Weather SURPRISE out at SEA
After completing a very basic course on Dinghy Sailing, I thought I would further my education by crewing on some bigger boats. I found one individual who was kind enough and patience enough to take me on. This individual races in a lot of those CCV races, and I have been out with him at least 5 times. I have learnt a GREAT DEAL in a short space of time. But this weekend was the most drastic lesson I have learned so far. There was a Sunday race, and I make it a point to always check the weather report the day before and the day of the race. There were Thunderstorms and Isolated Showers predicted for this race day (starting at 11:00AM), and I thought for sure the race would be cancelled. But I went to the dock and saw the rest of the crew making the usual preparations to go out. The weather was nice and a pretty good day for sailing (9:00AM), so although my mind said do not go, I went ahead and we went out. The race was to start at 11:00AM, and we had a wonderful start. But then about 45 minutes into the race, we lost all wind and just drifted or sat in a hole. Then one of the crew notice a very ominous dark cloud and he said it was heading our way. He was right and within ten minutes there was a gust of serious wind and rain and then, it looked to me a novice that all hell broke loose. We were flying a #1 Jib and the wind and the waves 4-6 ft just started throwing the boat around like it was a piece of plywood. We dropped the #1 Jib and put on the #2 and it was no better. I was the pit guy and had to go under and prepare the #2 Jib to be passed out to the forestay guy, and man was I thrown around the cabin. I had never been on such a ride before and it was quite concerning and quite wonderful all at the same time. The Capt, who was fighting the wheel, told us to reef the Mainsail, first we reefed it to the #1 position and later to the #2 position. This gave us a little more control of the boat, but not enough to really stay clear of the results of the waves and the wind. I was sitting on the high side as the boat was heeling quite severely. Then something happened I never noticed before, the waves would sometimes change the heel of the boat, so that one minute I was the high side and the next I was the low side. The force of the wind was so strong that to do a jibe we had to take down the Mainsail, and pull the boom over and then raise the mainsail again ob the new side. I think our Capt, called this a Squall or something but whatever it was it really broke me into the REAL world of sailing. Well after about what seemed like an eternity, but was really maybe 45 minutes of Hell, the cloud and storm passed over us. In the time we were experiencing this madness I thought I would never see the dock again. What really scared me the most was that the 5 previous times I had been out with this boat; I was the only one that wore a lifejacket. But in the middle of the fight the Captain had everyone else put on a lifejacket. On the radio we here many distress calls and heard one by one boats calling the race committee to say they were pulling out of the race. We our selves just miss hitting another race boat by about 4 feet. When we pulled in the dock, I saw a boat with it mast broken in half, I saw sails torn, and heard of tow boats that collided. Needless to say it was quite an exciting but concerning experience, and I learned quite a bit about respecting the weather and the power of the sea. But I must tip my hat to the captain and the forestay guy as they fought and did everything in their powers to control and fight back against the storm. I also learned that in situations like that the one thing you must do is something and not just think about the situation and not react. One of my first REAL Lessons of being out at sea, and I just wanted to share it with you guys. I can say now that I am so glad I experienced it, although when I was in it, it seemed like one of the last places I wanted to be…. Thanks for listening and Stay Dry….