After reading all of this BFS thread (yes, Page 1-100), Im sitting here thinking, wow i really need to get out and get my own BFS story it finally occurs to me at 5:30 AM that i do have a BFS, at least as far as i can remember( it was about 9 years ago, I was 12, I think)
In the summers for a couple years, when I was much younger, I went to a sailing "day camp" where they put us in little el toro sailing dinghies and taught how to sail in Wollochet Bay by yelling at us through a bull horn from a boston whaler(okay it wasn't quite as evil as it sounds). anyway on one of the last days of the camp, it was blowing like snot (well probably not, seeing as how that bay is pretty well protected, but i was 12, give me a break) and all I had to do was sail out to this bouy, round it, and sail back. So i start heading out and i decie to trim my main in to really get going, to the point where my el toro is actually heeling about as much as one of those little boats can, and reach the mark very rapidly, and decide to tack very fast and let out the main sheet at the same time, at least thats what i recall happening. the next thing I know im flying out of the boat and into the water. by the time i get my bearings i discover that the boat has turteled, and Im floating about 20 feet away from it. The instructors made me right it myself and sail it back by myself(remember I'm 12, at this point i think they are Nazi's) when theres a good 6 inches of very cold Puget sound water in the bottom, on avery windy, very overcast day. But it was worth the standing ovation I recieved at the dock.
I had a short BFS yesterday. The forecast was partly thunderstorm but we get a lot of days like that here on the gulf coast. My sloop is on the hard right now while I give it a new bottom job. Iíve learned my lesson. I will not buy anti-foul paint that is on clearance sale ever again. My job has been driving me crazy and I really needed some sailing Zen so I decided to go out on our H-16. Iíve named our H-16 ďTherapyĒ as in mental therapy. I keep it on the beach about two miles from the house and ten miles from my office. If I can only get out for an hour it does much good for my mental state of mind after a rough day at work. Like I said the forecast was partly thunderstorm but with 15 to 20 mph winds and a high of 72. Thunderstorms, no worries, just sail around them right? No one else really wanted to go so I reef the main and headed out by myself. I was having a great time out in the middle of Escambia bay when I got caught by a thunderstorm that I couldnít sail around. It came sweeping in fast from the west and it covered the whole bay. Iím pretty sure the wind speeds topped 40 MPH because Iíve been out with the hobie in 35 mph wind plenty of times before. I was afraid to try to run downwind because the visibility dropped to about 20 feet and I didnít want to find one of the piers or seawalls on the west side of the bay at mach5. With that kind of wind speed I would have probably be knocked down in a forward flip anyway. Not Fun! I was doing okay for about twenty minutes. I had the main sheeted down hard at the starboard end of the traveler. I was sailing as close to the wind as I could using only the jib and luffing the main, headed generally northwest. The only thing that I could hit in that direction was salt grass flats which wouldnít be too painful to run into. It was pretty exiting, the bay went from almost flat to a three to four foot chop I was hiked out as far as I could get without the trap harness on, and really fun too. Then my tiller extension broke. I managed to keep control for about ten more minutes using the cross bar that connects the rudders but I couldnít hike out to balance the boat. A quick change in wind direction tore the plate the jib sheet attaches to loose from the jib. I lasted about two minutes with that kind of wind hitting the mainsail. When it knocked me down I didnít even go in the water I was at the back of the tramp so I just held on and dropped down on the hull that was in the water. The storm moved on after another ten minutes. When I got my righting line set up and I tried to right the boat I found out that I didnít have enough body mass to pull her over. Now I know a bad point to losing weight. When I weighed 225 I could right the boat by myself. Luckily the wind was pushing me toward a part of the shore that was shallow enough that I would be able to avoid obstacles like piers and sea walls while I righted the boat. Two yuengling and three cigars later I finally drifted in to shallow water.
