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Rogerdshoemaker 10-30-2006 05:24 PM

Sinking Dink in tow
I just had to share this someplace, and I never have posted here before, so I thought I would give it a shot. I enjoy several sailing lists and boards, but recently re-discovered this one.

On Sunday it was blowing a fair-weather storm on Cape Cod; Sunday was wind AND rain. So Sunday I went down to look at the sea conditions, and figured Nantucket Sound would be the most lively of our local waters,as the wind (40-50 kts) was SE.

I went out to Kalmus Beach in Hyannis,and observed the half-crazy wind surfers who seem to be drawn to high wind like moths to the flame. Then I went over to look at the Lewis Bay anchorage. Most boats were off their moorings, but not all. Then I noticed that there was a guy on what I would judge to be a 40 foot or so, clipper-bowed ketch who was casting off his mooring. I got out my birdwatching binoculars. Even the protected harbor here was quite choppy, with white caps.

He started motoring toward the inner harbor and I noticed that his inflatable with outboard was very low in the stern. Then she went under. He was towing her completely submerged! I drove into the inner harbor, and around to another vantage point. I saw him pass, but no painter in sight.

Expensive day. But after thinking about it, what could he do? He was alone on board, it was rough, there was no way he could wrestle the sunken boat out of thwe water without risking his craft. I assume that his inflateable must have somehow deflated, at least partially, from the strain.

If your are the master of that craft, my condolences. But you did get that beautiful sailing craft out of harm's way.

And maybe I did not correctly construe what I saw.

There was a picture of another beautful boat of about the same size fetched up on the pilings at the Hyannisport Dock in the Sunday Cape Cod Times. Almost nothing is quite so sad as a beautiful sailing vessel in extremis.

Katty Bay
Picnic Cat #123
Cape Cod

sailingdog 10-30-2006 05:37 PM

It may be that he was towing the boat by a bridle attached to just the forward towing points, rather than a four-point bridle, that puts most of the load on the aft attachment points. Doing so puts a lot of strain on the two points that can't afford it, and will also tend to submerge the bow. Not really a bright way to tow an inflatable. Also, towing one with an outboard still attached, in heavy seas is just asking for trouble.

The other thing that could have happened is that the painter could have snapped. Many dinghy painters are made of polypropylene, and polypropylene is extremely sensitive to UV degradation. If the painter hadn't been replaced or inspected recently, it may have snapped under the strain of towing a swamped dinghy in heavy seas.

There is a large sloop, at least it appears to be a sloop, in New Bedford harbor that is moored and has only a stub left of the mast. Very sad to see. Most of the boats that end up in trouble in storms like the one that just came through are due to a lack of diligence and attention by the owner.

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