heavy boat in 5 knots of current would have been an impossible situation to get out of. I got lucky. Sure, I've had my share of gales, hove to in beam seas so heavy that all normally leak free hatches are leaking. Sailing in fog by DR only, prior to GPS. etc. Something about almost ruining several other peoples day/ week/ month as well as my own makes this the scariest!
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Old 03-11-2011, 13:14   #14
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

hmm I have a list
probably the worst was a harness failure that left me bobbing 5 miles offshore with a life preserver for 6 hrs before a fishing boat picked me up was on a hobie

2nd would be engine failure while waiting for a drawbridge opening and getting sucked under the bridge by the tide and nearly losing the boat. Bridgetender was drunk in a bar at the end of he bridge

3rd would be getting caught in hurricane force winds in a 23' sloop which had the mast under water 3 times by being literally thrown by surfers dream waves outside egmont key shoals weathered storm behind egmont when we finally made it there.
Got same report from CG 12 maydays with people in the water. If were still floating no help available

4th running into rocks in crystal river and holing the boat which required beaching on an island to avoid sinking repaired at low tide had glass and tools on board luckily

I love sailing!
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Old 03-11-2011, 13:43   #15
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Re: What's Your Worst Sailing Experience ?

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nothing is even close to as bad as having to replumb the head and holding tank 3 days out from St. Maarten. The most deeply unclean I have ever felt in my life. Succeeded in doing it without contaminating the bilge though!!

Replaced all hoses and valves after that. No more 20 year old marelon Y valves with handles that break off on my boat. Now we only have brand new marelon Y valves with iffy handles.
Eww! Ick Sck!!
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