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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 07-22-2010
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Learning, the hard way...

Now I know that some of you old salts will have to roll your eyes and think I'm a total idiot. That's OK, because I'm not going to argue with you. There's a whole lot of 20/20 hindsight going on in my head at this point.

Here's the result of a major mis-calculation:



And here's the story.

Windy day. I figure a quick jaunt to the island and back to see how she handles in some decently gusty weather.

Mainsail up and sheeted in hard. Theoretically this will keep my bow to the wind, but the boat is still rocking and rolling quite a bit (I launch from a relatively turbulent area where the wind swirls around a point.)

Jib hanked on and flapping loosely in the wind.

I start pulling out the rudder to get it attached, stand up with one hand on the mast to keep my balance. WHAM big gust of air.

My instincts tell me to hold on tight and lean windward, but it wasn't enough. Over I went.

In slight panic mode I haul myself back up onto my rubber raft (that's how I get out to the boat.) Take a quick breather and assess the situation.

At this point the boat is 90'. Sails flat on the water.

I notice it's starting to turtle, and I thought "Oh ****, I better get it back up before it's too late. I manage to climb on the boat and hang off the top deck. No dice. It's still slowly turtling.

OK, while all this is happeneing, the nice crew on the ferry that I launch next to notice they have a man overboard and start honking their horn. At first I ignore the first couple blasts because they often do that to warn other boats that they're leaving dock.

I look over and see they're launching their rescue skiff. "Ah ****" was really the only thing going through my head. I know they're just being safe and concerned, but I was really in no danger except being cold, wet, and embarrassed.

They circle a couple times, and I assure them that I'm just fine and just trying to figure out how to get the boat righted. They're satisfied and they take off.

After hanging on the boat (the centerboard is up, so I have nothing to really leverage myself with) for 15 minutes or so and starting to get very cold, I decide to throw all the flotsam into the rubber raft, drag myself to shore and figure out where to go from there.

As I'm getting out, up come running 2 paramedics asking me where the drowning victim is.... I politely and appologetically explain the situation, and we all have a good laugh. They tell me it looks like it's a really nice boat to make me feel better and they go on their way. Appearently not less than 5 people on the ferry dock called 911 to let them know there was someone drowning and/or man overboard...

I run home, throw on some clothes, grab my camera. The picture you see above is now the coast guard hovering 100 yards off. I assume they got word and decided to check it out.

No communication with them today though.



Tomorrow, low tide, and recovery of Sisyphus.

It will take a bit longer for my ego to recover.

Thing's I learned today:

1: Sisyphus doesn't care what my sailing book says about how it should act with the mainsail up on a mooring.
2: Just ******* let go of the boat instead of pulling it over with you.



I hope you all had a better day than I did
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Old 07-23-2010
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Thought one: why was the centerboard up? having the centerboard down may have helped.

Thought two: Sounds like you may want to rethink your rigging order. Why get the sails up before getting the rudder hung?
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Old 07-23-2010
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Hey, we have all done things that we look back on and say "UMHHHHH, why did I do that?". That however is a great picture to hang on the wall to start conversations. I missed the mooring ball initially, and after I read your story I saw it and had to laugh. Could be the Coasties were taking pictures for new recruits.

All that being said: Rudder and centerboard on first. Main loose until you are ready. Sheeting in the main before the centerboard is down in gusts probably would have caused you to go over even if you did not grab on.

Better luck next time.....and taking the ribbing you will get with a grain of salt. They PROBBLY mean well.
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Old 07-23-2010
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Dude - that is epic! At least you handled it well and learned a couple of lessons. Thanks for the story.
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Old 07-23-2010
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Hey, I was out last week-end and mis-identified one small island for another and went from 10 feet of water down to three very quickly. Needless to say, the boat (which fortunately was not under sail at the time, just motoring around 4 knots) came to a rather abrupt stop. My son quickly threw it into reverse and we motored away from the shallows, but I'm sure all the other boats were saying things like, "Doesn't that idiot know its only 3 feet deep over ther?" or other comments of the like. So, use it like a learning experience, just like I did.
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Old 07-23-2010
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I like your attitude. Your ego, and your boat, will soon be back upright and ready to go back out.

Experience is a tough teacher, you got the test first and the lesson afterwards. But those are the lessons you remember the best.
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Old 07-23-2010
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10AM - Low Tide


11AM - Full recovery



Whole lotta learning going on!
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Old 07-23-2010
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A couple of thoughts:

1. It's not that bad and more common than you think. My first job (many, many years ago) was for a small marina with a rental fleet of boats just like yours. The standard procedure was 1) center board down, 2) rudder on, 3) main up and not sheeted, 4) jib up and not sheeted. Release the mooring buoy, grab the tiller, then sheet the main, followed by the jib. Your problem is that the sails were sheeted and that they caught a gust. Easy to fix - don't sheet those critters.

2. I can beat you when it comes to embarrassment. One example that's similar, but MORE embarrassing goes back to the late fall of 1978. I was part of Villanova's sailing team and we were in Albany NY racing RPI. It was dead calm and 45 degrees. An RPI guy stood up and grabbed the mast from the bow of his laser and sculled his boat to shore. Not one to be outdone, I stood up, grabbed the mast, pulled it to port, and fell in the water pulling the boat in with me. In front of all the rival teams. To much laughter. In really, really cold water. It can ALWAYS be more embarrassing.
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Old 07-24-2010
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At least you kept your shorts on!

Deputy rescues boater from Bayside Bridge

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Deputies say at one point, Dominguez removed his swimming trunks and used them to attempt to flag down help from a person passing by on a personal watercraft.
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Old 07-24-2010
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Actually, I did lose my shorts once. I fell overboard and grabbed a line while I was falling. So I ended up in the water with my shorts around my ankles, sailing at 3 kts, and holding on to a line with one hand. My wife was laughing hysterically while I screamed for her to release the sheets and stop the boat.

So, when a guy on Sailnet suggested trailing a line over the stern as an alternative to a harness, I was not impressed with the idea.
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