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post #385 of Old 12-15-2010
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Wilmington Island, GA
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Thought of another - that I think is a good one to share (regarding lessons learned).

In Feb. of 2002 I took my two youngest boys - Alex and Sam (ages 9 and 13) to the lake (Clark's Hill/Strom Thurmond reservoir - northwest of Augusta, GA) to sail our new Hobie 18 magnum. The winds were expected to be nearly 20 knots so we were psyched for some fast sailing. And FAST it was!

We flew a hull immediately upon launch and crossed the 4 mile stretch across the lake in minutes - screaming! The guys had huge eyes and were loving it. We sailed for nearly two hours this way (with occasional warmup stops in coves) and then on one broad reach with our starboard hull flying a gust caught us and the tramp went past 45 degrees. Alex lost his grip along the centerline lacing and was sliding off. I was high on the starboard hull - but instinctively reached for him and that weight shift took us verticle and pressed the mast onto the water. The wind pressed against the vinyl coated tramp just like it was a sail and we were all instantly beneath the tramp with the Hobie turned turtle. This took no more than 10 seconds to occur.

Alex had his PFD on and was trapped against the tramp. I grabbed him and pulled him out and he was *already* shivering. The water temp was probably mid 60's. Sam was swimming about but also exclaiming about the cold. Both guys had on jeans, sweatshirts and fleece jackets. I had on a semidry suit. I was okay. The guys were not. They were turning blue and I was feeling awfully stupid for taking them for such risky sailing - in February.

Thankfully there were several other boats out. Within minutes one was alongside and I had the guys get into their cabin while I righted the boat with the help of a tow from another powerboat. The other sailor was great - and kindly took the boys back to our campground where we had dry clothes and sleeping bags. We put the bags in the car and started the heater while we changed clothes!

This COULD have been a major disaster. We were lucky.
Lessons Learned?
Teach your kids how to get out from beneath a capsized boat.
Don't sail with kids in such conditions especially if they are not dressed for the worst case.
If you have a Hobie or any beachcat - get a turtle preventer! I was amazed at how little flotation the mast provided.
Still - I can't blame this on the Hobie design. I didn't even remotely consider what might have happened if we capsized. I was waaaay over-confident that I could round up as needed.
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