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  #1  
Old 01-03-2014
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Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

I love hearing people's sea stories. They are always entertaining and I usually take away some new wisdom from having heard them. Whether it's funny or frightening, let's hear your best.

Back in my wreckless youth, after an all day marina party, I thought it would be great to leave the marina in the western basin of Lake Erie at 9:00 PM and sail solo in my 25ft Hunter some 160 odd miles to my parent's town.

No tiller pilot or furling system I grabbed a 12 pack and a bag of chips and threw the lines off. I listened to the broadcast notices on the way out of the marina. They predicted 10 to 15 knots out of the west. Perfect, I thought, down wind the whole way. I hanked on the sails and cracked a cold beer while the boat careened and took off down wind.

Fast forward six hours the wind is blowing 20 to 25 knots steady with 4 to 6 foot waves through Pelee Passage and South East shoal. I had a single chart of Lake Erie and an old hand held hiking GPS. I plotted positions with my fingers because I could not leave the helm. I had full sails up and try as I might, I could not leave the tiller without risking a broach. I tried to turn up wind, slacked the sails, it just wasn't happening. My rudder was almost entirely over powered.

The temps had dropped to 50 degrees and I was still in shorts and a tank top. I was borderline hypothermic but I could not leave the helm. The boat was absolutely surfing. I saw speeds of 15 knots down waves in pitch blackness. I encountered 5 different lake freighters at SE Shoal and simply hoped they could avoid me.

As the sun came up ahead of me I watched as little laser beams of light shot through the stitching of my head sail as it was being pulled apart at the seams. I was so exhausted I hallucinated whales, dolphins, and deer trotting across the water. I saw them as clearly as anything in the real world.

Eventually the wind tapered a bit, the sun rose higher, and I was able to reach a sweatshirt with my toes, stretching my body down into the salon. Later that afternoon I pulled into port a tattered, hung over mess. The trip had taken me about 17 hours. I must have averaged around 9 to 10 mph. That might seem like a tall tale but you should have seen the conditions. I raced sailboats from the time I was 10 and had never seen a boat pushed to that limit before or since.

Two weeks later I motored back in a glass calm with black flies covering every inch of the boat and me.
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2014
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

A diving trip.....

In the early 70s I was in the US Navy and stationed in Hawaii. We had a very active diving group and went out a lot for fun, and food at times. A sailors pay was not all that good at that time! I could always get air for my tanks, but could not afford butter for my lobster.

5 of us decided we waned to dive a site that was not off a nearby beach, but a ways down the coast on the north east coast of Oahu. One of the guys had a nice inflatable and we decided to launch it from a sandy beach, about a mile down the coast.

We all got there, checked the weather, geared up, put the 15 HP outboard on an filled the internal fuel tank, full. Off we headed to a very nice spot, anchored the boat and made our dive. It was shallow, under 30 foot most of the time, so we stayed down quite long. When we came up, the wind had increased - A LOT!!! We were being blown around quite a bit, but hey, we were young strong sailors. So, the 5 of us, all in heavy dive gear finally made it to the beach area. Underwater, there was a area of small rocks that ran parallel to the beach, then soft sand. I was at the helm and to make any way against the wind I had the throttle open quite a bit, but I knew we had filled up, so was not concerned.

As we got to the area close to the sand, the motor JUST STOPPED. WHAT????

I could feel 8 eyes staring into mine. Did I hit the rocks with the prop? Well, as trained, the other 4 guys went over the side just as you see in the movies. Lucky for us, the water was about chest high for the guys. We managed to tug and pull the boat in to the beach.

Once on the beach, we all rested up, took off our gear, filled out our log books, and then went about taking the inflatable down. As I took the engine off I almost fainted! The fuel tank was EMPTY!!! We had run out of fuel!!! And, we had not gone all that far.

The first thing that came to my mind was that had we not made it to the beach, the next stop would have been Japan! NOT A FUN TRIP for 5 close friends on an inflatable with no food or water!

From that time on I knew I did NOT want an inflatable as a dink aboard my boat. Fuel usage can vary widely due to wind, and they can't be rowed in a blow!

Greg
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2014
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

FIRST delivery sail.....

In the late 70s I bought a 25 foot Seaquest sail boat in Marina del Ray. At the time it was very crowded and a slip there was not available for me. So, I was sharing a big slip with another boat at the broker until I could fine one for myself. I did manage to out a few time so I knew the boat was in decent sailing shape. After some time, I found a slip in Long Beach, down the coast.

