Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Dallas, Texas
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Lesson Learned: Mast caught in tree limbs
I had just spent 1.5 hours rigging the 15 Ft. Sloop at a new docking location at the lake. Being fully aware of the mast which extends approximately 28 Ft high, physically walked the route to the dock to identify all high altitude hazards and how to avoid them. I began the process of backing the trailer n boat very slowly (1.5 mph) toward the dock. As I approached an oak tree and its potential branches, I stopped the truck, got out and looked closely. then proceeded to get the mast caught up in the branches. I was 3 minutes into moving the boat toward the dock. The resolution to the problem consumed another 2 hours. At this point, I resumed my approach to the dock along a different route. Even though I walked the new route, and observed the height hazards, the mast was once again caught in the branches of yet another oak tree. The solution consumed another 1.5 hours.
At the end of the day, I never did any sailing. However, I did learn a very important lesson....
1.) It seems the human eye cannot accurately assess the altitude hazards when you are standing in a position of "observation from a small distance" away from the potential hazard.
2.) Accurate altitude assessment, and its potential hazard to the mast can only be done by standing directly under the target, and look directly up at it; then look directly down and around where you are standing to evaluate the route to the dock at this point.
3.) When launching at a new docking location, extreme caution, analysis, and evaluation in all aspects (dock, ramp, left, right or center of ramp, ...) of launching needs to be performed; not under estimated.
4.) I typically sail solo, however, even with a "spotter", I would absolutely insist that the spotter stand directly under each hazard, and not off at a distance telling me all is well... The price paid to get a mast out of the altitude hazard, is overwhelming... It's sorta like removing a large fish hook tied to your boat and altitude hazard.