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post #1521 of 3274 Old 10-01-2009
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Great thread Smackdaddy!

When I finally figured out what BFS means on the FC a minute ago I came over here ASAP.

Thanks for posting my BFS story.

Keep your rail wet,

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post #1522 of 3274 Old 10-02-2009
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For all you BFS freaks out there I've got a book for you! I'm in the middle of it and I can't put it down. These guys raced, single handed, through the Southern Ocean, around Antarctica and past cape Horn in 60 foot seas and Force 12 winds. It's the story of the 1996 Vendee Globe. It was the mother of all BFS.....

Godforsaken Sea
Racing the World's Most Dangerous Waters


here's a small excerpt:
When the system overtook Dinelli's position, the wind increased until it was blowing close to hurricane strength—sixty-four knots and over—and gusting to eighty knots. It quickly whipped up the constant swell of the Southern Ocean into huge seas. Dinelli's boat started surfing on waves that grew to between fifty-five and sixty-five feet—like fast-moving, always-toppling six-story concrete buildings. It was apocalyptic sailing.

Dinelli couldn't stay on deck because it was too dangerous. From inside the damp, frigid cabin, trying to make sense of the shape and steepness of the waves, he did his best to direct the onrushing boat by manipulating his autopilot. But control was impossible. Algimouss capsized, violently inverting in a few seconds. The tremendous shock compressed the mast so that it pierced the deck; the boom smashed through one of the large cabin windows and water flowed in. It was Christmas day morning.

Dressed in a survival suit that had got torn in the capsize, Dinelli wedged himself into a corner of his upside-down cabin. Bit by bit, the water displaced the trapped air in the hull. During the capsize, the mast had snapped off a few feet above deck level. The standing rigging held it more or less in place, and it acted as a kind of keel, holding Algimouss stably inverted. After three hours or so, however, wrenched by the boat's furious rolling and pitching, the mast broke away completely. Freed of the resistance of mast and rigging, the three-ton bulb of ballast at the end of the keel regained its leverage, and the boat rolled upright again—sluggishly, because of the weight of water inside. As it did so, Dinelli, mostly underwater, half-swam, half-walked his way off the cabin top and down the sides until he was standing on the floor again. Now he could activate his satellite emergency radio beacons. He hadn't set them off sooner because the signal wouldn't have been able to penetrate the boat's upside-down carbon-fiber hull.

Within a couple of hours of righting itself, the boat had almost completely filled with water. The waves slammed in through the table-sized hole in the deck with such force that they broke the hull's watertight bulkheads. Each Vendée Globe sixty-footer was required to have three of these, dividing the boat's interior into compartments that could be sealed off, limiting the amount of inflowing water. But no material could withstand the force of these seas. Soon the deck was at water level. Each enormous wave seemed determined to sink the boat.

Dinelli climbed onto the deck and tethered himself to the stump of the mast, struggling to stay on his feet as the boat lurched and plunged. The waves crashed over him continuously. His torn survival suit soon filled with water. The hull of Algimouss was completely submerged, its deck barely visible in the foam of breaking seas. Alternately soaked by waves of frigid Southern Ocean water and blasted by a windchill well below zero, Dinelli felt his body temperature begin to drop.

He stood on the deck of his boat for the rest of Christmas Day, through the high-latitude austral summer night, and all the next day, the wind never dropping below gale force. Adrift in the Southern Ocean at almost fifty degrees latitude, twelve hundred miles south of Australia, closer to Antarctica, he was as alone and exposed as any human on earth could possibly be. As the second night approached, the twenty-eight- year-old sailor was exhausted and hypothermic. He knew without any doubt that he would not be able to survive until the next morning. Death was very close.

A bigger excerpt can be found here.

Peter Powers
1979 TR/FK #1390
Bayview Marina,
Lake Ray Hubbard
Dallas, TX

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post #1523 of 3274 Old 10-02-2009 Thread Starter
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Sweet. I'm on my way to Amazon.

Hey dude, don't forget to vote in the BFS Cup poll.
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post #1524 of 3274 Old 10-02-2009
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Ok, this isn't a death defying BFS, just a nice BFS. Actually two.

This past Monday, I took two customers/friends sailing. They are also crew when we race so we know each other well. We sail the Chesapeake and in July and August, they turn the wind machine off. In September, they turn it back on and in October they turn it up more. So this is prime season.