My first BFS was on our CAL25 “Warhorse”. It was combined with another momentous event which happened to be the first time that I single-handed her. I didn’t plan to be out on Pensacola Bay by myself in thirty-five mph winds, and no, there were not any 18 foot swells like I’ve read about all of you old salts experiencing, but a five to eight foot chop the first time you’re on your own can be exciting too. My son came in from South Carolina for a shot visit and spent several days helping me work on our worn out cars. On the fourth day we stopped after lunch and I asked what he wanted to do for fun. He immediately said we were going to sail Warhorse over to Pensacola Beach, drop anchor, eat some wings at Hooters, listen to some good live music at Capt Fun’s Beach club and after we slept in the next morning enjoy a good day of sailing the long way back. I told him that would work except that our outboard was in a barrel because it wasn’t running very good. Of course we worked on the outboard next and pretty quickly had it cranking and running like new. We threw the ice chest, outboard and a few clothes in the truck and headed for the marina. By the time we bought gas, drinks and a few snacks, drove to the marina and loaded the boat the sun was going down and a full moon was coming up. Which brings up another first for me; sailing at night. The outboard motor that ran like a sewing machine at home decided not to crank after the trip to the marina, but we were determined to go sailing. Did I mention that my son and I both are hard-headed and oblivious to bad omens. We dug out the ancient trolling motor that I keep under the cockpit, clamped it to the stern and headed out of the bayou. Neither one of us had bothered to check the weather so we didn’t think about the wisdom of heading out with 36 mph winds. The trip over to Pensacola beach went quite well, but I was surprised when I found out that only the red buoys had lights on them. I didn’t hit any of the green buoys but it is kind of exciting when by moonlight you realize that you are headed right for one. To get to the Hooters at Pensacola Beach there is one bridge to go under right before you get there. It’s not easy to tact your way through a bridge when a 35 mph wind is blowing straight through it from the other side. By the way, we also learned that an antique trolling motor will not push a twenty-five foot sloop into a 35 knot wind in a heavy chop. No problem, we sailed into a pocket cove named Little Sabine and dropped anchor after finding a nice sandbar to get stuck on and dragged her off of by throwing out the anchor and pulling like draft horses. A short paddle to the beach in our inflatable kayak followed by a two block walk got us to our destination. The wings and music were great. We went back to the boat and had a great nights sleep. The next morning we woke up to a boat that was heeled over at about 40 degrees. Apparently we had just enough road out for Warhorse to swing over to a 3.5 foot deep area before the tide dropped two feet. Our great day of sailing just got delayed till high tide. My wife drove over to the island and took us out for lunch and a used outboard engine shopping trip. I’ve been accused of being pretty cheap and stayed true to myself that day. I didn’t find a single outboard that was worth the price that day, so I bought a new trolling motor. I forgot to mention that the wind was at thirty mph with gusts to forty that next day and blowing straight down the narrow channel needed to get through to get back to Pensacola sound. I didn’t think about that one the night before. When we got back to Warhorse she had decided that she was through laying on here side so we paddled out with the new trolling motor and a new marine battery. It didn’t take us long to clamp on the new motor, pull up the anchor and get under way. Warhorse was moving forward into the wind just fine until we turned to starboard to head for the channel. When the wind hit the side of the boat we lost all control. The trolling motor wasn’t strong enough. I dropped the anchor before we ended up on the sandbar again. We clamped the old trolling motor beside the new one and tried it again with the same results. At that point I figured out that I was spending another night in Little Sabine. My son’s wife wanted him home so I took him “under protest” to the beach for a ride to his truck so he could head back to South Carolina. The next morning the winds had not eased at all. I refused to pay Seatow $150 to tow me the 500 meters out to Pensacola Sound where I had sailing room. Did I mention that I’m hardheaded and cheap? I decided to leave Little Sabine the way the pirates did in the old days. This method involved two anchors, two 100 foot lengths of rope, the kayak and a lot of paddling and rope pulling. Two guys came by in a trawler and gave me a tow out. I offered to pay them but they wouldn’t hear of it. Your thinking isn’t this supposed to be about BFS right? Okay here it is. After they towed me out of the cove I raised sail and Warhorse took off like a sports car. Sailing single handed was really cool. Pensacola Sound didn’t have much wave action because it isn’t very wide. When I rounded the point and got into Pensacola bay it was a totally different story. Pensacola Bay is wide enough at that point for the wind push up a five to eight foot chop. That was the first time that I had ever got the rails on Warhorse wet, it was an awesome experience. I started thinking ahead to getting back into our slip at marina in Bayou Grande when I suddenly thought crap!! Lazy Jacks! We always keep our lazy jack lines stowed on the mast when we raise sail because the main hangs up on them sometimes. I was thinking it was going to be pretty ugly dropping the main by myself in that kind of wind without the lazy jacks. I got my auto-tiller out of the cockpit storage and hooked it up. That wasn’t an easy feat with wet rails and five foot chop. When I turned it on nothing happened. Double crap!! Well the only thing to do was lash the tiller and get it done. Going forward and setting up the lazy-jacks was one of the most exciting things that I’ve done in my life, especially the part about being on the downwind side of the boom in five foot chop with wet rails. It was pretty close to the excitement level firing the main gun on an Abrams Tank. A few time there I thought a gust was going to knock her down. After I got back in the cockpit I decided two things. That if I was ever in that situation again, I would either take a chance dropping the main, or at least put on a life jacket. The rest of the trip home was awesome. I am looking forward to the day that I can get her out in winds like that again, but not by myself.