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Old 09-05-2015, 21:30   #1
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What was your most scariest boating moment.

Inspired by another recent thread where some one mentioned they were a bit scared I thought I would throw this open as it maybe an interesting read to hear other peoples white knuckle moments.

I have one story but it concerns an old fletcher arrow speedboat I had when I worked in the middle east many moons ago in Qatar.

There is an offshore island - Probably about 4 - 5 miles out that we used to go to on Fridays. Anyway, on one particular occasion a few of my friends (about 8 or 9) decided to camp on this island over night. Took me three trips and back to get there with all the camping gear.

Anyway to cut the first part of the story short having discovered the Island was infested with rats at dusk we decided to abort the camp but because no one wanted to be left behind I decided to leave all the camping gear behind and pick it up the day and take everybody back in one shuttle.

The next day I and a friend took the boat out but there was a bit of blow and within 5 mins I recognised it would be too dangerous to try to get to the main island so we diverted to this smaller island just offshore to wait out the weather. We waited probably about 3 hours and I think we got used to the weather and even though in reality it had probably got a bit worse we decided to tip toe to this island.

On route it got quite bad. The seas were quite high, the bilge pump was doing overtime and when standing(semi sitting in the back of the seat) the wave tops were probably about 4 foot or more high level with my head and not ideal for water skiing(Looked higher but will stay modest) However I was managing ok heading into the on coming seas at a slight angle to soften the impact slowed the revs before the peak and rolled over the top instead of slamming the other side.. I was quite impressed with myself.

Anyway, when I arrived at the island I left the motor running and anchored a little way out and then began to ferry all the camping gear back to the boat. On the last trip I noticed the boat had slipped a little and was over some hard ground banging itself to destruction with the wave action. The engine had cut also so pulled it back to some deeper water and was a bit hesitant to turn the engine to reveal it would not start but all was ok so trimmed the engine fully back into the water, pulled the anchor and set off for the journey home. This is where it started to get interesting.

Running with the waves I thought would be easy but it was much harder to control the boat at low speed. I was trying to stay between a wave set but kept getting washed over from the back. The boat was was little bit lower than usual because of all the stuff and this stuff which included a ton of sleeping bags and blankets became some what of a sponge. It became worse of course as the boat took on more water and then it dawned on me that I could not hear something that I should be able to. The bilge pump was not working either.(It must have broke when the boat was slamming) The floor was just awash and when we went down a wave I even had to try and blip the revs to stop the water running forward by getting the boat to pull away from the wave but kinda land parallel or at a lesser angle ahead of the wave. Like an extra heave from the engine I guess.

Everything got chucked over the side.. Anchor also. It became very very scary and I could not believe just how much water could come over the back. My mate had kept back one of ice coolers to bail and also to try and defend the rear a little. I said to my mate that I think if we continue we are going to get washed away and that we should try to turn around and go back to the island rather than let fate decide when we become a submarine. I did not want to turn around because there was not much room between the waves and with this sloshing weight it was a high risk thing to do on a speed boat. I made sure the cut out chord was on my wrist in case we flipped(we also made a little plan about swimming back as I remember) and as I sat low in the chair thinking the turn through an idea came to my mind. Bing!

I elevated the outboard so that it was on it's maximum and then shifted the throttle forward which lifted the nose all the way out of the water and managed to get some self bailing action going at the same time. My mate went to the back and was able to start getting rid of some concentrated puddles at the rear. Guess what? The bilge pump cut in. In the space of 5 minutes we had gone from being white and petrified to a state of euphoria. We just could not stop laughing as we wheelied the boat home. The boat really handled well in that unconventional position down wind as well. I was amazed! but we did get back (minus all the camping gear) in one piece.
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Old 11-05-2015, 12:50   #2
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

Went on a fishing trip on a 35' Bertram to the Gulf Stream off Beaufort, NC, encountered a thunderstorm that blew up from nowhere. Lots of lightening, which was scarey enough, but the waterspout was more than enough to get everyone's attention. The waterspout stayed off shore, we didn't.

Stay safe, my friends.
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Old 11-05-2015, 12:59   #3
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

From the Tampa Bay area to Apalachicola in the middle of the night in 10 foot seas in my 40 foot trawler. 20 hour trip, left in daylight and wanted to arrive in daylight.
Waited for forecast of 1-3 foot seas and took of about mid day. Wind came up and so did the seas.
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Old 11-05-2015, 15:42   #4
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

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Originally Posted by paulanthony View Post
Could you elaborate on what was scaring you? You say she is heavy, is it that she takes time for the buoyancy to overcome her inertia in a trough? or something else...

Would be very interested to know.

