Alright, I'll go. We were heading home in 20-25 knot winds, with relatively calm seas, on a broad reach; hauling some serious butt. This was my old little 22', fixed keel 1967 WD Shock, pocket cruiser that normally maxed out around 6 knots, but we had been pushing 7 to 7.5 for a couple of miles; it was me and my 70 year old father and we were all grins and giggles. Now bear with me, this trivial info about our once-in-a-life time, high speed, text book perfect sail, helps to explain why we decided not to drop the sails and motor into the narrow channel like most people do. Normally when you leave Puget Sound, you douse the sails, fire up the motor and carefully navigate the narrow channel that brings you into the crowded staging area where everyone waits their turn to be lifted up to the lake. Well not that day, not for two experienced sailors like us, no way, we weren't stopping for anything. Our heading was perfect to sail right into the channel without adjusting a thing. As we entered the channel, things got a little crowded; as it was low tide and there were several slower moving boats meandering in and out of our race course. Also the current in this channel is normally pretty strong, but today it was like a river as the tide came back in.
Our plan was to sail to where the channel widens and then find a space off to the side and drop the sails. As we approached the end of the channel my father started the trustworthy outboard, and we went over the upcoming high speed maneuver one more time. The plan was to find a clear spot near the shore, towards the left side of the channel, and in one quick motion, whip the boat around to starboard, point into the wind, drop the sails, and then whip back around and continue on our merry way under power. Seemed simple enough at the time....As the boat did it's Dukes of Hazards, high speed, 180 degree slide, I unlashed both sails from the mast, jumped forward, gave the head sail a couple of quick tugs and jumped back to finish bringing down the main.....and then things went from really good to not so really good, in a hurry.
It turns out, our little Dukes turn around, got a little out of hand and the main caught the wind on the other side as we came back around, sending us straight towards the beach, with the rail nearly in the water. In a panic, my father, dumped the main sheet, gave the engine full throttle, and cranked both the tiller and the outboard hard over to keep us off the beach. It worked, whew. We headed back to the center of the channel, got the main down and we were now pointed in the right direction and on our merry way under power. When my father said, "Hey, this thing came off". I looked over, he's holding the fuel line and it's disconnected from the engine. Oh? Oh my….Oh ****! I jump down to hopefully plug it back in before the engine died, but sadly, the fuel line hadn't just slipped off, but the little fluted end of the fitting was broken off inside the hose when the engine was pushed hard over and the fitting hit the edge of the transom (note to self….). I tried once or twice to stab the fuel line back on, but it was not going to happen. Moments later, the engine died.
So there we were, in a narrow, crowed channel, with a 6 knot current and a 20 knot wind quickly pushing us closer to the rocky shore. Our only option was to immediately raise the main. I got it up about halfway and had us back in the center of the channel pretty quickly, but we were still in major trouble. Our first thought was to sail back out to open water and fix the engine. But I knew we'd never get it fixed well enough to maneuver through the locks, we might get it to sputter with some duct tape and hose clamps, but I didn't have any quick set epoxy and the only extra fitting was one I had bought by mistake and I knew it would not fit. In addition, with the current, the wind direction, and the oncoming traffic, sailing upwind in the channel was a pretty risky proposition. Plus the sun was going down. Nope, the plan was to either find someone in the channel to tow us through the locks, or to find a private dock along the channel that we could tie up to and fix the engine properly. We chose the latter.
We sailed in circles for a few minutes, looking for some place to tie up, there were only a few options available, and none were very good. So I picked a 40' long floating dock that already had a 20 foot long skiff tied to it. I figured, this was going to be one tough parking job anyway, why not make it a challenge and parallel park. Honestly, it was the best option. I circled around and gave the docking a "practice" run; with the dock to starboard and the wind just off the port bow, I attempted to slip past the docked boat and scoot over just enough to clear him and glide up to the dock. As we approached, I looked on shore to see whose dock we were commandeering and it appeared to belong to some sort of club, or small cafe, as there were a bunch of people on the two levels of decks overlooking the water, maybe 50 people or so, all of whom seemed to be watching me. Oh great, an audience, just what I needed. As we approached for a trial run, I let the main luff to keep the speed down and slowly beat up towards the little parking space. As we got close I realized this was my one and only chance, and I took it. My father was on the bow and even though I said, please don't jump off, he jumped off, and landed like a spring chicken squarely in the center of the dock. He had the bow lashed in seconds; I tossed the stern line to him and lowered the main. We put out some bumpers and all was well and good. Whew!
So you ask, what's so embarrassing about that? Well, we decided to hoof it up to the street and walk down to West Marine, in hopes of finding a coupling. Now this was winter, so we were cold and wet and thought a couple of shots of whiskey would make the walk bearable. We sat in the boat, and drank several toe warming toasts to surviving our little mishap. All warmed up and ready for action, we walked up the main dock towards the bar or club, full of well dressed people, all of whom were still eying us pretty hard. As we approached, one of the patrons said, "It looked like you were having some trouble out there". I looked up at the gathering on the patio, all of whom where anticipating my response, and with the three shots of whiskey running though my veins, I cleared my throat, took a step back, and fell 15 feet off the dock into the freezing cold waters of Puget Sound.
Last edited by Lurkette; 07-24-2007 at 12:41 AM.