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  #1  
Old 08-21-2011
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Solo sailing hard lessons

Had already been let down with crew failing to turn up. So just took off solo first from Hamworthy in Poole South UK to sail none-stop to Falmouth in Cornwall UK it took 22hrs and during entry into the harbour the oil light came on and I had to shut down the engine and sail into the busy harbour lucky I had been here a few times so knew the waters well I managed to grab a buoy. The engine had sheared a vibrating oil pipe in half and all the oil was now in the bilge. I spent hours slowly cleaning up the mess. A day locating and obtaining a new pipe.

Then I used a professional paid for crew requirement agency for I was bound to sail up North to Liverpool to visit my poorly sick Dad. Two days later several crew had been promised by day three I was yet again alone and sailed from Falmouth solo to Milford Haven staying awake was not an issue I had plenty of very strong coffee and had many times done 36hrs this time I had just got half way across the Bristol Channel when the weather turned nasty I was already passage planned to the max CG66 registered and had notified the coast guard that as conditions got worse I was now under bare poles yet still making way. They where exceptional and asked me to contact them every few hours with a progress update. Then disaster struck a huge breaking wave swept me still in my harness and attached to lifeline through the upper wash board and left me hanging into the cockpit I pulled the safety clip and released myself to fall to the cabin floor and in doing so caught the microphone on the vhf this tore out the entire socket. Left now with a dead main radio i tried the brand new hand-held radio in my grab bag it could receive but did could not transmit the distance to the coast guard. Now i was concerned some 40NM from my destination and eight hours over due. The storm cleared and I rigged the boat for the fastest possible bolt hole I had per planned it was Dales Sands. unknown to me friends had already informed the coast guard I was missing they checked with my designated person who told they that I was an extremely proficient sailor and that at this time they where not concerned. However the CG put in place an ALLSHIPS bulletin to Cargo, Fishing, Pleasure, Ferry and other vessels and ports for a sighting of my vessel.

I became more concerned when a gigantic container ship made a full 360 turn around me whilst under sail and moving at a fast speed I tried to hail them on the hand held radio yet got no reply.
Totally exhausted by now I just kept sailing drinking hot fluids and eating 12hrs overdue I reach St Annes at Milford and managed to get the coast guard on my hand-held with a very weak signal I explained I was okay and still making way informed them of main radio failure and of seawater in my diesel the breaking wave sent water down the fuel tank air vent. Being a very savy sailor with good mechanical experience I knew I could drain off the water but not under sail.

I headed for a pontoon at Dale Sands it was the closest land object I could make in my back up plan. I sailed straight on to it without any problems. Tried to radio coast gurad to close the event but again could not get the range on a hand held radio. I drained off the water in the fuel changed fuel filters and then decided to rest. I was woken several hours later by the marine police who checked my log book entries and told me that a full SAR (search and rescue) team where about to be deployed as my vessel still listed as missing and had been sighted in thirteen (13) different locations from the ALLSHIPS request via the coast guard it turned out only the huge 360 turning vessel had correctly spotted my boat. The problem ...the boats name is also a BRAND name. I was given a phone and asked to call the coast guard duty controller to close the event.

Lessons learnt solo sail short distances only. When people fail to turn up for crew never ask them again they are unreliable. ALWAYS have a back-up plan with bolt holes, carry spare parts filters belts fuel etc I did thatís why this event is on here to share the knowledge and experience.

I sailed from Dale to Fishguard after plenty of rest and repair again solo then at Fishguard I had a temp crew to passage with me to Pwllheli. From here a really decent crew person came with me all the way to Liverpool we did it all in a remarkable time and without any more problems.

I hope this is of some help to others on sailnet.

P.S. I am making the trip back 26th August ...
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Old 08-21-2011
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Thanx for posting this. One lesson learned (this so often seems to be the case) is that crises are not single big things, but cascades of individual small problems that interact. Surprised that after your weak conversation with your CG they still nearly did SAR.

Hoping your dad is improving.
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Old 08-21-2011
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TheStar,

That's one hell of a story. Glad you're ok, and I'd shake your hand if we ever meet. If you are able, could you post a picture of your GPS track?
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Old 08-21-2011
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Thanks for takeing the time to post this , It does help newbs like myself to get the picture of how rough it can get just waiting out weather , good thing you didn't break your hand or something droping to the cabin floor !

Hope your dad recovers ....
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Old 08-22-2011
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Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingNwing View Post
Thanx for posting this. One lesson learned (this so often seems to be the case) is that crises are not single big things, but cascades of individual small problems that interact. Surprised that after your weak conversation with your CG they still nearly did SAR.

A friend phoned saying they where concerned so it escalated the situation

Hoping your dad is improving.
Dad is happy at 75 he knows natures design is due.
So glad I made the trip.

Thank you
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Old 08-22-2011
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I would love too will need help!

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Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
TheStar,

That's one hell of a story. Glad you're ok, and I'd shake your hand if we ever meet. If you are able, could you post a picture of your GPS track?
Hi I would love to post the track I have a slight issue I am a bit confused on how to export it.

I use a Garmin hand held H72 then interface it with my laptop to OpenCPN.

How do I export the track there does not seem to be an option?
Garmin H72 only holds 10 tracks and has options SAVE/CLEAR main window, menu window has options: Setup Track Log - Delete Saved Track - Delete All Saved.

I have a digital manual on the device if that would help?
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Old 08-22-2011
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Thank you HDChopper it is well worth sharing sea experiences we never stop learning I have all the ability and will with every posible situation pre-planned for for solo sailing I always wear life jacket and harness to life line when on deck. Have also got satellite beacon if the worst thing should ever happen.

Broken limbs would hinder me yet I would muster the determination to go on...unless it was my neck or back!
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Old 08-22-2011
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Thanks for sharing. Glad all turned out well. Truly an amazing story.
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Old 08-22-2011
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Thank you so much for sharing that.

I too found that our handheld has limited range. We can't even contact the pump-out boat 2 miles away! He hears us but can't make out what we're saying.

Regards,
Brad
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Old 08-22-2011
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Handheld range

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Originally Posted by Bene505 View Post
Thank you so much for sharing that.

I too found that our handheld has limited range. We can't even contact the pump-out boat 2 miles away! He hears us but can't make out what we're saying.

Regards,
Brad
That's shocking 2 miles !!!
I can confirm the coast guard said they had my call from 16NM off St Annes Head which was in line of sight when I could both send & receive. I gave them my log & lat at the time and made an entry in the log book.
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