I was taking a novice for a sail on the SF Bay. I had her point the boat into the wind as I hoisted the main. I had a problem with the halyard and we were in shallow water, so I asked her to keep an eye on the depth. She told me we were in 2 feet (obliviously, calibrated for the keel). The bottom is mud, and we might go a quarter mile before we went to 1 foot, so... I said "no problem, tell me when we get to one foot". I hoisted the Main, and we sailed off, across the Bay.
We decided to do a down winder into the boulder lined, Oakland Estuary, (See where this is headed?). She was doing well at the helm and had clearly grasped the concept of keeping the jib full, and using it to avoid an accidental jibe. We were clipping along nicely at about 5 knots. There was nobody in our path, so I decided to go to the Head (near the bow on Port). I asked her to yell if she had any problems.
Fortunately, I decided to wash my hands in the Galley at the companionway on Starboard, instead of in the Head, on Port. As I looked out the portlight...I swear, if Lexan had not been in my way, I think I could have almost reached out and touched boulders! Fortunately, I could reach the tiller from the salon, and proceeded to shove it to Starboard! I had no idea what was on Port (i.e., other vessels), but it certainly couldn't be any worse then what was inches away on Starboard!
About ten minutes later, when my pulse returned to a normal rate, I asked her what she was thinking. She replied, "well... we were still in two feet of water, I thought we were OK".
Lesson learned: Don't assume anything with a novice, no matter how well they appear to be doing! I know what you are probably thinking. Believe me...this lady is reasonably intelligent!
This happened about four years ago, and it still makes me shudder. That could have been REALLY UGLY!
Last edited by L124C; 04-17-2013 at 02:47 PM.