Having been raised where 20 knots was matter of course, I wouldn't give it a thought, but a yacht's normal behavior can be very frightening to novice
sailors or guests just along for a ride, so why give anyone a scare? More wives/girlfriends have been permanently dissuaded from sailing by unnecessarily aggressive husbands/boy-friends than one can possibly imagine. There are, however exceptions...
In mid-October, 1994, I happened to bringing our, then, Cal
2-29 to the Tampa Bay area from Ft. Lauderdale. My volunteer crew was a young fellow from my office that wanted to learn to sail and was very enthusiastic about the trip which was pretty uneventful until we got into the vicinity of San Carlos
Bay. It seems that Hurricane
Gordon, which has passed us by while we were safely in port, decided to loop around and make another pass at us. We managed to get through the Sanibel bridge and up to and across the "Miserable Mile" going down wind, but once we turned north in Pine Island Sound, the wind and seas got pretty exciting. We furled the head
sail and double reefed the main but were still pretty over powered as we blasted passed Roosevelt Channel, where I had hoped to hide out, before I realized it. Our last dodge was at South Seas Plantation marina and I called them on the VHF
to see if they could take us. They could but commented that their channel had shoaled to 4-1/2 feet at the turn into the marina. (We drew just under 5.) As the conditions were deteriorating rapidly, I told my novice
crew--Jack--to get ready and we gibed the boat to port and took off like a shot, westerly, down the South Sea's Channel--with a rooster tail according to observers on the beach. At the bottom of the channel, with on-lookers on the fishing
pier quite wide eyed as we approached at speed, we snapped the boat to port again, laid her starboard rail in the water
, and zoomed over the shoal and into the marina where the yacht popped up-right as the wind was blocked by the land and trees to port. Jack just whooped "Cool" and "Far-Out!" with the excitement while my knees were so weakened I had to sit for a minute before we wrestled the yacht to the leeward side of our assigned dock.
Later, in the bar, I asked Jack if he wasn't a bit scared by the events
to wit he replied "Well hell skipper
, I figured if you weren't scared I had nothing to worry about, right?." "Oh" I said, leaving it at that. (I had been scared shoot-less for the entire exercise!) After two daze of howling weather
, the rest of our trip was, fortunately, very uneventful!
Evidently, at least for some people, the "Skipper's" demeanor sets the tone.