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post #4 of Old 09-22-2008
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Location: California
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I don't trust weather "observers" or "predictors" anymore. A few years back, I bought my boat in Southern California and sailed her North. We picked up fuel, about mid-day at the Dana Point harbor. While there, I could see dark clouds out to sea. I listened to NOAA Marine Weather and they predicted light winds and calm seas for the afternoon. Based on the forecast, we headed out and I was thinking to myself it would really suck to be sailing in the rain. Winds started out at about 5 knots and seas were 1-2 feet. It wasn't long before the boat picked up speed and started heeling past 15-degrees. I was just considering reefing the main when the winds increased to 25+. The seas began to build as well. Just as I began to call for the crew (I was the only one on deck), the boat performed an accidental tack. I quickly released one jib sheet and drew tight the other while I steered the boat. We needed to tack soon anyway, the boat was moving nicely, and I didn't see the need for the crew to rush. Within two minutes, she performed another accidental tack. I decided when she did the third, a minute later, to heave-to and assess what was going on. I left the jib sheet tight on the upwind side and turned the rudder hard-over to point into the wind. Within two seconds, the boat laid over with 45+ degrees of heel, started moving backwards, and water was coming over the side into the cockpit. The crew looked bewildered from the companionway. There wasn't much else to do but start the engine, nose into the wind, and bring down the sails. By the time the sails were secured, we were in 30+ knots of wind and 5-6 foot swells. Needless to say, we motored to our next port. The weather had gone from 5 knot winds and 1-2 foot swells to 30+ knot winds and 5-6 foot seas in the space of about ten minutes or less. So, NO...I don't trust weather forecasters anymore.

At the time, I was rather inexperienced both at sailing and with the boat.

When we made it to Santa Barbara, we learned at least one sailboat had been demasted by that same storm.

Skipper, J/36 "Zero Tolerance"
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