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post #1008 of Old 03-15-2009
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Originally Posted by blt2ski View Post
I did not post this earlier, Jody is NOT having any fun, went aground a mile NW of skatchet bouy, Hopefully is off about now.


We made it back - less (so far) some scratches at the bottom of the keel and some physiological treatment to be needed for the crew in the next few days... She is down at Edmonds as we could not get the motor started after being getting towed off the sandbar and shoal. The latter probably due to battery, but could be fuel, could be sand in the engine...sigh...

We began short-handed (two cancelled late minute), so we played it safe. Put in 3rd reef on the main, ran with genoa on the furler. Was doing ok up until Possession Point. Thats when we heard the MOB on the VHF - it was near our location and we could see a boat that had the sails struck so kept our course on an almost intercept (we were about 3 miles out to begin with). However, never got a name of the boat and as we got closer the chatter for the MOB died and so we resumed ...

The seas were now about 5-6 foot swells as we apporached the bouy for the tack. However, between the wind now gusting up to 32-38 and the increasing height of the swells and intensity - we ended up waiting just a moment to long to finally try to round up and tack. Thats when we got hit by a few swells in succession on the broadside and we were not able to over power them. Time 12:07 pm.

We had pinned the keel on the sandbar and started the motor and tried to pitch it off - but the angle of attack and the conditions we were in - we just got lifted over the sandbar and into the shoal area. Then the motor just died. By then all we could was strike down the sails and try to wait it out. Called it as it happened on the VHF as the conditions were not exactly getting slacker...

In the end, Coast Guard could not get to us due to our position (they did a fly-by and we chatted for a bit with the Helo). Got ahold of Vessel Assist - and they got their heads around the situation - but it would be a few hours before they could do anything to begin with. I did ask the crew if they wanted to abandon ship - they all decided to stick it out, and the CG was prepared to evacuate those who would of wanted (and I would of understood). NO one was hurt - the actual grounding was not actually felt - it was the pounding that occurred for the next few hours that we will feel for a few days.

Even as I am sitting here, my body feels as if it is still there the manning the helm and trying to kept the pitch of the boat to windward as possible. We'd get picked up 5 feet or so and then try to steer to settle her down easy only to get dropped hard into the sand. Of which, we were lucky - the sandy bottom at least the best case scenario if you have to get into this predicament. The helm was managed the whole duration and we tried to use the swells and wind to our advantage - which I think minimized some of the issues we could of had..We started working with a 40 degree roll, and did managed to reduce it to 20-10 degree about 3 pm.

Of note - about how shallow it was and I am not making this up. Chris (believe that was his name), a gentleman maybe in his late fifties..He lives in one of the houses up on the cliff, and had contacted us on the VHF and gave us some advice about how to wait it out and what to expect.

Around 2 PM the winds had dropped to 10-15, swells were maybe 2 feet and 4 minute intervals.... And we see this guy wading through the shoal waters. At first he seemed like he was just well - weird. Fishing maybe? Clamming? We watched over the course of the next 30 minutes until he suddenly waded up and was alongside our port railing. I imagine he was maybe 6 foot, the water came up to his chest.

He came bearing gifts, beers for the crew (micro at that), girl scout cookies, and did so with the guise of it was an "Maritime tradition to perform for those stranded"...He actually took alot of the sting out the situation as he chatted about how they see hundreds of boats, freighters etc, get snapped up there... We thanked him for his hospitality, effort, and I joked - "Really sorry I can't give you a lift back"...You have to appreciate the uhmmm movie quality of this as it was the last thing you would expect in the scenario you are in... Dude - you rocked...thank you...

By 3:50 PM, the slack tide was no longer slack. However, the winds increased and so did the swells again back to 3-5 feet and in sporadic intervals. We started getting lifted up and smacked back down with increasing ferocity. From around 1:30 PM until 3:50 PM we had literally not moved in position and held on a course of 060....By 4 PM we had moved almost 200 feet closer to the shore...We made the call to Vessel Assist to inform them that our situation was now turning for the worse, and it would be a matter of time before it would not be one controllable...

4:25 PM - Vessel Assist comes alongside and tosses the towing line. We get it secured on the stern cleat. Thus begins the battle of maneuvering a 8 foot keel sailboat backwards. This is one of those times you appreciate having the IOR style I have - the rudder is short, and is advantageous in the fact that being towed from stern, it will remain intact.

It was a bumpy ride. We sent everyone forward, two in the v-berth - two secured and tethered at the pulpit, with Dan giving me depth and location from the Nav. I managed the helm and the swells kept rising. At many times we were seeing 10 footers and all I could do was try to spin the wheel of fortune and spin it back again and ride the swells as we bumped and grinded...Flooding the cockpit on several occasions as the swells broke over the sugar scoop stern......

We broke free by 5:04 pm, and we had the option of sailing out of there. I tried to get the motor started and it was a no go, and per usual - told the crew the scenario and what we would have to do and what the option was...Crew opted to finish the tow stating they were exhausted (rightfully so) and we were towed and banged our way to Edmonds...

Docking was uneventful and great seamanship and custer service from Vessel Assist. They waited until we could assess our situation once free (the motor the issue and the increasing weather on all points).. We are moored at the guest slips at Edmonds currently.

Dan's wife came down and picked us up and they drove us back to Elliott Bay Marina...Thanks much there too!

I haven't thought this through, but I think we just happened to a delayed decision and the current conditions and lack of local knowledge led to the event. The real scenario is the fact - no one ever panicked. Maybe that is how I preach about handling situations and the whole safety aspect I have with "HG" and it was reflected and maybe it gives a positive false confidence but it went all ways.

Dan, Steve, Martin, and Juan simply made best of the situation and took a huge burden off my shoulder. I was totally prepared to get them off (I would not leave the boat however) and yet they stuck it through (I never asked them too either and stressed - if you want off - I'll make it happen). I attribute most of that in how I like to communicate. I don't exactly candy coat things and do not believe in "hiding details" ever... Everyone performed exceptionally and everything was a group decision... Compared to Foul Weather Bluff - this was a cakewalk simply because everyone put in what was required - a vested interest to everyone I would like to think...

It was an adventure - and if it was to happen for the first time for someone, I would hope they to have the same crew I did - and wish others have the types of individuals that I was surrounded with - to make it through. It was was rough, and many times we thought - heeled to far and starting taking on water (never happened) - how close is that shoreline again? But, we made it through it...

That's my un-biased observation...Apparently three boats ran aground, and alot of carnage this race (hope to find out how the MOB resolved)... And well, it was an unusual and wish it had never happened. But it did - Dan, Steve, Martin, and Juan - thanks for seeing it through - you are my heroes...

Thanks David for the follow-up call... I'll be back down in the morning - I'll help with the RC if you need extra body...

-- Jody

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Last edited by artbyjody; 03-15-2009 at 01:31 AM.
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