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  #181  
Old 11-21-2009
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I need a term for the underwater sailing experience my wife and I "enjoyed" three years ago here just off Mount Desert Island, Maine. It has given me a new appreciation for underwater contours as I plan our routes.

We were motoring our 15' Marshall catboat out to Baker Island for a picnic on Storm Beach. It was a warm still July day. The 9.5 Evenrude obm was running smoothly. My wife had the wine and cheese out and we were relaxing, enjoying the warm sun. I had decided to slip between the outcrops of East Bubker's Ledge to look at the seals. There were no ripples on the water just gentle swells, less than 2 ft. high breaking on the shoals on the seaward ends of the two ledges. Our approach from Seal Harbor gave us a clear view of the ledges for 10 minutes and there was no sign of anything unusual. The gut we were motoring through about 6 ft. deep at 1/4 tide and 100 yards wide. Just as we were emerging from the "gut" a huge wave about 10 ft. high rose up in front of us and broke over our bow. I only had time to holler "hold on" and watch green water being parted by our mast about half way up as the breaker landed on us. If we had been 10 yards ahead of where we were hit by the wave it would have flipped us backwards. It filled the boat washing stuff out over the transom. The boat had to have disappeared from view by the looks on the faces of the folks fishing in a small skiff just off the ledges. A second wave about 2/3 the height of the first one followed before we could do anything. The boat was still afloat and the engine continued to run. This happened very qiuckly and I was now worried about what was next. We were at the point of origin of the first wave now and if a third rose up I figured we would be flipped backward. The water was very foamy and the prop was cavatating badly. I wanted to get out of there. The boat was full of water and heavy. There was no third wave.

We got clear of the ledges and used a bucket and our pump to bail. The obm never even shuddered. We emptied the boat, salvaged the rest of the wine and had tied almost everything in so didn't loose anything important over the transom. We did make to Baker Island for our picnic.

The 50 fathom line comes in close to the ledges there and I guess a couple of waves from SSE who knows where "rogues"? hit the ledges at the moment we were passing over the edge. Whew! I had water in my ear for two days because I turned my head sideways when the first one hit. We were lucky!

I now look at those undersea contours with a bit more interest as I plan our routes in the little boat. It wasn't a knock down. It was a swamping I guess?

Marshall has a very capable little boat in their Sandpiper.

George
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  #182  
Old 11-21-2009
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Originally Posted by downeast450 View Post
I need a term for the underwater sailing experience my wife and I "enjoyed" three years ago here just off Mount Desert Island, Maine.....
How big was the tide change? Large tide changes and bottom contours can combine to create random standing waves and whirlpools - we had a similar experience years ago off Trial Is near Victoria, and also outside Porlier pass when we transited early at the tail end of a big flood.
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  #183  
Old 11-22-2009
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Hi Faster,

Our normal tide at this point along the Maine coast is about 10 feet. There was no unusual tidal fluctuation then. I have certainly seen some huge waves here, much bigger than the two we encountered but only when a hurricane is moving up the coast and they are never isolated like these two were.

Things were "flat calm" and two waves appeared. It was bad luck that we were were we were but good luck that we were not a little farther out over the ledge when the first wave rose up. My first thoughts were that it was caused by the wake from a ship that got funneled into the ledges by the underwater contours. The 50 fathom line does converge just off the the ledges. The contours form a general 90 degree corner at the ledges with the sides of the angle extending East and South.

Waves are curious. Paying attention to the underwater contours has become standard for me now. We do have many serious tidal rips along our coast. Some are marked on the charts and should be taken very seriously especially when wind and tides are contrary. "The Old Sow" is a huge whirlpool at the entrance of Passamaquoddy bay and I have been through it many times. I have also been through the "gut" at East Bunker Ledge many times and never have seen that wave action before or since.

It made for an interesting day! That little boat is amazing.

George
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  #184  
Old 11-22-2009
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The ocean always has a surprise waiting for you. Don't know if you heard about these rogue waves last year in Boothbay Harbor (I wasn't there):

Rogue Wave Swamps Maine Harbor | Transworld Surf
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  #185  
Old 11-22-2009
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Thanks for the reference to the Boothbay waves. I can imagine that the currents we have here create all kinds of eddies and counter currents that can spin off the main flow the way a tiny whirlpool does in the brook behind the house only on a vastly different scale. It also makes sense that the water column experiences these kinds of currents at different levels, too. If something like that sweeps by the seafloor structure at 50 fathoms off Boothbay Harbor and South Port, the energy could get re-directed up into those parallel canyons. It does make it a challenge to be ready. My plan is to stay fit enough to hang on! Ha!

George
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  #186  
Old 12-17-2009
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I have heard a lot of people say they float a lifeline behind the boat. Is this a serious safety procedure, or just a last ditch effort in case you find yourself in the water? Has anyone actually been saved by this? And what are the odds that you will actually be anywhere near this line if you happen to find yourself overboard?
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  #187  
Old 12-17-2009
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I have heard a lot of people say they float a lifeline behind the boat. Is this a serious safety procedure, or just a last ditch effort in case you find yourself in the water? Has anyone actually been saved by this? And what are the odds that you will actually be anywhere near this line if you happen to find yourself overboard?
A good way to drown at anything over three knots.
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  #188  
Old 12-17-2009
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Caldwell talked about it in "Desparate Voyage" - saying that when he actually finally did go over and swam to the line it was so slippery with gunk he could barely hang onto it.

I also read a story about a single-hander that disappeared in the last year or so. He went over and grabbed the fishing line he was trolling. The hook came along and set in his hand and he was able to reel himself back on.

I'm thinking tethers are a very cool thing.
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  #189  
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Uh huh, as long as ya remember to hook on....
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  #190  
Old 12-17-2009
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At least you save the rest of the wine. Could have been worse with no wine.
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