It was new years weekend and I had some time off, and 2 friends who wanted to go along. Both said they had sailed a lot and one said he had made the trip a number of times and it would be no problem at all. AND, we had friends who said they would sail out of Long Beach harbor to meet us and show us the way in.

We pulled out about 8 or 9 AM hoping to make the trip before night fall. The guy who had done this trip before (??) was sure it was no problem. Aboard we had a sandwich each and a small amount of water each. And a AAA road map! No warm weather gear. Off we went..........

As it turned out, it took a LOT longer than I thought! It was after 2 AM before we arrived and I had to be at work by 7:30 AM. No sign of an escort boat outside of the harbor. The guy who had done it before just kept saying it was just around the next point of land, over and over again as we passed each point! Both of the guys could hardly steer at all! We were COLD, HUNGRY, and VERY tired when we made it into the guest dock, not even my slip as I did not know which one I was assigned.

I kept thinking that if this was a rental boat, I would have just put it on the beach and walked away, I was that pissed.

I learned the lesson to NEVER go out again without full preparation, food and water,! Only count on KNOW crew. And do the navigation MYSELF no matter who else may help.

Later that day, I found out from the local new service on radio and TV that there had been an earthquake, and the Santana winds were blowing and at least 10 sail boats on or around the same track had been blown out past Catalina Island and needed to be rescued.

From that I learned I didn't do to bad in the larger view of things. That boosted my self confidence.

Greg
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2014
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

I think it was 2003 or 04 I was living in St Thomas, USVI running the local tugboat company there and in St Croix. One of the few nights I had off during the year with no ships coming in I went out for dinner with some friends.

After the festivities I stopped down at the tug dock to check on the boats and decided to take my dinghy for a night time excursion. The night was languid with a super full moon and not a breath of wind. The ocean was as calm as I had seen it in the 3 years I lived there.

The dinghy was a brand new 12 foot AB Rib with a 25hp Yamaha Enduro. She started on the first pull as always and I motored out into the harbor and opened her up. I flew out through the entrance channel past Honeymoon Bay and out into the ocean. All I had was a flashlight and my cell phone.

The rib was very fast. I'm not sure how far out I went but I must have cruised at 35 knots for a good ten or fifteen minutes. The ocean was like glass. I eased off the throttle, cut the engine, and laid back to stare at the moon and just soak up the atmosphere.

I woke up late in the morning, probably around 3 or 4, sat up and looked around at an empty horizon. No lights to be seen. The moon was lower on the horizon and a pang of fear shot through me as I realized what had happened.

I sat there for a few minutes letting my eyes adjust and scanning the horizon for any sign of St Thomas. I thought I could make out a very slight lightering of the sky over one particular spot and decided that was my best option. I started the engine and skipped across the water at top speed toward what I thought might be home.

After awhile I could make out the faint twinkling of a light, then another. I don't know how far I had drifted but had it been another hour my next stop would have been Puerto Rico 80 miles away.

I pulled up to the tug, climbed into bed, and fell fast asleep in one of the quarters.
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

Some good friends of ours convinced us that we should learn to sail.

I am eternally grateful for that suggestion although the lessons along the way were… interesting.

Our objective was to sail to Desolation Sound in British Columbia. In preparation I wanted to take the family on a “bigger sail”. The thought of sailing to Catalina in February sounded good.

We chartered a boat from Newport Beach and on our check out sail, my wife driving, and I playing sheet monkey, we tacked back and forth across Newport Bay. We encountered a few kids in lasers and the person doing the checkout simply said, “I wouldn’t hit those kids their parents have a lot of money”.

We somehow passed the checkout cruise and the next day we were off for Avalon. The open water sail/motor was uneventful and my wife dexterously snagged the mooring and we were home.

We all wanted to go to shore…. But I had never driven a dingy! So, I suggested, I take her out for a spin to be come familiar. I motored through the moorings laughing at the easy with which the 10hp motor handled. I decided I could take the family ashore and so headed back to the boat.

When…..

The motor stopped. Repeated pulls on the cord had no effect. I decided to open the gas cap. You guessed it! I was out of gas. Now, the gentle lapping action of the waves was pushing me onto a rocky shore.

