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post #1770 of Old 03-11-2010 Thread Starter
The Elephant
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Great BFS story from Doslocos in the "Knock Down" thread:

Originally Posted by doslocos View Post
I have heard it said that anyone with any time on the Ocean has experienced a knockdown. I am not quite sure that is true but I can relay my experiences. "Tonic" you might want to read what I relay here, and you so far have been quite fortunate. I was transiting from Roatan Honduras to The Flats at Cristobal in Panama. As the trades are a constant 15 knots coming from the East going West and you are trying to go the opposite, this transit is rather difficult. Columbus spent 3 months attempting the same trip and when finally rounging the tip of Honduras he named the cape there, Cabo a Gracious De Dios. Roughly translated, thank God cape. The way to make this transit is to wait for a winter storm front to pass by and then run as fast as you can East following the front. It is a cold, wet, miserable trip. What happens is the winds shift from North East to North West and thus you are almost on a broad reach. My trip went as well as could be expected until I rounded Cabo a Gracious De Dios. The wind then decided to also round around and now I was on a broad reach all the way south to Panama with shore on one side, Reef on the other side and waves on my Port quarter. I took two knock downs by waves taller than my mast. I lost several pieces of equipment including my tri light which was some 38' above the deck. As I limped into the flats the local net came up and the weather man apologized for not reporting a major storm in the Western Caribbean over the past two days. He advised not transiting but staying put. You can imagine my response. It had a reference to Sherlock in it. As for preparation, I never went off shore with my hatched not battened and the hatch boards in place. I had a lock on my companion way hatch so it would not open unintentionally. Everything inside was stowed except what I needed for the transit at hand. I had two GPS's. One deck mounted inside the boat and one hand held outside the boat. I always checked one against the other and in the case of a discrepancy I referred to paper chart. I also have some 30 years of navigation skills thus have developed that inborn sense of long exposure and skill. Repairs to my boat took approximately 1 week. I also always wore a life vest with harness which was attached by tether to hard points in the cockpit. The Life vest I chose was an inflatable (manual). I choose a manual inflatable as I always wondered if an automatic might go off by itself at just the wrong moment. I found others to be to bulky and in and of themselves dangerous. I single handed a 30' boat with 6 berths thus I carried 6 kapok life jackets which were always within reach. I also had a hard dodger which slowed the boat because of wind resistance but kept me from getting washed overboard several times. Could I have kept from being knocked down? Probably not. Was I prepared? Yes.

S/V Dawn Treader - 1989 Hunter Legend 40
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