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post #19 of Old 09-22-2008
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Canada
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I'm going to chime in here.. because I've got a pretty good one.. We'll call this story 'lesson learned' ..

I sail in the Ottawa River, Lac Deschenes waterway, skipped a Tanzer 22.. A very overbuilt and sturdy 22 ft keelboat ..

A friend wanted to go out, he had one day he could ..So we decided to do a 2-3 hour cruise up to Aylmer island (about 4 miles to windward from the club) and back .. maybe anchor for lunch . Didn't check the weather, as a) I was a newbie, and b) it was sunny, warm and dead calm (that's good right? *sigh*)

.. anyways, it takes us about 2 hours to tack maybe 2-3 NM towards the island in the exciting 1 kt wind we are experiencing.. I am busy apologizing to Nick for his first time on the boat being 'so dull' ..

As soon as the words leave my mouth, I notice foul weather to the S/W .. of course, I didn't know the weather patterns at the time, and figured 'maybe it will miss us.. if the other boats turn back, so shall we..'

*crackle boom!*

the other boats turn back.. We debate what we'll do for the next 20 minutes, at which point the flottilla is mostly back, and we are way too far out.. .. At this point my 'mildly intelligent sailor' gene kicks in, and I realize we are too far out to make it back before it hits, and the wind is picking up.. we leave the genoa up (duuuuh) and reef the main, and decide to try and sail it .. so we head as close to the windward shore as possible ..

Anyways, first comes the rain, then comes the hail, then comes the 50kt headwind, THEN comes the WALL of black water.. at this point the boat is pinned on her beam, helm is hard over, and all I can do is hope the canvas doesn't tear and the storm runs out of wind before we run out of lake.. which it does..

Ok, not so bad.. it lasted all of 5 minutes, but there is another one coming and I can see it..

"We're not going to make it back, let's do it right this time"

We drop and tie down the sails (duuuuuuh) and get the prop in the water.. all whopping 6 HP of it.. Sure enough, the storm hits again, with even more ferocity this time, and longer.. we ride it out, motoring to windward for a good 20 minutes, holding formation with three other boats whos running lights I can see.. It's like steering on a tightrope, but I'm keeping her pointed with my trusty Johnston 6HP gunned..

However, I'm getting hypothermic (maybe I should have invested in something stronger than a 1 dollar walmart poncho? I am a newbie .. that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) .. so I tell nick he has to take the helm, and jump inside to warm up.. hes doing OK, when all of a sudden our 'strapped down 130% genny breaks free of it's tie, and runs right up the forestay... we go over, pinned to the water again.. this looks familiar, and quickly lose sight of the other boats .. Nick, under my direction does a good job of keeping us beam-to.. it's too dangerous to get up as and bring in the genny we're at a 50 degree heel, and I know it will be over soon.. sure enough, it us.. ..

A few minutes later as we are collecting our wits, and the contents of the cabin police fire and rescue (who had been flanking our small fleet the whole time) come and ask us if we'd seen a boat in trouble .."No, I never noticed anyone" ..

They were responding to an SOS issued by another boat, for someone they thought was going down or in trouble.. it later dawned on me that that was probably us, when our flotilla saw our genny break loose.. .. oh well..

anyways.. after that conversation.. *crackle* *boom* in the west.. I make a judgement call, and decide we can outrun it.. Full canvas up, it's blowing 20-30 and we close haul home in about 15 minutes flat.. probably one of the fastest sails I've made on her ever.. .. dock, derig, and run to the cars sopping wet just as #3 hits, with even more ferocity than the first two..

The boat came through without a scratch or a tear, Nick still can't meet someone knew without telling that story whilst sporting an ear to ear grin..

Me? When the weather turns nasty I know which way it comes from, don my shiny new storm gear, put the canvas *in* the boat.. drop the hook or motor (dependant on position and situtuation) and laugh in the face of danger..

seasoned, no.. but no heeling, broach or shift really phases me anymore after that.. For me it was the day I 'got my legs', and fell in love with my boat.. After that day she's a she, not an it. and 30+ is a day I 'really should go sailing, as opposed to a day when I should cancel my sailing plans
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