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Old 11-21-2009
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I need a term for the underwater sailing experience my wife and I "enjoyed" three years ago here just off Mount Desert Island, Maine. It has given me a new appreciation for underwater contours as I plan our routes.

We were motoring our 15' Marshall catboat out to Baker Island for a picnic on Storm Beach. It was a warm still July day. The 9.5 Evenrude obm was running smoothly. My wife had the wine and cheese out and we were relaxing, enjoying the warm sun. I had decided to slip between the outcrops of East Bubker's Ledge to look at the seals. There were no ripples on the water just gentle swells, less than 2 ft. high breaking on the shoals on the seaward ends of the two ledges. Our approach from Seal Harbor gave us a clear view of the ledges for 10 minutes and there was no sign of anything unusual. The gut we were motoring through about 6 ft. deep at 1/4 tide and 100 yards wide. Just as we were emerging from the "gut" a huge wave about 10 ft. high rose up in front of us and broke over our bow. I only had time to holler "hold on" and watch green water being parted by our mast about half way up as the breaker landed on us. If we had been 10 yards ahead of where we were hit by the wave it would have flipped us backwards. It filled the boat washing stuff out over the transom. The boat had to have disappeared from view by the looks on the faces of the folks fishing in a small skiff just off the ledges. A second wave about 2/3 the height of the first one followed before we could do anything. The boat was still afloat and the engine continued to run. This happened very qiuckly and I was now worried about what was next. We were at the point of origin of the first wave now and if a third rose up I figured we would be flipped backward. The water was very foamy and the prop was cavatating badly. I wanted to get out of there. The boat was full of water and heavy. There was no third wave.

We got clear of the ledges and used a bucket and our pump to bail. The obm never even shuddered. We emptied the boat, salvaged the rest of the wine and had tied almost everything in so didn't loose anything important over the transom. We did make to Baker Island for our picnic.

The 50 fathom line comes in close to the ledges there and I guess a couple of waves from SSE who knows where "rogues"? hit the ledges at the moment we were passing over the edge. Whew! I had water in my ear for two days because I turned my head sideways when the first one hit. We were lucky!

I now look at those undersea contours with a bit more interest as I plan our routes in the little boat. It wasn't a knock down. It was a swamping I guess?

Marshall has a very capable little boat in their Sandpiper.

George
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