Is this my fist lee shore, I wondered? This was not any rocky shore! But, a rocky shore right below the board walk in Avalon. Pride and safety competed in my mind for attention.

I looked for an oar. But in the proverbially expression… I was indeed…. without a paddle.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear? But a center console RIB and a man smoking a cigar. Picture it. White RIB. Cigar.

I asked for a tow and without taking the cigar out of his mouth or slowing down he simple reached behind him, grabbed a line, threw it to me and said, “Hold on”.

The bad asserety of that “Hold on” sticks in my mind.

The cigar smoking man in the white RIB saved me from eternal rocky damnation and saved my pride.

We had a great stay in Avalon and sailed up the coast to Two Harbors before heading back to Newport Beach.

But I now always check the gas.
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Last edited by optimator; 01-03-2014 at 11:36 PM.
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  #6  
Old 01-04-2014
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

So many screw ups, so little time.….

In 1978, the year that I met my beloved, I was 20 yrs old and tried to convince my dad to let me and some buddies take his 1 year old Catalina 30 from Ocean City NJ to Nova Scotia. We settled on Newport RI. So after finding the right paper chart in Philadelphia, we set off at 0600 on course 65 degrees (as I recall) with a 110 genoa and a borrowed spinnaker from my boatyard boss' Hinckley. We sailed offshore for about 36 hours and saw turtles, phosphorescence, and more stars than I'd ever seen before. We dead reckoned the whole trip and made landfall at about 2100 the next night in Great Salt Pond. We stayed a few days, one guy left the boat for another commitment, and 2 of us moved the boat to Newport to meet my dad. My buddy got off and dad and I took the boat home via LI Sound, accidentally gybing, blowing the gooseneck apart, and tearing the main 4' up the luff. Later, we left NYC in drizzle and ditched into Manasquan in driving rain and lightning. We made OCNJ the next day. LOTs of lessons learned that I carry with me today. I was hooked for life after that trip.

In 2008, I got to see Diamond Head at dawn after transiting from San Diego, the definition of sublime pleasure.
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Old 01-04-2014
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by luhtag View Post
I love hearing people's sea stories. They are always entertaining and I usually take away some new wisdom from having heard them. Whether it's funny or frightening, let's hear your best.

Back in my wreckless youth, after an all day marina party, I thought it would be great to leave the marina in the western basin of Lake Erie at 9:00 PM and sail solo in my 25ft Hunter some 160 odd miles to my parent's town.

No tiller pilot or furling system I grabbed a 12 pack and a bag of chips and threw the lines off. I listened to the broadcast notices on the way out of the marina. They predicted 10 to 15 knots out of the west. Perfect, I thought, down wind the whole way. I hanked on the sails and cracked a cold beer while the boat careened and took off down wind.

Fast forward six hours the wind is blowing 20 to 25 knots steady with 4 to 6 foot waves through Pelee Passage and South East shoal. I had a single chart of Lake Erie and an old hand held hiking GPS. I plotted positions with my fingers because I could not leave the helm. I had full sails up and try as I might, I could not leave the tiller without risking a broach. I tried to turn up wind, slacked the sails, it just wasn't happening. My rudder was almost entirely over powered.

The temps had dropped to 50 degrees and I was still in shorts and a tank top. I was borderline hypothermic but I could not leave the helm. The boat was absolutely surfing. I saw speeds of 15 knots down waves in pitch blackness. I encountered 5 different lake freighters at SE Shoal and simply hoped they could avoid me.

As the sun came up ahead of me I watched as little laser beams of light shot through the stitching of my head sail as it was being pulled apart at the seams. I was so exhausted I hallucinated whales, dolphins, and deer trotting across the water. I saw them as clearly as anything in the real world.

Eventually the wind tapered a bit, the sun rose higher, and I was able to reach a sweatshirt with my toes, stretching my body down into the salon. Later that afternoon I pulled into port a tattered, hung over mess. The trip had taken me about 17 hours. I must have averaged around 9 to 10 mph. That might seem like a tall tale but you should have seen the conditions. I raced sailboats from the time I was 10 and had never seen a boat pushed to that limit before or since.

Two weeks later I motored back in a glass calm with black flies covering every inch of the boat and me.
Oh hell yeah!!



You guys need to check out the BFS thread. Lots of great sea stories there.
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Old 01-04-2014
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

We were doing a trip around the cyclades in greece, it was a night run under engine...
There was absolutely no wind, a flat and oily sea with a starlight night and no clouds anywhere on the sky...

