A stationary high had lingered in southern Mexico
for several days. It created strong breezes and we decided on a few days cruise
around Corpus Christi Bay. We first headed toward Port Aransas. We spent two days at anchor
in the lee of the barrier island while we did boat chores that are easier done away from a dock
We moved our 38 foot sailboat to a new anchorage in a pretty cove and enjoyed swimming and grilling fish
and just relaxing for two more days. Then we pulled the anchor
up and started the down wind
run back to Corpus Christi Marina.
started to build and I partially furled the foresail. The boat was going about six and a half knots and the relative wind was in the mid twenties from about 25 degrees off our stern. I was thinking about reefing the main. You know what they say, “When you first think about reefing it is time to reef!”
The next events
are a little hazy. I was on the port side holding onto the Genoa
sheet and attempting to wrap it around the winch
when a really strong gust and/or a really big wave rolled us to starboard and yanked the sheet from my grip. I remember flying backward through the air. The small of my back hit the opposite cockpit
seat. My hips and legs headed towards the cockpit
floor and my head
bounced off of the starboard cap rail as my body whip sawed backwards.
My wife says that I did not get knocked out. I remember thinking, “I have just broken my back!” I looked forward and our partially furled Ginny and fore-stay was flailing around ahead of the boat. I hollered, “Hold her headed downwind.” I crawled forward and had her turn somewhat into the wind. I had a lot of trouble getting a line on the fore-stay. I got knocked around a lot but I got a line around the stay just above the furling
drum. There was no way I could control it by hand but I got the line on a winch
and pulled the fore-stay back to the bow pulpit.
Then I took a rest. I mostly hurt all over. I was amazed that my back was not broken. I attached the baby stay and ran the spiniker halyard
to the bow and tightened both of them up. The partial
was still whipping itself to death. I went forward again and wrestled the sheets
around the mast
and tied them as my wife headed us up and then resumed downwind after they were secure.
We sailed until we were ready to enter the marina. I dropped the mainlsail and kinda bunched it up on the boom and got a couple of sail ties around it.
We motored into the marina. I knew that we could not dock
it in this wind. I remembered that there was deep water
and some sturdy cleats
by Joe's Crab Shack and the seawall was close to being aligned with the wind. I did a u-turn when near the place I had in mind. I put it into reverse and full power almost stopped the boat's forward, downwind motion. The boat angled toward the concrete wall.
At this point I have to compliment the staff of Corpus Christi Municipal Marina. They saw that I was in trouble a came running to help. About the time I was getting the stern mooring
line cleated off the lines holding the fore-stay parted and it went to flailing about again.
They secured the fore-stay to a steel
post. A rigger came to help and went up in his bosun's chair and cut the ripped sail loose and men
on the ground pulled it down. A captain
berthed nearby brought me some extra fenders. Thanks everybody! They said that we had gale force winds a little while ago.
We got out of the emergency
room about two am. They were more concerned about the blows to my head
than anything. They x-rayed my skull, my neck, and my back. I have lumps and bruises but no bad injuries. They say that wearing my PFD
saved my back!
So, when the weather
is bad wear your PFD!