HPEER

It was 2am, 49° N, 20 miles off shore. The anemometer read 26 knots, but clearly it was blowing MUCH stronger, the anemometer read 26 no matter what, the wind generator sounded like a C-130 taking off, she was healing 30° and riding with the port rail in the water, the reef blew out of the staysail and I was a bit over canvassed with one reef in the main.

Had someone been with me I would have gone on the fore deck and put in a second reef in the main and re-reefed the staysail. But it was cold and dark and heeling. I was scared of going on deck and scared she was over powered. I was scared conditions would deteoriate even more.

What I did do was let out the main a bit, and let the staysail out a bit. She eased up a bit. I sat there for about 20 minutes just watching and considering my options.

Upon observation, the boat was doing fine. She was handling the waves well. She was behaving, not jumping around, just chugging forward at about 4 or 5 knots. The wind was predicted to drop in the morning. So I went back to sleep. It seemed the reasonable thing to do.
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Old 11-05-2015, 18:07   #5
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

I capsized an E-SCOW (1200 lb, 28ft dinghy) in about 15kt wind on Lk Washington just about 25yr ago..

We righted the boat but it kept going capsizing again only this time one of my crew, I forget her name, and I were trapped under the sail. I swam for the leech, got clear turned to make sure she cleared the sail too.

When she got clear I started to swim for the hull and everybody started pointing and shouting. I turned back and she was going under, something on the boat was dragging her under as the boat continued to roll to turtle. I was about the doff my PFD and dive down to disentangle whatever when a friend on the other side of her loosed the shroud (?) that had caught her PFD at the back of the neck.

Once everyone was back on the hull I popped a flare which eventually (30-45 min) brought the harbor patrol. Actually the first folks on the scene were a couple of teenagers in a runabout that had seen the sail proportions and knew what the boat was from sailing in the mid-west. When the sail disappeared they knew we would need help and came looking.

Having lost a sibling to drowning, almost loosing a crew was one of the scariest things I've ever experienced.
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Old 11-05-2015, 18:35   #6
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

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Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
I capsized an E-SCOW (1200 lb, 28ft dinghy) in about 15kt wind on Lk Washington just about 25yr ago..

We righted the boat but it kept going capsizing again only this time one of my crew, I forget her name, and I were trapped under the sail. I swam for the leech, got clear turned to make sure she cleared the sail too.

When she got clear I started to swim for the hull and everybody started pointing and shouting. I turned back and she was going under, something on the boat was dragging her under as the boat continued to roll to turtle. I was about the doff my PFD and dive down to disentangle whatever when a friend on the other side of her loosed the shroud (?) that had caught her PFD at the back of the neck.

Once everyone was back on the hull I popped a flare which eventually (30-45 min) brought the harbor patrol. Actually the first folks on the scene were a couple of teenagers in a runabout that had seen the sail proportions and knew what the boat was from sailing in the mid-west. When the sail disappeared they knew we would need help and came looking.

Having lost a sibling to drowning, almost loosing a crew was one of the scariest things I've ever experienced.
Just shows if it can happen it will happen - That story is definitely scary. Sorry to hear of your personal loss also. That's a terrible tragedy.
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Old 11-05-2015, 20:47   #7
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

On our old 38', heavy wooden ketch, putting along slowly in dense fog off Halifax one morning, returning from a quiet anchorage the night before. had whole family aboard, including my parents. I felt the call of nature suddenly, handed the tiller over to my partner without giving a proper hand-over status on traffic and situation (call of nature was rather urgent). It was very quiet - only traffic was way inside the harbor and I had nothing but buoys on the radar, but to be honest I had rather lost situational awareness myself, and intended to re-acquaint myself with the radar and chart (pre plotter days) on the way back up from relief. While sitting on the head, the dull, regular thump of a big engine slowly made it through the hull and into to my consciousness and I quickly finished my business. Dashing back up past the radar I glanced at it to see a huge green blob marching it's way steadily across the screen at us. It was so big and jumping along so quickly I was a bit paralyzed for a few seconds - wasn't really sure what the hell to do. We had full sail up, but it was flat calm and we were slowly motoring at around 4 knots.

As I considered options, the steady roar of a big bow wave came out of the fog, less than 2 boat lengths away, and the huge, black steel wall of a bow - of the 67,000 tonne, 280m long containership Tokyo Express (I'll never forget that name) - loomed out of the fog, doing 16 knots obliquely at us, coming down our starboard side.

We had few options. Put the tiller hard over, went full astern to try and back away, and shouted at every one to hang on and prepare for the bow wave that was going to sweep us at the very least.