We were two on watch and just when i was going down the companionway to plot position, there was a flash and for an instance it got blindingly bright.
I turned to my mate at the helm, asking: 'what the heck was that? Lightning?'
But there were still no clouds anywhere and there was also no thunder to be heard...
Puzzled we went back to our routine after a while, when a second flash struck...
Only then we were looking straight up to the sky and saw the trail of the meteor still hanging there...

Those were no shooting stars, but meteors of a proper size and it was not over.
We let the boat have it her way, lay down on the cockpit sits and looked straight up for the best part of an hour while going in circles...
I do not know how much came down, but every few minutes one of those meteor struck the atmosphere, trailing a tail which shimmered in all colors and then explodes like a firework, hence the flashes...
From the bigger ones, the tail was hanging there for a couple of seconds after the rock disintegrated and blue, green, red, yellow sparks swirled in all directions...

It was a sight, i will never forget in my life...
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Old 01-04-2014
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

So I'm dock walking, admiring and dreaming When I hear 'Hay kid ,you want to come sailing?' Yup! and I'm aboard a brand new 68 ft schooner on her maiden voyage. The captain had built her himself and invited all his cronies out for a daysail. The sailing was fabulous and not without a couple of interesting mishaps but that's another story. The whisky was flowing profusely as we approached Port Angles and came about for Victoria which I happened to know was O degrees north (or close enough for the girls I go with) As we closed with the harbour entrance Brian ,the skipper said' Len ,we're pretty smashed;you'd better bring her in'.So I did . Pulled up to fisherman wharf, Jumped ashore with a spring and made secure. Brian and I became close friends over the years and traded labour,scrounge and his experience as a builder as I went on to build my Thane. Brian's gone now but his Passing Cloud lives still on the Salish Sea.
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Re: Tell Me Your Best Sea Story.

It was a summer day a few years back when I decided to anchor out in a small cove some 6 miles from my home port in Solomons, MD on the Chesapeake. The wind was light but as long as I could maintain close to 4 knots of boat speed I was a happy camper. On the Patuxent River there a spot appli named called Point Patience where the river makes a 90 degree turn. Plenty of water there in fact depths are over 100 feet in some spots. I was on a starboard tack close hauled and needed to tack to get around the point, however I knew that I needed to watch the depth finder since the river got shallow quite a distance from shore. No chart plotter was aboard, but I knew the river well so as the depth read 20ft going to 15 feet I was about the tack when the depth went back to 30. I continued on starboard and waited to see 20 feet again before making my tack. This time the depth went from 30 to 10 and I tacked...but as soon as the tack was completed...I was aground in a little under 6 feet.

So there I sat with sails fully up trying as I might to heel the boat over in the light wind with no result. I started the engine to see if I could motor off...nothing. Normally when I anchor out I take the dingy, but on this trip I did not so rowing out an anchor was not a possiblity. I did get the danforth out to see if I could throw it to kedge off. I then thought about going into the water with some life preservers and try to swim it out being aware that there was some current to contend with there. As I was pondering my options a coast guard work ship motored by some 200 feet away. I watched to see if they looked my way and thought about waving them over, but I still thought I could get the boat off by myself. Besides I wondered if they might put me through a complete search considering that I was wearing a t shirt with a mexican flag on the front. (just joking there) Anyway they did not pay any attention and continued on their way.

As I contiuned to toss that 25 pound anchor out to no avail and the thought of swimming that anchor out became less desireaable....I noticed a jet ski in the distance. I waved for him to come over and he did and I asked if he would carry that anchor out to deeper water. He said sure, but let me try to pull you off. I did not think that a jet ski would accomplish what my 50 hp diesel could not but went ahead and passed him a line hooked up on the bow. As he gunned the jet ski, I was back at the helm gunning the diesel....the boat started to move....and I was off ...finally the problem was solved!!

As I stood at the helm amazed at the ability of that little jet ski...I was suddenly brought back to reality and noticed that the sails had filled and I was sailing. And that jet ski was no longer in front of the boat, but was being drug sidways behind the sailboat with the good sameritrian frantically swimming after it. I cut the engine and luffed the sails and went to the bow to release the line so that the jet ski could be recovered. To this day I will never again be critical of jet skis distrubing a calm anchorage.
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