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  #1861  
Old 05-31-2010
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Forecast was for 15-20 out of the E. Sounded great even for a 123nm course with a heading of due south. We get to the starting line and it’s slightly less than forecasted. Like 15 knots less. Creeping out to Tolly point light we search for breeze and actually do quite well. Staying in front of Schiehallion as we rounded the point was a highlight. Breeze slowly filled in and went to the south, just as we turned south. And then it proceeded to stay there for eternity. As if that wasn’t depressing enough, thunderstorms filled in from NW and rolled us for the next 10 hours. Everything gets wet. EVERYTHING.

Pounding into wave after wave wasn’t exactly what the crew had in mind when they signed up for this race. Channel traffic was bad and we even had to crack off from our close hauled course to dodge a cargo ship. Strategy didn’t go as planned; we ended up outside of the channel when we should’ve been in it and vise a versa. We battled on through the night and I was starting to give into fatigue falling asleep on the rail. Crew told me to go below, I wisely listened. Couldn’t sleep and went topside again. The wind built to 15-20+ and we decided to change to the #3, probably a little late, and were making better time again. Couldn’t get the sail flaked on deck, so the wet mess went below decks. That proved to make sleeping a bit more difficult curled up next to a wet Fusion M.

We pounded onward, trying to dodge the big waves and stay powered up through the slop. The sun started to rise and we were passed Tangier Island. The rain had stopped, but I swear I saw a large wooden ship with two of each type of animal onboard wave at us as we passed. The wind started to lighten and the decision was made to go back to the #1. Went forward w/ the sail and hooked up the tack, taking the halyard forward we hit a funky wave, I went for the lifeline, which gave way, and I went over the side in foulies in the southern bay. That was an experience I don’t want to relive. I kicked hard to get above water and made one giant leap for the toe rail near the helm, snagged it, and got my other hand up as one of the crew grabbed my bibs and heave hoed me over the gunnels into the boat. I laughed a bit, continued with the sail change, and then peeled off the wet close. As if the boat couldn’t get anymore wet than it was. Hat sunglasses and cell phone were claimed by the bay, but no sailors on Audrey.

We did find Insolvent near the finish, the wind didn’t help us much, they were high on the mark and were able to set a chute to get them to the York buoy, after that, we stayed close, but not enough to correct in front of them. We’re close and everyone is perked up wanting the agony to end. Rounding the mark, the wind was almost on the nose, still closed hauled, no surprise there. We call on the radio after insolvents hails went un answered, the RC had left the finish line. We crossed the finished and made for HYC.

We arrived to cheering and hails of well done. Good people came down to the dock and brought beer, smiles and handshakes for the crew. Honestly, without a doubt, best part of the entire race. Unfortunately there wasn’t much left of the party, and no food. But we did hang out for a while and talked about the race. Met some nice people from SA. Next year, better tactics, less junk below decks, and hopefully the same crazy crew I had this year.

Results are at Down the bay Race.
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  #1862  
Old 05-31-2010
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HOLY CRAP!!! Dude, you got flicked!! Crazy!!

Awesome story zz. Good thinking on the scramble back up and good work by your crew to get you back on so quickly.

Did the stanchions break? Or did the lifelines just part?

Anyway - glad you're safe. Sounds like this is one BFS you'll remember forever.

What's a link to the "Down the Bay Race" site?
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  #1863  
Old 06-01-2010
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Here's one for ya smacky, Dr. Laura on her J-125 recently.

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  #1864  
Old 06-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
HOLY CRAP!!! Dude, you got flicked!! Crazy!!

Awesome story zz. Good thinking on the scramble back up and good work by your crew to get you back on so quickly.

Did the stanchions break? Or did the lifelines just part?

Anyway - glad you're safe. Sounds like this is one BFS you'll remember forever.

