Dudley survives a spanker! Finally, something respectable from the Gulfies!
Well well what a great 2 days of sailing we had, camped out on boat Saturday night on Matagorda bay, about 20 miles out, just short of the BIG jetties. We were about 3 miles from homeport headin in, when out of nowhere, and I do mean nowhere, northern front moved in and... I will tell you, it was a matter of 5 minutes or less, winds were 20-30 knots out of north. We did have a frontal system moving in , but wasnt forecast to arrive until 6 pm Sunday (this was at noon Sunday). It had different plans for us.
Beautiful skies, no cigar clouds approaching, a slight north wind that put us close hauled flying full sail and 130 jib at a blazing speed of 2-3 knots. We did not have time to douse the sails, BELIEVE me it does happen, all did within 5 minutes.. So here we were, mainsheet all the way out, main luffing wildly, jib was about to be ripped to shreds. had a very hard time furling jib in, but got it in first. (and jib did not get furled tight due to windy conditions,, will get to that part in a minute..hahaha). Now We had to get the main down, when all of a sudden my rudder swung over hard and snapped the radial stop on bottom of it, making the cable fall free from slot in radial.. NO WHEEL STEERING!!! AND the main was still up. I got the emergency tiller out and scrambled to keep boat heading into wind to no avail.. main sheet was all the way out , we heeled over at least 45 degrees and I looked at my wife and bro in law, my eyes were saying, "whether ya'll want to or not, we are gonna go swimmin'... BTW my bro in law is a stink potter, and wife is a newbie to sailing. I have sailed for 25 + years on and off, between wives, hahahahaha. ( newleyweds here) So anyways, Bro in law has to help me keeping bow headed up with tiller. We get it under into the wind, I tell them to lower the main. Well They did open up the retaining cleat from the lever being down to it being up, but they could not budge the main down at all. DUH... I had them come back to stern and I knew what the problem was,, The cam lever was not released all the way down So I had Gene (BRO IN LAW) take the wheel and I went and fully unlock the mainsheet. And lowered the main (very poorly due to gusts) of course. tried to motor, but the steering down to emergency tiller we couldnt keep headed up. So I decide kill the motor, drop the anchor, and ride it out.. This was about 1 pm now. laid out 75 feet of rode, it held well (mind you, bay is only 12 feet deep at highest at high tide. So I knew we had good rode.. So we decide to just ride it out, and low and behold the Jib started to unfurl.. Talk about a ride,, I went to bow and took me 1/2 hour to get jib tied back in place. Went back to tiller and tied it to aft cleats to keep it centered. Hour later the jib broke loose again. I always wondered why the previous owner, had all these bags of duct tape onboard?? So I get on bow again and 1/2 hour later I get it taped to roller furler. As I was finishing up jib, Gene greets me on the bow sliding on his butt, HANDING me a LIFE JACKET.. Yes I was dumb enough to go topside in 6-8 chop and 45 knot winds without a lifejacket. And yes I almost fell overboard twice.. My mistake,, VERY stoopid. Ya'll can chew me out good for that mistake I need it.!!!!!.. So anywaysssssssssss...
We were just sitting and riding it out, SNAP.... goes the anchor rope.. right after the telescoping boat hook goes overboard, Drifting towards 3 feet of shell shoal.... I say.. YANMAR dont let me down now.. Fired it up and made a record speed of 2 knots into 45 knot wind @ 2800 rpm. Yep the hunter 28 did good. problem now was my sunbrella/bimini, was HANGING 10 so to speak. We got the cover off and was heading home at 2 knots. Finally about 6 pm we pull into harbor, and were greeted at slip by 3-4 people, 1 of which as always has to be a smartass and say something like.." didnt ya'll watch the weather reports,?????" Typical know it all... I was gonna answer him and say.. " nope sure didnt !! We are just ole country hillbillies and cant even spell weather radio, cant watch the weather news cause we aint got no tv, heck we aint even got indoor plumbin'." But I guess my bro in law knows me well enuff to say " MARK lets go home" haha The other couple that greetd us was sporting a handheld, digital Wind meter. He showed me gusts ONSHORE of 46 knots. Needless to say we survived the stuff and I am very confident of the boat. I may question my self though on the life vest thing though. The boat looks like we were testing missles, inside and out at the dock where she sits today. (will tidy up tommorrow after resting today) So in summation, May I offer these few tips I have learned.
* Always grab the vest
* Lower canvas and lower early, ( it did gust, no warning , in 5 minutes)
* Chafe.... Anchor rope was riding on toe-rail. Carry rubber hose for chafe
* I guess give yourself 4-6 hours leeway on forecast fronts
* Teach your crew the sheets, etc what they do etc..
BTW on the radio, there was 3 PAN PANs' issued, 1 by a capsised CAT, another by a 23' stink pot taking on water, grounded at the rock jetties, and another was just concerned about their status in the gusts. So we werent alone. Hope they all made it in safe. thanks for letting me share this with ya'll on this VERY good forum
Mark and Karen
Marky Palcios Texas
1990 Hunter 28