Hello folks, I have greatly enjoyed this thread. So much to learn!
I recently completed a 1200 NM journey from California
to La Paz
, BCS, Mexico
. Although the trip went very well and I learned an enormous amount, I did have two close calls where death could have resulted.
The first happened on our very first overnight passage
of the trip. We had 4 crew, two with experience, one of the inexperienced on watch. I had instructed all the crew to wake me in any event that they were concerned about or unsure of. So my crew wakes me with, "Hey Bill, would you come take a look at this?", at 0200 off of Ensenada, Mexico
. There was no urgency or fear in his voice, so I assumed it was nothing major. I poked my head
up to see a medium-sized freighter crossing our bow about 200 yards away!!! Not only that, but our bearing was directly towards shore (6+ miles away). I turned hard to starboard, missing the freighter, which then turned hard to port as soon as it passed our bow, and we missed colliding by a narrow margin. I had provided the crew with a laminated sheet that helps identify vessels and courses based on navigation
lights showing. My crew told me that he thought the freighter was another sailboat, so he kept trying to "go around it" by cutting across its bow. So the freighter kept bearing off to their starboard in an effort to not run down the idiot who kept trying to cross its bow.
I take full responsibility and realize that I should have broken down the duties of the watch-keeper in much more detail. However, it is sometimes difficult to eliminate poor choices, especially when coupled with inexperience. After that we had 2-man watches, with one experienced crew and one inexperienced crew working together. It was tiring, but much safer.
My second close call on this trip involved working at the mast
at night in a pitching sea. As I was adjusting the main halyard
, standing just forward of the mast
, my staysail boom came flying over and just kissed my ear. Caused a bit of bleeding and now I have a small califlour ear on that side. I was tethered and was wearing my PFD
, but I don't think that would have helped with a brain injury or concussion, which might have occurred if I was an inch or two closer to midline. So now I know to sheet in the staysail before performing any work at the mast.
We live, we learn, we sail another day if we are lucky enough to survive our lessons.