Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: South Coast Ontario
Thanked 93 Times in 82 Posts
Rep Power: 10
There was that one time we ran out of rum...
Seriously, the most nerve-wracking experience was in September of 2008. It's the end of our first season with Whiskeyjack, and we were still ironing out the wrinkles, finding the limits and understanding her and the local waters. Hurricane Ike had just shot is wad all over southern Ontario, and we were out enjoying the last of the wind and the accompanying short chop. This is the tail end of SWMBO's first season sailing. and the end of my first season sailing on Long point Bay.
The bay is a great sailing environment, lots of gunkholing, relatively protected, mostly sandy bottom with few obstacles, except the shoals just to the southeast of the harbour mouth. We draw 3' , the shoals' chart depth is 2' but nominal water that season was 3' above datum. So, we have sailed over the shoals from may-Sept. with no problem.
REarlier in the day, as we were heading out I noted that the water in the marina was shallower than normal, but didn't thin anything of it other than to note that the remains of Ike had moved the water around on the lake- a good storm wil cause water levels to fluctuate by as much as 4'.
The wind is blowing about 20, the water is choppy with 4-6' swells.
Those of you doing the math can see where this is headed.
As we merrily bash back to the marina, rai dipping into the waves and spray occasionaly cresting the bow, we're keeping a lazy eye on the depth, nothing active, because there's nothing for us out here to hit, right? Never had a problem before, right?
The sun is shining the tell tales are flying, the depth is reading 12...10...8.... 5...3...
Is our depth guage calibrated for depth below transducer or depth below waterline?
It was like a scene from one of those WW II submarine movies, where the crew is anxiously eyeing the gauges and waiting for the next bad thing to happen.
I look over the side and see rocks, at about the same time our keel BANG! found BANG! them.
There's no quick and easy way out. To port, rocks. To starboard, rocks. ahead, rocks. nothing to do but grit my teeth and hope for the best. It felt like hours but it couldn't have been more than a BANG! few BANG! seconds, and then the depth gauge was reading 8... 10....14...20 again. Later inspection revealed no significant damage beyond my confidence and a broken wine bottle.
I don't think I have ever learned that many lessons in that short a time span before or since.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere:
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