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post #2 of Old 03-07-2007
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I have no doubt there will be many people here that will stand back and make all types of negative remarks (smile).

In stories like this (especially when they have a happy ending... everyone survives), we as sailors should stand back and be thankful no one was killed (which usually happens) and evaluate what mistakes were made to save our own butts and that of others.

I have never spoken to Skip (that I know of). Seem like nice people. I hope they get it all worked out and find a way back out to the life. The world is filled with a** holes, nice to see some that are not. So, should they read this: Hope you can get things back together. Don't lose faith or be turned off by any negative comments.

My thoughts:

These are my basic cruising grounds, so I will comment on what he did and what I do different. THis is not meant as a crituque (though it will come across as one), but learning for anyone else that is going to make this run or anything offshore. I am not the expert, learn something new everyday, and I could write a book the size of a dictionary on my screwups... I just did not lose my boat in them. WIth that said, here goes:

1) Sea sick. Ever been sick? It will screw with your mind in every repect. At some point if you are sea sick, you are more of a liability than an assett. I have said this a thousand times, but will say it again: EVERONE GETS SEASICK! We all just have different thresholds. Realize that and learn what those thresholds are before makina a passage. Also, being down below is the worst place to be if you are prone to becoming sea sick. Stand at the helm and hand steer. Stare at the horizon. Drink a lot of water. Whatever works for you.. but learn it before heading off.

2) Scopalomine. I use it if I am going to be off for more than 24 offshore. I guess everyone gets different side effects, but one of the most common is your inability to focus (isn't that kinda how it works too??). Maps are ok, but small letters are difficult. Forget reading anything (ship names or markers) through binocs. Still, it works very well. It does not make me sleepy, some people it does. This is one of those things that you can learn how your body reacts to it BEFORE getting on a boat and making 24, 48 or longer offshore. Just stick it behind the ear and walk around a few days (or day). The med does no really set in for about 24 hours, so be thoughtful of that. Still, it is all but mandatory on my boat. Other things work too (ginger for some, phenyl for serious problems) but that is not the point of this thread.

3) Offshore versus coastal. I dissagree with his concern about heading offshore. Especially there, the further off you get the more the waves spread out and roll. Deep water is the best place to be in a blow. They should teach that in every class and make you write that 100 times before you buy a boat or set foot on one. A dead south heading from Tampa will take you further and further offshore, but following the coast past about Naples, the water becomes shallow. I don't care for the marathon passage, the Key West is better. If you get stuck near the 10k islands in a blow, you will be miserable. Give yourself a lot of berth.

4) Instruments. Your sailing partners that will stand watch better know your instruments as well as you do.

5) Watch. 4 on and 4 off works best for us. Other differ, and that is fine. Find one that works and stick to it. If a strom blows in, neither will get much rest, but just closing your eyes help.

6) There is a MASSIVE misconception amongst some cruisers (especially new cruisers) that the gulf is a good training ground for offshore and an easy run. Nothing is further from the truth. Would it be fair to say (with exceptions, many of them) it can be worse?? The fetch that builds across the gulf makes for large rollers in deep water but when that hits the shelf they climb to tall, square waves that have a tendency to break. That is why a northern can be so dangerous (and is very frequent). I have been caught in them (even when they were not supposed to be there). Nothing like deep water, the Pacific especially. Also, the shelf goes out for over 100 miles (or more) from the W coast of Florida.

7) Charts. They are a good generality, but the hurricanes have screwed many of them up. There are channels where there used to be islands and shoals where there used to be channels. Thus, never get anywhere near an anchorage or inlet you do not know at night. Heave to. Sail in circles. Turn on the engine and beat into the weather. Throw out your anchor and listen to Buffet with a drink... whatever works for you... but it is insane going into shallow water where reefs are present at night. The best time to hit them is daytime when the sun over you. Morning is tough and evening can be tough (due to the reflections). What is it... blue is fine, green is getting close (slow down), brown is oh **** grab onto something.

8) I would have reefed to or heaved to for sleep.

9) REalize the importance of cross track error and account for that or have a CP that does.

10) We won't even discuss the schedules aspect of making a passage. Let the sea decide.

11) I don't care about wind speed, I care about wave height & period.

12) **** happens.

These are just my uneducated thoughts. Others may differ. Again, I wish nothing but the best to Skip and should he read this: What does not kill you makes you stronger. Get back out there. You will be fine. Everyone screws up (even on this site, no matter what they say!), yours just cost you your boat. We were lucky and ours did not. Don't let anyone elses contentiousness bring you down. When in doubt, just refer to #12 above - I do.

- CD

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