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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 06-07-2010
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rough day sunday

i sailed sunfish, hobie cats and a flying scott when i was younger.. just playing around, nothing serious... then motorboated for years...

last year we bought a sagitta 30, an old north sea boat....so our re-education began....
we have had many learning experiences... tangled halyards, sheets coming undone and fouling in the prop, moorng coming loose, botched reefing, resulting in torn sail, and motor issues.....

well thinds had been going well this year, nice sailing, not much drama.... that ended Sunday.

we went out in 20knott winds and did not reef due to our last reefing experience... we sailed most of the way to cape lookout, in 5-5 foot seas... boat was marvelous.. right at home...

Well our son began to get seasick, so we came back into the sound and headed west on a close hauled into what had built to 30 kt winds .....
We were pointing VERY close, so staying in the Chanel was difficult.

We hit an area that the channel is pretty shallow and we started bumping bottom... so we tacked 180deg. that is when things went ugly.......

we came around onto a broad reach with full sails... all of a sudden we had uncontrollable weather helm... We had a guest on board who was at the helm, he was full tiller and we were still turning starboard uncontrollably... just as we hit the sandbar at hull speed the bolts that hold the tiller in the bracket attached to the rudder came loose... the cap bolts stripped out ... so we were aground heeling 30 degrees, with full sails and no rudder....

we first dropped the main, let the headsail loose, and found some bolts that we could use to temporarily fix the tiller.
we could feel the boat bumping, as the wind and waves were seemingly slowly bumping us back towards the channel. We all were leaning out over the side hanging onto the shrouds getting a little more heel to assist mother nature in returining us to the channel. I was just about to throw in the towel and was on the phone with sea tow and we finally were blown off the bar...

we sailed back under our hank on 110 jib, we were at hul speed with just the 110 let out pretty loose....

well we get back to the mooring. wind is now howling with gusts over 40 knotts... the channel we are moored in had 2 foot + chop.... I load the wife and son into our 9' fiberglass tender, crank up the 3hp yamaha and head for the docks... waves were breaking over the bow, getting us soaked and adding a lot of water inside the dinghy...

we get to the dock, and I unload the wife and son and bail out the dinghy.....

i head back to get my friend who was hanging out on the boat and as waves are breaking over the stern... the motor suddenly became very quite.... It ran out of gas....

I was stuck in the middle of the channel with only one oar and a dead motor, a ripping current and high winds.

i managed to paddel to a dock and precariously tie off the dinghy and walked the 3 blocks to my truck and reallized that the gas tank was at the house.....

luckily we live 4 blocks away so i go the the house and get the gas tank.... of course it was empty... and i had no mix.....

i had to go to the sore get the oil and gas. I finally get back to the dinghy that by now had become wedged under the dock and was 1/2 full of water ( lucky for the built in flotation)...
i finally got the dinghy out and bailed then began to carefully pour the gas into the motor (built in tank).

i finally get the motor started and back to get my friend... then we motored back, managed to keep the dinghy afloat and ended the day with a rather stiff gin and tonic......

looks like we still have a lot to learn.
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Old 06-07-2010
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Only ONE Gin and Tonic??? Or... is that one bottle?
There will be better days!!
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Old 06-08-2010
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lol thanks...
it was a BIG one...

we still had a fun day, just more adventurous than relaxing.

we realize we have a lot to learn, and are having fun learning. i think we are over the steepest part of the curve.....i hope...lol
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Old 06-08-2010
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Wow ! And I thought I had trouble backing down the ramp to the dock.
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Old 06-08-2010
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You've told us what happened, now tell us what you learned.
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Old 06-08-2010
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The Boy Scouts have a motto: Be Prepared. It seems to fit here. Interesting story and you are lucky on many counts that it worked out ok in the end....Some observations: out in marginal conditons (check the weather forecasts), if had problems reefing before, why wouldn't you work out the system/procedure in moderate conditions so it would be available when needed, no gas, no oil, one paddle. Hope you get these things and more worked out...otherwise, sounds like a disaster (real one with loss of life) waiting to happen. Two additonal thoughts, some of these summer storms are brief, and it might be better to wait them out before docking, or using dinghy, etc. Then in trying to make it through narrow channels, don't forget to use your engine...be careful of extreme heeling with engine on, but in an emergency, it's available.

All this did happen didn't it?

