Bit of a story, and looking for some feedback and suggestions on how I could have handled things differently. I know some mistake I made, and in the end it was my fault, but I want to learn as much as I can from this so I come to the hive mind.
So I continue shaking down my new to me last fall Columbia
36. Today's plan was to leave home marina and sail about 30nm, anchor
out overnight to watch some fireworks from the boat
. Things did NOT go according to plan.
On board I actually had crew of myself, the better half and teenager who were on board for what was supposed to be their first overnight at anchor. Cruising on upper Chesapeake bad were where heading across the bay westerly over to Rock Hall. Forecast
was for 10 knots of breeze building to 12-14, which was upper end of my range to sail without a reef in. Beautiful sail 3/4 of way across bay downwind with wind
120deg off port. It was great sail, but winds had built to about 15-16 true 9-10 apparent. First mistake, I should have reefed. My rule
for right now is 12 knots first reef, but the downwind and reduced apparent wind
and desire to 'rush' to get to anchor to go swimming and I didn't reef. First big mistake
, if everything had went according to plan it would have been fine. I thought about reefing (which of course means I should have reefed). I needed to do a gybe to setup for run into inlet. I had teenager on the wheel
, I sheeted in the main and proceed to have teenager start the gybe.
This was second mistake!
Teenager on helm
has limited helming experience and was going to be her first gybe.... The main sail was not the problem, the jib
was. I am still not 100% sure what went wrong. Teenager over steered the gybe, and I assume I mistimed releasing and pulling in jib
on other side. Result... Jib sail wrapped around furler
, and one of jib sheets
wrapped itself around the anchor on the bow, shifting it fouling the furling
line. Sail was flogging like crazy and tangled pretty badly, I was going to have to go forward to straighten out. Main sail still sheeted center (assuming this was correct) wind 120deg from starboard. I go forward and untangle the jib sheet but don't notice anchor shifting had fouled furling
line. Anchor was tied down and couldn't shift more so I left it shifted to sort out after I got everything else straightened out.
Mistake #3, or really really bad timing
When I went forward wind was still about 14knts, as I was up there and about 3 minutes in the worse gybe of my life, a guest hit. Well more of a wind shift. Wind went to 25 knots and stayed there.... I got back to the cockpit
and crew was noticeably upset and were very much in panic mode. I took over helm
, jib is still flogging like crazy but I got it pulled over to correct side at least. Immediately started to attempt to furl in the jib to discover the fouled furling line. Wind is shifting directions jib is flogging worse and teenager is in a bit of a panic.
Mistake #4, I decide best and quickest solution is to get this boat dead into the wind and all pressure off the sails
Before turning wind is still around 25knts, in the total of 5-7 minutes into this the bay has gone from a rolly 1.5 to 2 foot seas to 4-5 foot seas of sharp chop. I am getting a little frazled too, not so much by conditions I still have control and worse case I damage the flogging jib. So I make a hard turn thru 120 to get wind on the nose.
Mistake #5 and the one that caused the damage
I fired up the engine
ready for power head
into wind. BUT, I don't ease the main sail before I start the turn. The stressing teenager had me in fix this quick mode and I missed it. So as I turn thru I am beam to 25knts, in 5 foot steep chop with a tighly centered full main sail........We put the rail in the water
but that wasn't the problem. As we pulled thru wind dead on beam the rig vibrates loudly, but quiets down as I complete the turn. Jib is flogging again like crazy but now at least boat is dead into wind and sails
while still up are depowered.
Took another 5 minutes to get the jib fully furled, I kick the autopilot
on to keep us dead into wind and take a minute to gather myself and settle the crew. After everyone settled down I went to mast
and dropped the main. Wind stayed 25-30knts for another 15 minutes then dropped back down and seas calmed back down to 2-3 feet another 5 minutes latter.
The damage? Port spreader (single spreader rig and they are wood) is broken but not completely. It actually looks like it came out of the socket slid forward and somehow wedged itself back into the socket somewhat. I assume the wood
spreader broke moved. I didn't take pictures, but it is not fully seated in the socket and is forward somehow shifted forward about and inch. I assume it broke in socket and somehow what was left shifted and then jammed itself half back into socket. On and I lost
my hat..... Crew was not thrilled. We motored back across the bay and pulled back into slip under blue skies and 2 (yes that's right a whole 2knts of breeze). Buttoned up the boat and got the crew home. I will go back down in next couple days and do a more though inspection
Lessons learned. Reef, damn it just put in the damn reef. Granted would have been over powered even with one reef but would have been better. If I had been out solo I would have reefed. Actually had a similar situation out solo two weeks ago without the extreme guest, and reefed early to two reefs
and was fine. But I had crew and pushed the envelope because I was rushing. I know better, and now I really really know better.
My real point of self doubt is the decision to make the turn. After the failed gybe and fouled sheet and then fouled furling line, and my thought was the only sure fired way to stabilize everything and avoid another problem furling the jib was to make the turn. I think I would have been fine if I just released the main sheet. But what was other option vs turning. If I didn't turn into the wind I would have been going forward again to un-fowl the furling line with a paniced crew at the helm with sails
flogging like crazy. It probably would have worked, but if would have stressed the already stressed crew further. I am confident that I can solo the boat in the conditions I saw today, but the crew is very green and I tried to include them and use them and teach them only to have it go so wrong.
Ok, let me have it internet
. What else should I have done differently.