What's a link to the "Down the Bay Race" site?
DOWN THE BAY VIRGINIA CRUISE CUP

lashing at the lifeline termination point failed. Will be doing repairs to that tomorrow. Along with repairing the tiller a crew member fell over, replacing a halyard that chafed, and cleaning up the mess from the outboard down below. Longest windward leg of my life.
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  #1865  
Old 06-02-2010
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CC - WOW! I'd say she's "doing the right thing".

ZZ - have fun with the work. Epic sails always leave messes!
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  #1866  
Old 06-06-2010
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Another great BFS from alan477 - with great lessons learned and a great attitude about it all...


Quote:
Originally Posted by alanr77 View Post
Hello all, posted a long time ago regarding getting a sailboat and learning to sail. Well, over the past year I have taken US Sailing classes and purchased a 1977 Catalina 22 (on the advice of sailing friends who said start small and with something you can sail now). Spent three months rebuilding her, upgrading rigging and such, and have now spent the last few months sailing her off the coast of Tybee Island, Ga. Fun little boat and some really relaxing days sailing around. However, yesterday we got caught in our first storm on a sailboat. Let me describe what happened, what I did, what I think I did wrong, and the outcome. Maybe some of you with experience can critique my actions so that I can learn from them.
First off, I fully understand that the Catalina 22 is not designed for any kind of heavy weather or even use in the ocean. After yesterday I may be looking to sell her and purchase something more suited to the area in which I sail. Now on to the story;
Yesterday started out perfectly, marine weather forecast called for partly cloudy, winds 10-15 knots, seas 2-3 feet with a 20% chance of a thunderstorm late in the day. Actual weather was sunny, 5-10 knot winds with 2-3 foot waves. We sailed out about 2 miles from shore tacking every half mile or so trying to make it to Saint Cathrine's island. Somewhere around 1530 hrs we noticed thunderheads a long distance away appearing south. I decided to turn around and run North back to Tybee and the protected inlet of the Savannah River. We were making good speed until suddenly all wind died. The sun was still out and the storm, though closing, was still far on the horizon. After about 35 minutes, the wind resumed at around the same speed as before. Now, I am running a 150 Genoa and a full Mainsail, the only sails I have as my working Jib fell apart from age. After running for about an hour, the storm started filling the sky behind us. The wind started picking up though not dangerously. I started thinking about reducing sail but because we were making good speed I decided to hold on a little longer.
This I believe was my first mistake, because about 10 minutes later, the wind started gusting to about force 3-4. The boat began to surf and seemed to plane. I told the girl to hold the tiller and keep the boat pointed downwind as I went forward to wrestle down the genny and secure it. I managed to do this without to much fuss though the jib halyard broke free and flew around near horizontal for the remainder of the storm. (at this point we could not turn into the wind to take down sail as it would have capsized us)
Once the genny was down the boat became controllable again and we continued to run under full mainsail with the sheet all the way out. I had never reefed the main before and couldn't find any line small enough to do so but I kept thinking that I needed to reef NOW!!!! We were at this point about a half mile from the turn into the Savannah River. Suddenly, the storm winds hit, wind indicator showed sustained 37mph with gusts to 48. The waves became taller than the cabin of the boat and salt water filled the air. Mistake number 2, I should have dropped the main before the winds hit. Though I thought we could make it. Again I told the girl to hold the tiller (which at this time had so much weather helm that it was almost impossible to keep the boat straight. It would round up to port even with two hands pulling the rudder and bracing against the cockpit. She was screaming that she couldn't hold it but I knew I had to drop the main. I waited until we were in between waves and jumped up, released the halyard and wrestled the main down, wrapped it around the boom and secured it with bungee cords. We were now running under bare poles and it seemed to be somewhat more comfortable. Though she still had amazingly strong weather helm and waves were boarding over the transom. (Cockpit lockers are water tight and secured, additional drains have been installed in the cockpit and I had put the companionway boards in earlier so they were draining quickly and to me posed no real threat).
Now, on to my biggest mistake. What I think I should have done is maintain sea room and continue to run as I had control, I was watertight and the storm was fast moving. What I did was try to turn into to Savannah River inlet and make it to the protection of the cove.
First let me describe the inlet. The Savannah River inlet is about three miles wide, has submerged rock jetties dividing it into two channels. A major shipping lane goes through the southern side. Massive sand bars line both sides and run right up to the navigational buoys. The tide was outgoing against the wind and the water depth goes from 40' to 7' very quickly. Basically, 5-6 foot swells become 6-7' breakers very quickly.
By turning to port under bare poles I lost steerage way and began taking large breaking waves on my beam. I started the outboard (useless as it was out of the water most of time) and tried to make some sort of headway. I kept trying to run a bit and then turn to port to make it the half mile or so to get behind the island. After doing this for the longest 35 minutes of my life, and having one particularly large breaker lift us up, roll us over till the starboard windows were submerged and then slide us down the wave (thank god the keel was down) we began to get shielded by the island.
Suddenly, the wind stopped, the waves dissipated and the sun came out.....it became the most beautiful time yet on the water. Dolphins were playing, gulls were circling, it was almost surreal. As if we had just passed a test and this was the reward...
Now, I would like to say it was my actions that saved us that day but I know it was pure luck. I made some near fatal mistakes yesterday that could have cost me the boat and possibly our lives. Though this may seem petty to those who brave mid ocean storms with 40' waves and 60 knot winds. Our little gale with 6-7 foot breakers in a 1900 pound 22' boat seemed serious enough to us...
Now, what could I have done better? I have been in worse storms in a small Boston Whaler that seemed safer than this sailboat. This boat was all over the place, weather helm was so strong I thought the tiller would break.

