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post #1 of 2 Old 09-05-2006 Thread Starter
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Please relate

I have been in sales (as a profession for many years), and in sails as a hobby for 4 years. I say that because in sales as a profession when I find I am in a slump I start feeling the "this has never happened to anyone else blues." Although I know that to be false, it sometimes is hard to dig out. I have found some similarities in sailing, because no matter how bad or distressful things can be on the water, someone else can hear your story and smile at it because they have had the exact same thing happen or that was just the tip of the iceberg for their adventure.

My saga. It is not filled with near death or grave misfortune, but it does feel like the trip is plotting against me.

I was supposed to leave Norfolk on Thursday for my trip down to Oriental. I was held off by Ernesto. I tried to leave Saturday morning to get to the lock's opening on time at the Great Dismal Swamp, but was thwarted by 25 to 30 mph gusts. My little boat felt like it was running on a treadmill for about an hour as I went no where. A very white knuckling experience for a single handed sailor on his first long cruise. Needless to say I turned around to wait out the storm and was left to brew with my emotions of defeat and frustration as my trip was just delayed another day.

By Saturday afternoon the storm had lifted enough for me to try to make the run to the locks to the swamp for the next morning. I got to the first bridge on the ICW and learned that the a few waves that I had taken that morning had apparently knocked out my VHF. I was finally able to open the bridges with what is now coined as the "Abierto Shuffel." It is an awkward dance involving a 3mill spot light, a flag, and some moves that would make Travolta blush. I figured I would give it a shot before mounting three horn blasts, because no one likes to get honked at.

The next day I make it through the first locks and to the swamp to then next drawbridge with time to spare. (As a side I highly recommend this route, but if doing it solo, go into it with happy thoughts.) I cut the engine off to give it a is still off two days later. That's right, my boat is still in South Mills waiting for to be repaired and the locks to let me through. I spent two days there dreaming of sailing but getting trumped by a two stroke. If you have ever been to south mills, it is not a place to get stuck, but its saving grace is the Southern hospitality is out of this world. To the people there I tip my hat. I had to leave my boat as work called an I am heading back in two days. The pit in my stomach does not want to subside.

Anyways, it seems like every day there is tragedy and bliss. Have you ever felt like a cruise is plotting against you?
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post #2 of 2 Old 09-05-2006
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Umm...not to sound too negative, but you might want to take some boater education courses... the problems you had at the bridge could probably have been avoided if you knew the proper sound signals for requesting a bridge opening.

I would also recommend you get a copy of the Rules of Navigation and read them. All of the information regarding light and sound signal are in there, as well as protocol for a lot of different situations.

It sounds like the problems you had on Saturday morning were primarily self-inflicted. Better planning and anticipation of the weather and what kind of winds it would bring would have allowed you to avoid that. Why did you leave the marina knowing that there was a storm sitting there that morning.

Sailing in the ICW is often now possible, and motoring is often your only feasible option. Did you check out the outboard after you got to the boat on Saturday? Do you carry a spare fuel filter, impeller, and the tools to make basic repairs to the outboard on board your boat?

Do the locks require that you have a certain number of docklines of a given length? Many locks do. You might want to check before heading back to your boat. Also, do you have sufficient fenders and fender boards to protect your boat while the lock is filling/emptying? If not, get them and bring them with you.

Being prepared and proper planning make a cruise much more enjoyable, and far less dangerous. BTW, for what it is worth.

Requesting a bridge opening via sound signals:

A long blast followed by a short blast* is the proper signal to request a bridge opening. If the bridge is closed, and the bridge tender will be opening for your request, he will reply with a long and short blast of the horn. If the bridge is already open, you are required to signal with a long and short blast, as if requesting an opening, and if you do not receive a reply, it is considered permission to proceed. If the bridge tender will not be opening (in the case of a closed bridge) or it is not safe for you to proceed (in the case of an open bridge), the bridge tender will respond with five (5) short blasts. This is the danger signal, and indicates you should not attempt to proceed.

*A long blast is 4-6 seconds in duration, and a short blast is about one second in duration.


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Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 09-05-2006 at 10:16 AM.
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