We rolled the rails under when the wave hit us, but all held on and we didn't touch the side of the ship - came about a boatlength away... close enough that I was worried on the roll back towards the ship that our masts would hit. it was WAAY closer than I ever want to be to a wall of steel moving at 16 knots, ever again. They never saw us -or at least never acknowledged seeing us.

Seems we had wandered foolishly across the traffic separation scheme without knowing it, and were squarely in the outbound lane. We had a good radar reflector - 2 actually - but it seems no one was looking; and well, we shouldn't have been there!

It was a good thing I used the toilet BEFORE the event... or I would have needed new underpants afterwards. We all were very quiet for the remainder of the slow motor back into the harbor. and it took several shots of whiskey after picking up the mooring to consider the implications of what had just happened.
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Old 11-05-2015, 21:33   #8
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

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Originally Posted by NSboatman View Post
the 67,000 tonne, 280m long containership Tokyo Express
I still see her come in twice a month or so should you wish to take that up with her master.


I must scare easily because there have been many, but two come to mind.

Passing Seal Island years ago on a windless night, about 10 nm off the SW tip of Nova Scotia, my engine failed. Heavy swells, strong currents and you can hear the waves breaking on the shoals and seals barking yet see nothing. I was sure we were going to wreck as the noise drew closer.

And there was the first time (and last) that I left full sail up too long trying to outrun a gale off Halifax and had to go forward to drop the jib. You're on your knees on a 27 foot boat, clinging on for dear life and every time the bow drops off a crest you're suspended for an eternity until gravity takes you down too and, yeeshk, it was terrifying. But I wasn't scared .
.
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Old 11-05-2015, 21:52   #9
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

Hah! seal island... fun place to be without an engine!

Yeh, I see the ol' TE quite frequently too - but I'm afraid that i'd be the one doing the apologizing if I ever met her master. I was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would have been nice if they had seen me and altered, but I was coming out of the Sambro channel, and I'm sure if they did have a blip on their screen they figured it was just a channel mark anyway. albeit one doing 3-4 knots... but that's just a detail when you're doing 16!

27' boat - what's her name and from where do you sail, Brob2?

bg
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:42   #10
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

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Originally Posted by NSboatman View Post
On our old 38', heavy wooden ketch, putting along slowly in dense fog off Halifax one morning, returning from a quiet anchorage the night before. had whole family aboard, including my parents. I felt the call of nature suddenly, handed the tiller over to my partner without giving a proper hand-over status on traffic and situation (call of nature was rather urgent). It was very quiet - only traffic was way inside the harbor and I had nothing but buoys on the radar, but to be honest I had rather lost situational awareness myself, and intended to re-acquaint myself with the radar and chart (pre plotter days) on the way back up from relief. While sitting on the head, the dull, regular thump of a big engine slowly made it through the hull and into to my consciousness and I quickly finished my business. Dashing back up past the radar I glanced at it to see a huge green blob marching it's way steadily across the screen at us. It was so big and jumping along so quickly I was a bit paralyzed for a few seconds - wasn't really sure what the hell to do. We had full sail up, but it was flat calm and we were slowly motoring at around 4 knots.

As I considered options, the steady roar of a big bow wave came out of the fog, less than 2 boat lengths away, and the huge, black steel wall of a bow - of the 67,000 tonne, 280m long containership Tokyo Express (I'll never forget that name) - loomed out of the fog, doing 16 knots obliquely at us, coming down our starboard side.

We had few options. Put the tiller hard over, went full astern to try and back away, and shouted at every one to hang on and prepare for the bow wave that was going to sweep us at the very least.

We rolled the rails under when the wave hit us, but all held on and we didn't touch the side of the ship - came about a boatlength away... close enough that I was worried on the roll back towards the ship that our masts would hit. it was WAAY closer than I ever want to be to a wall of steel moving at 16 knots, ever again. They never saw us -or at least never acknowledged seeing us.

Seems we had wandered foolishly across the traffic separation scheme without knowing it, and were squarely in the outbound lane. We had a good radar reflector - 2 actually - but it seems no one was looking; and well, we shouldn't have been there!

It was a good thing I used the toilet BEFORE the event... or I would have needed new underpants afterwards. We all were very quiet for the remainder of the slow motor back into the harbor. and it took several shots of whiskey after picking up the mooring to consider the implications of what had just happened.
Man, that was a close call. Got goose bumps just reading it. Lucky you did not have constipation.
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:47   #11
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

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Originally Posted by Brob2 View Post
I still see her come in twice a month or so should you wish to take that up with her master.


I must scare easily because there have been many, but two come to mind.

Passing Seal Island years ago on a windless night, about 10 nm off the SW tip of Nova Scotia, my engine failed. Heavy swells, strong currents and you can hear the waves breaking on the shoals and seals barking yet see nothing. I was sure we were going to wreck as the noise drew closer.