I have come up with my own conclusions that I would appreciate comments on;

1) If you think a storm is approaching and the weather report confirms this, if you can take refuge in the nearest leeward cove or behind the lee of an island, do it. If you cannot,
2) Seriously reduce sail area well before the winds hit, in a small boat like the Catalina 22 this may be all sails down and secure.
3) If you get caught in the storm, maintain sea room and stay the hell out of harbors and river inlets until the storm passes. Wave heights in these areas are astronomical.
4) Never take waves on the beam, if your running continue to do so.
5) Outboards are useless in a seaway.

Being that we survived this, I am taking this as a stern lesson from the sea. Apparently she is not a theoretical teacher. She teaches you in ways that force you to learn and if you fail, you don't come back.

What should I have done differently?

The situation was very scary in this boat, is this boat really so bad in these conditions that I need to look at buying a different boat?

Would a heavy displacement, 27' boat have made a difference or was it simply my inexperience that made it so scary?

All in all I am amazed at how quickly the sea can become dangerous and though it was quite terrifying, I look forward to the next sail... Alan.
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  #1867  
Old 06-13-2010
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NOW I know what BFS's are, more to come. Thanks Smack.

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  #1868  
Old 06-13-2010
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Dude....it was an honor! Any time.
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  #1869  
Old 06-13-2010
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My first sailboat was a Catalina 25 Wing Keel. That was about 6 months ago. M friend and I, both inexperienced, left the "puerto de abrigo" just before they raised the red flag. We knew a "norte" was coming, but we tought meteo was precise. So anyway we're flying on a reach following the cost when the weather goes bad, we decide to turn around. Surprise, the waves, about 7 foot with the current, were strongers then the engine (Johnson 9.9) at maximum throttle.

Batteries went dead, (old batteries), my friend distracted forgot a line that went into the watter and the prop decided to eat it. So engine dies. At this point, the jib goes in "heave mode" leave a small inverted pocket of air. We're dangerously close to the shore, so I scream to my friend "Throw the anchor!!". He throw the anchor but doesn't realise the line get stock, so now I'm at the back of the boat looking at the beach getting closer, I jump into the water to untangle the prop from the jib sheet, then I see a piece of metal floating at the back of the outboard, first thing I thought, holy **** we broke something... No , that was actually the anchor, the current was so strong that the anchor was floating behind the boat. Anyway, Managed to untangle the prop, get the engine started... At about 1.5 knots beating with both engine and jib, we managed to make it to the port entry, and engine dies... NO MORE FUEL.. We managed to find 2 liters of a portable fuel tank we had and managed to enter the puerto de abrigo just before the wind raised to crazy conditions. Not to mention that this particular Catalina-25 had a Roller Main Sail, so no reaf possible, if you reaf it by rolling, it just create a huge bubble of air healing you 30 degrees and slowing you down.