Last edited by NCC320; 06-08-2010 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 06-08-2010
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Holy crap dude! That was a seriously GREAT DAY!

You handled every single problem well enough to get your crew, your boats and your crew home safely AND you got to have a stiff cup of booze to top it all off!

Nice work yard!
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Old 06-08-2010
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As bljones implied, you need to look at what happened and how to learn from it. Your story was well told so that means that you have a clear understanding of what happened, which is good. From reading your description a few things jump out:

1. Weather happens and you turned around which was a good idea.
2. You didn't know how to reef. You indicate that an earlier experience reefing didn't work out so you didn't reef. While this wasn't the root-cause issue of everything that followed, it was a mitigator. Reefing is a mandatory skill and must be learned. In the way of disclosure, I freely admit that it took me a long time to properly learn how to reef after my own disaster many years ago.
3. You touched bottom in the channel. This could have turned out very bad. Was the depth sounder not working? On Victoria, a non-working depth sounder is an item that will keep us at the dock. It's a safety item for us.
4. You had a spare bolt for the one that broke. That was good.
5. You ran out of gas. I'm sure that won't happen again because you won't leave the dock without at least 1/2 tank. U.S. Naval vessels are required to have a mandatory fuel reserve in case they need to sortie. The same idea applies to pleasure vessels.
6. You had only 1 oar. I'm sure that won't happen again either. Two oars or you don't leave the dock.
7. No spare can of oil. When you use the last one, buy two more. When you use one, buy another. Keep it on the boat; boat stuff on the boat and home stuff at home. My brother-in-law leaves his boat tools in his car's trunk which drives me crazy.
8. You drank heavily. That was good. No challenging boating experience should go unrewarded.

I hope that this didn't come off too terse. We do after action assessments at work and it's a force of habit. Trust me, everyone on Sailnet has had your experience. If they say otherwise, they're lying. Check out my posts under the Boneheaded Sailing Moves thread. I've had my share plus some!
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Old 06-08-2010
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lol
yes we learned quite a bit...

as for the reefing.. we have learned how to reef, we did that just after the incident where we tore the sail..as for the weather it was not supposed to build, but rather dissipate through the day.. they were wrong, so we thought why reef if the wind would be dying.....

the tiller bolts were never suspect.. the ones that were used were the solid rod with threaded ends and two cap nuts, the kinds that are decorative and the threads cannot pass through.. we had no indication that these were in any way compromised.

depth finder was working fine, we were in the middle of the ICW, in the channel. We suddenly went from 8 feet to 3 feet Very quickly... this evidently is a section of the ICW that is in great need of dredging.. we sail there all the time and have had no issues.. we think that the strong SW winds had blown a lot of the water out of the channel and that is why it was unusually low. after we tuned around, the the weather helm was uncontrollable and we were turned starboard right onto the shoal.

I always carry a tackle box with an assortment of screws, bolts and nuts, as well an electrical kit with elecrtical suppies, motor spares, and hoses... I believe in being prepared.

as for the dinghy fiasco... i had filled the motor the day before before heading over to the boat to work on some teak. we only moor a hundres yards or so from the dock. My son and a friend of mine were with me and they went for a cruise in the dinghy, evidently much further than i had thought....
when we went out to the boat Sunday morning we had 2 oars. i think one was left in a bad position and fell over with all the waves in our mooring area.
and as for the oil.. i run a landscape business with 18 employees. I almost always have a small container of mix in the toolbox of my truck, as someone is needing oil from time to time.. We had been SUPER hectic getting all our properties ready for memorial weekend, and i had to get out of the office into the field that week with a crew to make sure we met some important deadlines. SOOOO someone had grabbed it out of my truck along with my small can of mix... when i got to my truck and thought found it not there i went to the house assuming i had unloaded it saturday with a lot of boat stuff that i took into the garage.... NOPE...


please don't think that we are a bunch of buffoons, and don't have a clew... we are just a tad inexperienced, and had a series of unlikely events that strung together to create a rough day....
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Old 06-08-2010
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Quote:
please don't think that we are a bunch of buffoons, and don't have a clew... we are just a tad inexperienced, and had a series of unlikely events that strung together to create a rough day....
Absolutely not. Just a few suggestions in case any were overlooked. &&%$ happens even with the best planning! Been there and done that way too many times.

Keep posting, I've learned and continue to learn an immense amount from SailNet.
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