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  #1  
Old 10-07-2007
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What went wrong?

Last week someone posted this in another thread (I spent the last hour trying to find it without success ):

Sailboat capsizes under Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

As the proud owner of a small boat, I remember being extremely horrified by this series of photos and would love to know:

1. Do waves like this occur regularly in the Bay area, or was this just a rogue?

2. Apart from not looking behind a bit earlier (soemthing I'm sure we are all guilty of) what did this guy do wrong?? Was it just a case of wrong place/wrong time? What could he have done to make this a happy ending instead??

Personally I can't see that there was much he could have done to save his boat, but I stand to be corrected on that.

--Cameron

Last edited by Classic30; 10-07-2007 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 10-07-2007
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Umm... he was in the surf zone... way too close to shore IMHO. There are certain places you really shouldn't take a sailboat... that place is one of them. Wasn't a rogue wave from what I remember reading... Basically, he made some serious navigation errors... and he and his boat paid the price for it.
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  #3  
Old 10-07-2007
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The dog is right. That is the south tower of the GGB. You do not go near that tower if you know what you are doing, he obviously did not and ended up in the surf. Notice the surfers? The current is so strong there at times, you can not sail and/or power away from it. The water can be shallow, and there are rocks, its an absolute nightmare at times. I could go on and on. Just follow the bouncing ball and exit and enter just south of the North tower, you'll be fine. The swell may be big at times, but will only break near the shore. There is a whole involved process of how the tides and current work in and around the Bay. I would highly suggest that you find some reading about it, take a local navigation class, or ask other sailors, if you are going to sail in and around the Bay.
Looks like he needs bottom paint.
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Last edited by bestfriend; 10-07-2007 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 10-07-2007
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I'm actually on the other side of the Pacific and not planning to take my Hartley anywhere near the SF Bay area for the forseeable future...

The reason for the questions was that I suppose there may be many places in the world where you could potentially get waves like that crossing a bar - but never having been terribly close, I wouldn't know.

Is it something that happens only in really shallow water?? Is a wave like that impossible to survive?

Thanks,
--Cameron
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Old 10-07-2007
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Ah yes, I see now, Aussie. Sure there are lots of places that will get you in trouble besides the shore break itself. Rogue waves in the open ocean under the right conditions will break, and there are formulas showing what is actually needed for that to happen. You're 18'er will get pitched without the need for a break though. All you need to do is catch the bow under water in the trough and you can go over. But, hopefully, you can plan to avoid those situations. Know where you are, where you are going, what the conditions are and will be for the near future, know the limitations of your boat and your crew. Yachtsea is docked in my marina (confiscated, I think) still with no mast, and she is a small boat. Not something I would take out the gate in 20 knot winds.
The problem with that area is that between the current and the wind, you can get taken where you don't want to go. The current along the shore can be going one direction, and the opposite direction 50 yards out. I live, work, surf, and sail in that area. I have seen surfers get taken out to sea, sailboats sail backwards, and people drowned in ankle deep water.
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Last edited by bestfriend; 10-07-2007 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 10-07-2007
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We've been out in a lot more than 20 knots.. It wasn't fun, but the wife is still sailing with me (she got the "Bravery Award" from the Club last year for her efforts! )

You can't always choose the weather - not around here, at any rate. Big waves are a bit of a worry though in a small boat and I'd like to know what to do when in them and they're breaking - apart from just hang on and get broached.

First step is reduce sail maybe??

--Cameron
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Old 10-07-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartley18 View Post
1. Do waves like this occur regularly in the Bay area, or was this just a rogue?
Are you kidding? I thought you Aussies were tough!? We Northern Californians sail in this stuff all the time. When we say we got our keelboats to surf, we really mean SURF!

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Old 10-07-2007
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I like to surf too, just not in the shore break! I'll save that for my board. So, yeah, reduce sail, it will help you control the boat. Read "the long way" he has a good description on how to surf the waves. Basically taking the waves off the stern quarter and steering down the face, not too far on the beam and not too far bow first. I don't have regular first hand experience, so others here can help more than me.
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Old 10-07-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fstbttms View Post
Are you kidding? I thought you Aussies were tough!? We Northern Californians sail in this stuff all the time. When we say we got our keelboats to surf, we really mean SURF!
Tough.. yes - stupid, no. We leave that to Northern Californians who seem to be able to demonstrate this nicely, complete with a photo-journalist to document proceedings.

I'm sure our Hartley will surf just fine - if we have to... but that brings me back to the original question: "What could he have done to make this a happy ending instead??"

--Cameron
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Old 10-07-2007
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In that situation, nothing. He was doomed. He had at least 15 knots behind him, looks like no motor, full sail, current, and obviously a poor sense of direction. The wave is too steep and strong there to expect to survive surfing it. Also, he is in shallow water, his keel may have hit bottom. What he was trying to do was make it between the surf and the tower. The space is too small for a sailboat in those conditions. He should have tried to beat out of there, but maybe he did and couldn't. Like I said, I have seen boats sail backwards! He was in a "hold on for your life" situation.
Looking at the first photo again, I say maybe try to turn to port and take the wave with the bow. The problem is that he may not have had any rudder control in the turbulent water of the break. When the water is foamy with air, you can be dead in the water.
Also there is a difference between surfing down the face and going faster than the wave, and the wave breaking over the stern. He has the break behind him pushing him, and the "undertow" of the last wave pulling. You wouldn't have that action away from the shore.
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Last edited by bestfriend; 10-07-2007 at 10:24 PM.
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