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Old 03-31-2011
tdlpps tdlpps is offline
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Lowering the jib in increasing winds and bobbing into Oceanside Harbor

I didn't get close to anybody else until I was almost to Oceanside. The winds had increased, I could see a light squall line to the southwest and two converging swells were beginning to toss me around. I knew I should lower the jib so I lashed the tiller, decreased the throttle and placed the nose into the wind.

The lashing didn't keep me straight into the wind and the steering friction setting on the outboard loosened up enough that I began to motor around in a wide circle while I lowered the jib. I literally wrestled the sail down onto the deck while I heard the outboard rpms increase as I heeled over far enough to loosen the grip of the prop on the water. I kept a bungee cord tightly in my teeth throughout the ordeal and was able to secure the jib on the foredeck, worked my way aft and released the tiller and straightened the outboard.

I was exhausted and downed a half liter of water in a few chugs as I lashed the outboard to prevent it from moving from side to side too much.

Two power boats were making their way into Oceanside Harbor and I moved myself into sequence behind them both so I could mimic their lines and approach angle. The swells were not breaking but were meeting at the harbor mouth and caused a lot of jostling around as I motored in under the main. I cleared the harbor opening and things settled down quite a bit. A light rain turned into a steady downpour as I neared the guest slips.

I pulled in and wound up my drag line and placed the fender on the lazerette as I approached the guest slip with the main still raised. I would have liked to lower the main, but didn't feel I could turn into the wind in the narrow opening and get the sail lowered without someone on the tiller, so I approached the dock at an upwind slip, next to, much too close to, a really pretty Cape Dory.

The main was producing too much power and I placed the engine in reverse in an attempt to slow me down a little. I didn't notice that the fender on my drag line had fallen in the water. It very quickly ended up in the prop and the engine stalled. I was committed to my line but the wind was pushing me too close to the Cape Dory so I released the main, shoved the tiller over and missed the other boat. I was able to circle around one more time and ended up two slips upwind on the downwind side of the slip. This was a much better position and I was able to set her gently against the dock and port side fender and secure the two port side dock lines before I lowered and flaked the main.

I was tired before the excitement but was now ready to fall into the bunker and sleep the entire night. In the rain, I secured the boat, removed the outboard, removed the fouled line, cleaned up the cockpit, and headed below for a sandwich.

I called my family to let them know I made it safely to Oceanside. As I ate my sandwich and treated myself to my first Diet Coke of the day, it went from dusk to dark. It was after hours and the Oceanside Harbor Police had other duties to perform rather than worry about checking in the little blue boat in the guest slip. As I ate my sandwich I monitored radio calls on 16 as the Coast Guard was dealing with a disabled boat off the coast that was abandoned by half the crew in a dinghy who went off looking for help. Now the other half was about to get help but no one knew where the dinghy had ended up. A man left his boat in a dinghy to get help for the rest of his family, who waited for him in a perfectly secure, floating power boat.

I didn't hear the resolution of the incident before turning off the radio, putting on some dry clothes, and lying down on the dinette bunk. I listened to the rain and the port fender squeaking against the dock most of the night.
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