And there was the first time (and last) that I left full sail up too long trying to outrun a gale off Halifax and had to go forward to drop the jib. You're on your knees on a 27 foot boat, clinging on for dear life and every time the bow drops off a crest you're suspended for an eternity until gravity takes you down too and, yeeshk, it was terrifying. But I wasn't scared .
.
Did you manage to fire up the engine or sail away? That feeling of impending doom is agony...
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Old 12-05-2015, 08:45   #12
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

Halifax traffic control is very welcome in the fog. AIS is a boon as well.

I was passed by a big ol freighter coming I one day. Never did see her until inside where the fog cleared, even though she passed me within a couple of hundred feet.

Running out the Big Bra d'Or in a flood tide with an strong opposing wind can be fun too!
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Old 12-05-2015, 11:51   #13
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

Yes Hpeer - the Halifax VTS folks are great.

That was a funny thing there too though, I don't think they saw me on their radar, or they would have been calling like they usually do. I was in one of those odd locations though, right on the transition between channel 12 for the inner harbor ops and 14 for the approaches, and the containership had just dropped her pilot and was building up passage speed clearing Sambro Head, essentially in open water - so you know there was a bit of turnover/distraction/relaxing of the focus happening on their bridge too. Key location for an easy confluence of minor oversights... I sure learned my lesson.
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Old 12-05-2015, 12:13   #14
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

Too many to spell out in detail:
-Stuck in the Gulf Stream at night time south of Hatteras in my 47 footer. Breaking waves probably 12 ft-16ft. 35 knots NE against the stream. tried to heave to as we were dead tired. Boat was overwhelmed with breaking seas continually for 1.5 hours. (Boats wont heave to properly in that kind of water as the water is stronger than the sails) Eventually just headed down wind.
-Took the Inlaws out for an overnighter in October in the PNW. Chose our favorite protected anchorage. Thought we'd be fine. Had a great dinner aboard and when it got dark the wind was roaring out of the West. Never seen it come in the protected harbor that way though. Eventually the tide changed and must have been a big tide differential, the boat kept swirling around in the anchorage noisily dragging chain across the mostly rock bottom. Ended up about 10ft from big rocks. Tried a stern anchor that made things worse. had to abandon the stern anchor/rode on a fender bouy and head out in the dark. No radar. Took hours to get back to the marina against the strong tide and big seas. DUH!
- Left a secure anchorage in the am in the Sea of Cortez, no indication of wind all night. Decided to tow the hard dingy for the short 15 mile trip. In the channel between anchorages the seas were breaking and about 16 ft. Would have been a great sail on a reach if we weren't towing the dingy. The dink kept trying to pass the mothership... then surfing up to the stern and colliding into the Monitor windvane, eventually snubbing up, filling with water. We all ducked as the 3/8 yellow poly long painter snubbed up tight... boom! the dingy jumped vertically out of the water, emptying the hull and began surfing again! We had to stop and pull it aboard in those seas. What a fire drill!
Alot more stories too. Sometimes I'm amazed I'm even still alive....
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Old 12-05-2015, 12:36   #15
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Re: What was your most scariest boating moment.

As a professional delivery skipper, you can imagine I've had my share of frightening experiences on the water but the one that sticks in my mind was delivering a 39 foot Ingrid from the PNW to San Francisco alone about 40 years ago.
This was in the days prior to chart plotters and integrated radar systems although the vessel was equipped with loran and a 16 mile radar as I recall.
Sailing south off the Columbia Bar, I was in pretty thick fog about 3 o'clock in the morning and was out about 30 miles. I had periodically picked up what I thought was a cruise ship headed north about 4-6 miles off my starboard and was tracking her on the radar. The fog lifted slightly, enough to pick out the lights on the lower decks but with the upper deck and bridge obscured by fog, she looked just like an alien space ship!
As I stood in the cockpit, my mind turning over the spaceship fantasy, directly out of the lights I was watching came 3 streaking lines of light in the water. I really wondered what this strange ship was firing at me... Could it be torpedoes and I was mistaken for a drone target? I grabbed the chart looking for a military activity zone but could see nothing. The 3 streaks came closer and closer traveling at what appeared to be about 20 knots. I braced for the impact and explosion on my starboard side when the lights suddenly disappeared only to reappear off either side in my bow wave.
Dolphins had chosen that particular moment to check out my vessel and it was phosphorous in their wake that looked exactly like a torpedo launched from the alien space craft.
I went below, poured myself a stiff drink although I have a general prohibition against alcohol on any delivery, that settled my nerves.
I'll never forget that strange experience and it has stuck with me after close to 50 years at sea! Phil
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