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Old 03-11-2010
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I have heard it said that anyone with any time on the Ocean has experienced a knockdown. I am not quite sure that is true but I can relay my experiences. "Tonic" you might want to read what I relay here, and you so far have been quite fortunate. I was transiting from Roatan Honduras to The Flats at Cristobal in Panama. As the trades are a constant 15 knots coming from the East going West and you are trying to go the opposite, this transit is rather difficult. Columbus spent 3 months attempting the same trip and when finally rounging the tip of Honduras he named the cape there, Cabo a Gracious De Dios. Roughly translated, thank God cape. The way to make this transit is to wait for a winter storm front to pass by and then run as fast as you can East following the front. It is a cold, wet, miserable trip. What happens is the winds shift from North East to North West and thus you are almost on a broad reach. My trip went as well as could be expected until I rounded Cabo a Gracious De Dios. The wind then decided to also round around and now I was on a broad reach all the way south to Panama with shore on one side, Reef on the other side and waves on my Port quarter. I took two knock downs by waves taller than my mast. I lost several pieces of equipment including my tri light which was some 38' above the deck. As I limped into the flats the local net came up and the weather man apologized for not reporting a major storm in the Western Caribbean over the past two days. He advised not transiting but staying put. You can imagine my response. It had a reference to Sherlock in it. As for preparation, I never went off shore with my hatched not battened and the hatch boards in place. I had a lock on my companion way hatch so it would not open unintentionally. Everything inside was stowed except what I needed for the transit at hand. I had two GPS's. One deck mounted inside the boat and one hand held outside the boat. I always checked one against the other and in the case of a discrepancy I referred to paper chart. I also have some 30 years of navigation skills thus have developed that inborn sense of long exposure and skill. Repairs to my boat took approximately 1 week. I also always wore a life vest with harness which was attached by tether to hard points in the cockpit. The Life vest I chose was an inflatable (manual). I choose a manual inflatable as I always wondered if an automatic might go off by itself at just the wrong moment. I found others to be to bulky and in and of themselves dangerous. I single handed a 30' boat with 6 berths thus I carried 6 kapok life jackets which were always within reach. I also had a hard dodger which slowed the boat because of wind resistance but kept me from getting washed overboard several times. Could I have kept from being knocked down? Probably not. Was I prepared? Yes.

Last edited by doslocos; 03-11-2010 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 03-11-2010
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Hey dos - welcome to SN dude. Great story.

I hope you don't mind if I steal it for the BFS thread.

(PS - We spent some time in Roatan and the mountains of La Ceiba last summer. Beautiful place.)

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Last edited by smackdaddy; 03-11-2010 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 03-11-2010
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Sometimes geography forces you to take whatever Mother Nature is dishing out.
Baggett and Sons Marine Restoration
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Bellingham, WA.

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Old 06-13-2010
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Cool missed that opportunity so far...

I almost had my 18 foot cat knocked down once when I was 12. I haven't had one over the next 43 years and 5 boats either. Guess I have been lucky.
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Old 06-15-2010
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Keep sailing and yes you are lucky. My knockdowns occured during blue water crossings.
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Old 06-15-2010
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I grew up with Hobie Cats on Lake Erie. If you weren't soaking wet and righting the boat at least three times per run, the wind just wasn't cooperating. I've been knocked down from all directions, bows first, port and starboard and even bows up knocked over on our backs. Also had both hulls totally submerged with the water is up to your neck but the boat is still moving forward. Seen water crashing over the deck on an Aircraft Carrier too.
Now I'm older...much ... and sail a mono hull on a small lake with tiny waves... miss the excitement but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to deal with what I used to.
'79 San Juan 7.7
Joe Pool Lake
DFW area TX
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(Not up North)
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Old 06-15-2010
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We've broached several times in 20+ years of racing, but the most memorable "knockdown" was this one - and it proved to be a pivotal moment on our then-young son's sailing life.

We were racing a Martin 242 - a high powered lightweight capable of planing into the teens - in upper Howe Sound, a coastal fiord in southern BC blessed with daily breezes into the 20s and flat water.. great conditions. This particular regatta was a windy one, with peaks to 25-30 knots and more-than-usually affected geographical shifts. We had done a couple of laps and had just rounded for the final run. I called for the spinnaker, and was immediately challenged by my wife and her friend.. but the competition was getting away and I overrode them.