We left the dock with 18kts and it built to 20 gusting to 25, then 25 gusting to 30. We put in double reef and 100% jib from the start and Victoria sailed beautifully. We did about 25 miles and by 1700 we were back to 18 gusting to 20. Just a fun day, no drama, just fun.

On Wednesday, I took out an employee (Tim) who's only been on a sailboat one other time. We left the dock with 10-15kts and sailed a beam reach into the St. Mary's River off the Lower Potomac River. At 1600, we turned around when I saw St. Mary's City disappear behind a wall of black cloud and rain. I thought that the squall would pass behind us, but........

I felt the air temp drop about 5 degrees and thought "Oops, shoulda reefed." Then the wind jumped from 15 to 25 in about 2 minutes. Not a huge leap, but enough to get your attention. For the first time ever, we went from full main to 1 reef, to a double, to all down in about 5 minutes. We tried to sail with 130% jib but Victoria kept rounding up. I kept telling Tim to fall off while I finished securing the main, but he couldn't pull it off. No big deal, just a bit noisier and more heel that I like. If we had more hands, the evolution would have been smoother. Oh well. We eventually reduced the jib to about 50% but not before I was smacked in the ear with a flogging 1/2" jib sheet. Still swollen and hurts. We eventually shook out all the reefs after the squall passed. Fun day and Tim has a new respect for the water.

Now I'm sitting at my desk (about a mile from the water) and thinking, "Should I dial into my teleconference at 1400 from the boat?".

PS. My current Avatar shows the boat in about the same spot where the squall hit us. It was July during Gov Cup.

Sabre 38 "Victoria"

Last edited by Sabreman; 10-02-2009 at 10:39 AM.
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post #1525 of 3274 Old 10-02-2009 Thread Starter
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Very nice Sabre. Honestly, the best part about telling your BFS stories is that it makes you want to back down to your boat for more.

As for the first sail - 20-25 is the sweet spot for me on my C27. So I know exactly what you mean about it being fun.

When it starts getting into the 30s, especially within 2-3 minutes, things can get a bit more challenging.

BTW - I vote tele-c from the boat!
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post #1526 of 3274 Old 10-02-2009 Thread Starter
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Hey SDog - you were out sailing all summer. Did you score a BFS?
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post #1527 of 3274 Old 10-03-2009 Thread Starter
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Not really a BFS per se, but a great story I ran across from Jeff_H. Maybe the Eurpie did have a BFS. We'll neva know.

Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
And all of this reminds me of a story from when I was Newport's age. I know that I have told this story here before. Sorry to those who have read it.

In the early 1970’s, Dinner Key (Just south of Miami on Biscayne Bay) was a gathering place for a disparate collection of vaguely nautical types. A strange maritime amalgam that ranged from the white be-blazered swells at Coral Reef yacht Club to the castoffs that camped on the small barrier islands that marked the entrance to Dinner Key. It included the retired military lifers with their proper yachts, and the hippies with their strangely cobbled together vessels; old lifeboat conversions and weirdly converted wooden race boats, old Bahamas sloops and Cuban fishing smacks. This was time of great polarization in this country, but on the waterfront, life was a strange blending of diverse factions, living shoulder to shoulder, a stirring and mixing of opposites pulled together by our common gravity of being sailors.

This mix of the rich and the raucous, the saint and the stew bum, was constantly changing as boats and people came and went. I was there at ground zero, the D.I.T (Do it yourself) yard at Dinner Key, a 23-year-old, fresh out of architecture school, restoring a wooden folkboat, Diana; a lapstraker that was a year older than myself. It was not unusual to visit or be visited by others working on their own boats when the heat became too great to continue, or the skies opened up and we all ran for cover in the great shed. There was this sense of community as we each wrestled with each of our boat’s own particular form of torture. Mine was keel bolts. But that is another story.

Occasionally, there would be one boat and one person that really needed the help of the community and the Irish Kid was one of those. The Irish Kid (I don’t know if I ever knew his name) came to the States from Ireland to see his father who was a dog trainer at the greyhound racetracks. His visa only allowed the Irish Kid a few months in this country, and he had already extended it as far as he could. Immigration had ordered him to leave by noon of a certain day after which they would arrest him and deport him.