When we came back, the marine owners were still there, on a monday. And we were all "what the heck?" they said the were worried that we were still out in that big "norte" on the gulf with such a small boat and were not answering VHF clals.

Well, I learned a lot from this experience. Now i know what "newbie" means.

I know own an Aloha 34, a much more forgiving boat on the gulf and Carribean sea than the Catalina 25. But I will never forget my little boat.

We carefully take the boat out on some strong wind days on the gulf in order to learn and stay sharp.
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Old 06-13-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zz4gta View Post
Forecast was for 15-20 out of the E. Sounded great even for a 123nm course with a heading of due south. We get to the starting line and itís slightly less than forecasted. Like 15 knots less. Creeping out to Tolly point light we search for breeze and actually do quite well. Staying in front of Schiehallion as we rounded the point was a highlight. Breeze slowly filled in and went to the south, just as we turned south. And then it proceeded to stay there for eternity. As if that wasnít depressing enough, thunderstorms filled in from NW and rolled us for the next 10 hours. Everything gets wet. EVERYTHING.

Pounding into wave after wave wasnít exactly what the crew had in mind when they signed up for this race. Channel traffic was bad and we even had to crack off from our close hauled course to dodge a cargo ship. Strategy didnít go as planned; we ended up outside of the channel when we shouldíve been in it and vise a versa. We battled on through the night and I was starting to give into fatigue falling asleep on the rail. Crew told me to go below, I wisely listened. Couldnít sleep and went topside again. The wind built to 15-20+ and we decided to change to the #3, probably a little late, and were making better time again. Couldnít get the sail flaked on deck, so the wet mess went below decks. That proved to make sleeping a bit more difficult curled up next to a wet Fusion M.

We pounded onward, trying to dodge the big waves and stay powered up through the slop. The sun started to rise and we were passed Tangier Island. The rain had stopped, but I swear I saw a large wooden ship with two of each type of animal onboard wave at us as we passed. The wind started to lighten and the decision was made to go back to the #1. Went forward w/ the sail and hooked up the tack, taking the halyard forward we hit a funky wave, I went for the lifeline, which gave way, and I went over the side in foulies in the southern bay. That was an experience I donít want to relive. I kicked hard to get above water and made one giant leap for the toe rail near the helm, snagged it, and got my other hand up as one of the crew grabbed my bibs and heave hoed me over the gunnels into the boat. I laughed a bit, continued with the sail change, and then peeled off the wet close. As if the boat couldnít get anymore wet than it was. Hat sunglasses and cell phone were claimed by the bay, but no sailors on Audrey.

We did find Insolvent near the finish, the wind didnít help us much, they were high on the mark and were able to set a chute to get them to the York buoy, after that, we stayed close, but not enough to correct in front of them. Weíre close and everyone is perked up wanting the agony to end. Rounding the mark, the wind was almost on the nose, still closed hauled, no surprise there. We call on the radio after insolvents hails went un answered, the RC had left the finish line. We crossed the finished and made for HYC.

We arrived to cheering and hails of well done. Good people came down to the dock and brought beer, smiles and handshakes for the crew. Honestly, without a doubt, best part of the entire race. Unfortunately there wasnít much left of the party, and no food. But we did hang out for a while and talked about the race. Met some nice people from SA. Next year, better tactics, less junk below decks, and hopefully the same crazy crew I had this year.

Results are at Down the bay Race.
Hey zz sorry I missed the race tried to give shout but guess I was a little to late or you crew filled up. Hope we catch up some time on the bay.
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