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  #1  
Old 02-20-2012
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Scariest moment while sailing?

What would people suggest is their scariest moment sailing - one that really made your hair stand on end>

I can start. In the early 1970s (no radar, AIS, no VHF) when I was making one of my first Lake Ontario crossings we were overtaken by a big bank of quite dense fog - perhaps visibility of 100 m or so. Sailing along at knots or so, very comfortable and quiet - trying to see, but not seeing anything which is not a big surprise in the middle of the lake. Went below to get a snack and I could hear the engine of a freighter - I assume the sound was coming through the water and into the hull. Went in and out frequently for next 15 minutes or so, desparately trying to see something. Never heard or saw a thing outside - kept hearing the engine sound inside with no real change in volume or tone. After a quarter hour, the engine noises faded away and the fog disappeared before landfall. Scared the crap out of me.
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Old 02-20-2012
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After being dismasted on the way to Bermuda, taking the boat to Newport across the gulf stream with north winds the captain woke Me up and told me we needed to go up foward on deck because the 50 gallon fuel bladder had come loose and was about to fall overboard. I thought I was going to die that night.
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Old 02-20-2012
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Back in early 1980 something a string of cement barges mashed a powerboat named the Karen E on long island sound ? and doing anything around that time in the fog was pretty nerve-wracking BUT come the present and a fully modern 80+ foot professional crewed sailboat suffered the same fate when it got run down by a freighter
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If a dirty bottom slows you down what do you think it does to your boat
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Old 02-20-2012
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My scariest moment was caught on (digital) film. 2011 Columbus Day regatta in Biscayne Bay. We were at the first stage of our start, and were on a reach absolutely hauling down the bay. Wind started picking up, and the boat started surfing to 8+ knots. Then, the wind clocked around 90 degrees and we crash gybed, rounded up, gybed again, rounded up. It was an absolutely insane situation where I was clocking sustained winds above 45 knots, white-out conditions with rain, and gusts reaching 55 knots. We tattered our genoa uv cover and damaged the main as well. We survived, no one got hurt, and the boat sustained only minor damage.

Marco Oquendo Photography / imagesbymarco.com | 2011 Official Columbus Day Regatta? Saturday look around image 280 for the maelstrom to begin. Pics of us start at 284...we are the Beneteau with the green canvas. Our fleet was Gunkhole. Pics 288, 289, 290 show the storm building before we wiped out.
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Last edited by night0wl; 02-20-2012 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 02-20-2012
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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...
3?
3???!!!???
Is our depth guage calibrated for depth below transducer or depth below waterline?
2...???!!!!!!!!!!????
BANG!
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.
Bang!
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.
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Old 02-20-2012
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I was just coming into Salem Harbor, watching what look liked the edge of a serious thunderstorm moving north over land, and I was thinking I was glad that it missed us. We were sailing close hauled into the harbor under full sail when suddenly bang: the wind shifted about 45 degrees and hit us broad side. Our Cal 33 was on its side and we were taking water over the rail. My buddy who has a little sailing experience was hanging on for dear life on the highside. We had no steerage so I knew I had to let the main out to get us righted, but the main sheet winch is near the companionway entrance and out of reach. So I had to go around the wheel on the low side, which was wet, to grab the main sheet. I did, and when I released it the boat righted itself. I then pulled in the jib, getting rope burned as I did, then sheeted in the main just enough to get some foward movement.

We rode out what turned out to be a microburst by keeping the boat pointed just enough to keep the sail from luffing too much. The whole thing lasted 3-5 minutes. There was a 45 foot boat right behind me that for a good five minutes before it was able to right itself. When our boat came up I was standing in knee deep water before it drained.

I can't say this was scary because it happened so fast and I just reacted. I would say it definately gave me an adrenaline rush.

Last edited by Slayer; 02-20-2012 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 02-20-2012
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A couple of years ago I was having a great day on the water, nice beam reach, doing about 5 knots, heading pretty well due west.

I was in a bit of water that I thought I was very familiar with. What I thought was the green can at Indian Bells was off my starboard bow, there should be clear water ahead of me.

I glanced at my depth guage and saw that the depth didn't jive with the chart (why can they not get these things right?). The numbers got smaller and smaller. I reviewed my paper chart and saw that the depth should be better, but it was getting shallower by the minute.

I de-powered and slowed to about 1 knot when I hit the bottom. The keel didn't hit too hard, but the boat rocked back onto the rudder, breaking the cotter pin and popping the pintles out of the gudgeons.

I spent a couple of minutes getting the rudder back onto the transom - it's surprising how hard that was, even in pretty calm conditions.

I sailed over to the closest island, dropped the anchor and dove under the boat to inspect the keel. Hardly a scratch! Phew!
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Old 02-20-2012
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In the days of dead reckoning, before gps nav, without even loran, radar, or RDF, was in my old 42' Wheeler Playmate heading from Block I. to Menemsha (on MV). Fog rolled in for the entire trip through the damnable rotary current that sets up in Block I. Sound. When I figured we should be nearing the Gay Head buoy, I indeed saw a buoy in the fog and headed toward it to get an id. Approaching it, noticed that the depth was getting pretty shallow and looked ahead to see green water gushing high up over the rocks of Sow and Pigs Reef. Over the side, the bottom was visible and going by fast. An "aw sh__ " moment for sure. The buoy was the Sow and Pigs buoy off Cuttyhunk and I was inside it! Anyway, a quick turn and I escaped this graveyard of ships by pure luck back into deeper water.....and had a fix!!
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Old 02-20-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommays View Post
Back in early 1980 something a string of cement barges mashed a powerboat named the Karen E on long island sound ? and doing anything around that time in the fog was pretty nerve-wracking BUT come the present and a fully modern 80+ foot professional crewed sailboat suffered the same fate when it got run down by a freighter
Last summer, had a tanker almost run me down in broad daylight on a sunny calm, clear day just east of the Northville platform. He had all the room in the world to give me plenty of room, probably saw me 6 miles away but came within bow wake distance as he passed...no horn signal, no contact, just an a_hole with a Panamanian registry. Don't know where these guys get their licenses but it must be via mail order.
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Old 02-20-2012
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1st night time watch; open ocean

I volunteered as the only crew to help a friend take his 51' Beneteau from Tortola to Turks & Caicos, about 400 nm. There was no way I could avoid doing a night watch with the three on/three off schedule my friend ordered.
My first night watch was going swimmingly. The winds were light an the ocean waves were pretty tame (3' - 6'). My eyes worked well and I was clipped into a harness in the cockpit. There was a beautiful phosphorescent trail left by our hull to watch and stars to sight; Polaris was around 20 degrees, right where it should be.
Alone, in the dark on the open ocean my senses started playing tricks on me. I heard an intermittent sound of a dog barking which was weird. Later I saw a greenish light swoop across the sky directly above me. It moved so fast that it had to be a UFO; not that I am a big believer. This scared the crap out of me though until I reasoned that what my senses were telling me must have another explanation. The UFO was the masthead tricolor light and the dog barking was a noise that the metal boom made now and again.
I was happy that I'd overcome my initial panic and figured it out without waking the owner up.
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