For a reason completely lost to time and myself, the Irish Kid had decided to leave by buying a boat and sailing to the Bahamas, at that time still a British possession. He had bought a neat little 20 or so foot plywood sloop, which was more or less a miniature Folkboat interpreted in multi-chine plywood. She was a pretty little fractional rigged, moderately long keeled, sloop, painted a cheery yellow by some prior owner. Unfortunately the boat needed some serious repairs so she was hauled out in Dinner Key Marina a couple boats away from ‘Diana’.

The Irish Kid had only planned to haul out a few days, maybe a week at the most, before being launched again and well before his deadline to leave the states. As in all boat repairs, it did not work out that way. The required repairs were far more extensive and time consuming than he had planned. All of us in the yard felt sorry for him and tried to help as best we could. I had found a source for government surplus bottom paint and so picked up an extra gallon for him. His mast step had rotted out and had also rotted the painted plywood deck below it. A number of us spent a night cutting the deck apart and scarfing in a new piece of deck and building him a new mast step. One of the guys donated the wreck of an old rig and its parts were scavenged to replace pieces of bad rigging. And so it went.

Every couple days, a black Ford galaxy with U.S. government plates would pull into the boat yard and two men in suits would talk to the Irish Kid and let him know that they would not allow him a minute more than the allotted deadline to leave. This very much scared the Irish Kid since all of his money was tied up in that boat, and if he was carted off and sent home, he believed the boat would be seized by the Government to pay for his airfare.

Adding to the pathos of this whole venture was the fact that the Irish Kid did not know how to sail, or navigate and had not spent time around boats. Originally, there was a hippie that had planned to sail over to the Bahamas with the Irish Kid. We all knew this hippie to be less than perfectly knowledgeable and trustworthy but he was certainly a more experienced sailor than the Kid. A day or two before the Irish Kid was set to leave the hippie decided not to go.

On the last day leading up to the Irish Kid’s planned departure, we all pitched in doing what ever we could to get his boat put back together. We had wanted to take him sailing and make sure that he understood what we had been telling him but he was only launched on the morning that he had to leave. Another sailor and myself drove him up to get some groceries at the supermarket. He had wanted to say good-bye to his father but there was not enough time to run up Hialeah.

We had tried to convince him to sail over and anchor in ‘No-Name Cove’ on the opposite side of Biscayne Bay and just daysail until he felt comfortable with the boat, but he was so nervous that he would have his boat seized that he insisted that he would just simply sail over to the Bahamas. But sailing to the Bahamas was anything but simple. For several days a Norther had kept the flags standing out and slatting harshly and had raised whitecaps in the protected water of Biscayne Bay. It was not a good day for a new sailor to try to sail to ‘No-Name Cove’ by himself no less the Bahamas, But he set sail about 11:00 or so heading across Biscayne Bay to the cut off of Cape Florida on Key Biscayne and out toward the Florida Straights.

About noon, the black Galaxy showed up. The two guys in suits asked if I knew where the Irish kid had gone. I climbed up the ladder to the deck of ‘Diana’, and looking seaward, there was a tiny white triangle glowing in the mid-day sun above a spec of a yellow hull heeled down and basically on course for the cut. I pointed and said, “There he is”. One of the Government Men came aboard and looked for himself, thanked me, and then they left.

The Kid did not know how to navigate. One of the guys in the boatyard had laid out a course and told him when the water turned color head 45 Degrees further south until the water turned color again. I don’t recall if he could even read a chart.

These were different times than today. Small yachts did not carry VHF radios. GPS or even Loran did not exist. The Irish Kid’s boat did not have a reliable outboard or an electrical system. He had a silly little double D cell powered running light that had a red and green at the front and a white light at the rear that he clipped to his mast. If he failed there was no way to call for help.

In the first few days after the Irish Kid left, I naively listened on the AM radio for news of an air/sea rescue search, but then it hit me, who would call in that search? Over the years I thought of the Irish Kid a lot. In the years after Dinner Key, I’d think of him almost every time I sailed a small boat in a building breeze. But slowly over time I’d think of him less and less.

To this day I wonder what happened to him. I wonder if he somehow made it, or if perhaps he slipped in to No-Name Cove and did in fact learn to sail. I sometimes imagine him reaching the Bahamas. I wonder how he knew which low sand island was which. I wondered if he knew to look out for coral heads and dope runners. I wondered the current took him north and he missed the Bahamas entirely. Or the Norther blew him south and he piled up on Andros to die tangled in the Mangoves. Or maybe he went on to become a world cruiser of great renown. Maybe he was Tristan Jones.

