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