Half way through the hoist, we were hit with a strong gust abeam and the boat layed over on her side. It was sudden and unexpected, and as a result we promtply dumped two ladies in the ocean. Our son and his buddy (both about 10 yrs old) had been hanging onto the stern pulpit and fortunately managed to hang on throughout this longish moment.

Aside from the issue of having two people in the water, the boat now lay (fortunately stopped) with about 5 feet of the mast underwater, the boat floating on her beam ends and the keel pointing above horizontal. My buddy grabbed our wives quickly and deposited them back "in" the cockpit by which time I'm sitting on the topsides paint trying to figure out why we're still layed over and haven't 'self righted'.

It soon became clear that the half-raised spinnaker had 'filled' underwater and was preventing the boat for rolling upright. "Blow the halyard" says I, and the boat finally stood up straight (rather rapidly).. at this point, the girls are truly "in" the cockpit, the spinnaker had stuck itself through the shrouds during it's submerged efforts, and when the boat came up the weight of the water in the kite tore off the spreader on that side.

Busily squaring away, dropping the main, and trying to recover the sodden kite,(and keep the rig up) no one on the stellar crew noticed that the guy who had been 'sitting on the topside paint' (me!) was, as a result of the sudden righting, now doing a pretty good imitation of the old "kilroy was here" graffitti, hanging over the side with a death grip on the toe rail.

In the end the errant 'skipper' was recovered as well, the rig secured and we returned to the club without further damage.

As to the pivotal role this played for our son, as a result of my disregarding the ladies' objections to flying the chute they pretty much refused to race with us after that. Our son and his friend (our boat partners' son) replaced the women at 10 years of age and sailed/raced with us throughout their teen years. As many of you may remember, he is a boat owner and avid racer himself now, no doubt at least in part due to that particular episode.....

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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Old 06-15-2010
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A knockdown happend to me once on Lake Superior on my C&C 36. It was a beautiful sunny day and was blowing about 15 all day. I could see a puff of wind coming across the water but it looked the same as all the other puffs we had that day. No big deal, right?

The wind hit us while we were on a beam reach, port side. The gust had to be in the 30+ range. We were sailing with a 105 and main and the wind just laid us flat over on the starboard rail and held us there. The spreaders were about 4 feet from the water. My friend Fred, who is 6"8", was holding on to the port primary winch and his feet were in the water. I was standing on the starboard cockpit coaming and hanging onto the wheel and backstay.

We stay in this position for about 10 seconds, but it felt like an enternity.
We eventually came up and there was very little damage. I saw another gust coming so turned to starboard and let the wind push us. The second gust was not quite as strong, but I figured if I am going to lose the rig, let it fall forward, away from the people.

The entire ordeal last less then 15 minutes. After it was over there was barely enough wind to sail, so we motored 5 miles back to the marina. When we came in we were the only boat without major damage. Other boats in the marina that were out had shredded sails, furler drum failures, and one broken boom. Fred's wife had been sleeping below on the port settee and was thrown into the saloon table. She got a big bruise and the table suffered a bent hinge. We were very lucky.

That's Lake Superior for you.
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Old 06-15-2010
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When on a close reach trying to round the Cape Canaveral shoals, I was
already leaning pretty good in 15-20 knots and fell off a wave, lost my
outboard and some other items in the cockpit in the process, but popped
right back up. So you don't need to be in storm conditions, takes just 1
rouge wave....
PS31#111 Cielo Azul
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Old 06-16-2010
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doslocos is on a distinguished road
knock downs

Never thought this topic would bring about such excitement. To the lake sailors, my sympathies. I learned to ride the main sheets in order to keep from a knockdown in Wisconsin lakes and on the Great Lakes, all of which I sailed as a much younger and less experienced sailor. On lakes one usually does not cleat the main as you would on the Ocean. The reason is exactly for the reasons ennumerated by our hobbie cat friend. If you do cleat tyhe main you are just asking for a knockdown. I was very surprised that this habbit of holding the main sheet in ones hands is very hard to break. It probably took me two to three years to get brave enough to cleat the main once I started sailing off California shores. The practice of holding the main in ones hands is by the way very tiring and hard on your hands. I remember some very memorable cramps that took days to get rid of. To all good sailing.
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