Most times when I tell a story there is a moral, or a punchline or even an ending but this one is different. If there’s a moral I have yet to figure it out. There is no punchline and as this still haunts me to this day, I am not sure there is even an ending.

Good night folks,
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post #1528 of 3274 Old 10-04-2009
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My BFS has a good ending, is fairly tame by most standards but was my closest call to "holy s**t!" I've had yet, well besides my first docking attempt (but thats another story). It also provided me with some learning opportunities as well as certain requirements for my boat. I'll explain...

Last week my son was on leave before he gets stationed in Ft. Bliss. I got my Hunter 23 in july when he was in AIT. He was only going to be in town for a short time and I was eager to show him the boat (he'd never been sailing). It was fairly windy (15-20 kts?) on Lake Hefner where I keep the boat on at the slip. I had recently switched to a trolling motor for its reliability because my outboard would die at inopportune times. So we went downwind in the canal and out into the marina "bay" I tested the upwind drive of the motor to see if I could maintain a windward heading for sail raising - confirmed. So we motored (trolled?) out of the marina. There were very few white caps on the surface and all seemed fine as I rounded up to wind to raise the main. My son was manning the tiller, I raised the main. As soon as the main was 2/3 the way up, the boat started to drift downwind.

Now before I go further, I must say that my boom is configured for an in mast topping lift except that the sheave is missing. So like the previous owner(s), I have a loop in the topping lift in which the boom rests. The rest of the topping lift is wrapped around my backstay to keep it from flying when not connected to the boom. This also prevents the boom from swinging too wildly when my mainsheet is loosened to release the topping lift.

So as soon as the boat starts drifting downwind/and to port. The main with the mainsheet released is quickly pulled to port, I'm unable to reach the hook for the topping lift and the boat heels dramatically to port. So much so that I am reminded of my Pico sailing course that I took in May of this year - lurch to the windward side to keep from "spillinging" the boat. Now, I don't have an inclinometer so I don't have a degree of heel that I can entertain you with. I do know that I was on the starboard side pushing the tiller with my foot! to try to round up with the wind again. But to no avail. Even with the trolling motor at full (it always was) I was resigned to go to a run and try to turn upwind again to release the topping lift and then it'd be smooth sailing! Wrong. As we turned upwind again with the already anticipated heeling and foot control on the tiller the boom came across and the topping lift hook landed squarely in the backstay adjuster housing... F! Sooo, after trying to get the hook out of the backstay adjuster, to no avail
the boat quickly headed downwind again. Feeling like this was a no win situation, after heading upwind one more time I released the main halyard killed the sail and headed back to the into the marina. At this point, I was able to release the boom from the backstay adjuster and toppinglift, letting it rest in the cockpit. Unable to make any headway against the wind in the marina any longer (the wind was pushing me toward a fishing dock) we maneuvered to the fishing dock and tied on. Past the dock was either the bank or the cement jetty. We went home, got the outboard and took it back to the slip. End of the Day!

In retrospect, things that I have learned. Fix the motor, Reroute the topping lift through the boom (I have already ordered the sheave), and have a knife/rigging cutter handy. Most importantly: While good enough is often adequate for most situations when it is not it may not be pretty. Thanks
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post #1529 of 3274 Old 10-04-2009
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Jeff. Great story telling man. I enjoyed reading that.

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post #1530 of 3274 Old 10-05-2009
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I would say David, Dodenda had a BFS over the weekend. Not big hairy winds, but finished 2nd in class tied, and 4 secs handicap behind the winner! 16 yr old daughter was at the helm the whole race. WInds were light, at beginning, were doing 20'ish at times at the finish. His whole fleet finished in 6 min of ea other. the fs group on the short course finshed plu 2 to minus 2 or 10 min total, so 20 some odd boats across the finish in 10 min! got really hairy with the long course folks, 1/4 of the fleet of 50 some odd, finish between 2 and 2:15pm. rather hairy for us on the RC.

Two wicked jibes at the finish, two side by side, one jibed 100 yds out, the other just after crossing! gave us on the RC a show!


She drives me boat,
I drives me dinghy!
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