What's your biggest bonehead move sailing? - Page 27 - SailNet Community
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post #261 of 614 Old 12-16-2008
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That's awesome. My Div. O on my FFG used to let me keep my surfboards onboard. The funny looks from PI fishermen when I rented a RIB to motor out to the point off of SW Grand Island outside Subic were priceless.
No Bonehead mishaps to speak of and not directly sailing related.
You just reminded me of the challenges of hobbies onboard Uncle Sam's Yacht club.

Originally Posted by stroudw View Post
I was in the Navy, on a destroyer based out of Philadelphia. In the summer of 1972 we went to Winter Harbor, ME to show the colors at the annual lobster festival. With the XO's permission I brought along a borrowed Sunfish.

On the day of the festival while the off duty crew was motored ashore in the ships whale boat yours truely launched the Sunfish off the torpedo deck. Didn't I think I was special. My very own liberty launch and babe magnet. My sailboat.

The festival was outside at a community park right at the town landing. Somehow I managed to reach the pier without getting the seat of my pants completely soaked. I doused the sail, tied off to the pier, pulled the centerboard and and the rudder and lashed everything in place.

There were people from all over the northeast in town for the lobster festival, include a number of pretty coeds. Two of them caught my eye right away. I maneuvered into position and started a conversation. The conversation took off and things were going well. Somewhere between the lobster, the beer and the blueberry pie I asked if either of the girls would be interested in going sailing. They were both interested, but I could only take one out at a time. Whoever wants to go first, just take a seat in the boat while I get everything rigged and hoist the sail. Off we go into a nice fresh breeze.

Now, if you've ever sailed a Sunfish, you'll probably remember that the sheet is lead back to a wire traveler on the stearn, and the tiller is rigged under the traveler....usually. In this case I had sort of overlooked that detail and had the tiller on top of the traveler. Well, on our first tack this didn't present any problem. I had full control of the rudder from about midships to hard left. Not until I tried to manuever away from some rocky outcropping did I realize my predicament. Without any right rudder there was only one thing to do, come left and jibe. The results were, as you would expect, an unplaned dip in some pretty cold water, with everyone, including most of my shipmates watching.

We managed to get the Sunfish back on her feet and sailed back to the pier. She was the last person to accept a ride from me that weekend.

Signature picture courtesy of Cal20 Class Assn.
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post #262 of 614 Old 12-27-2008
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I'm a self taught sailor who single handed a lot in the first few years, so I have a books worth of bonehead moves. One of the biggest though was my first excursion in the deep blue sea in my new to me Venture 24.

We had just joined a club of small boat sailors and out first outing was a weekend cruise to Catalina from Marina Del Rey. I had just purchased the boat from a guy who kept it at a lake and it had NO equipment aboard for ocean sailing. I installed a VHF the morning of the trip and had a handheld compass onboard. Well, while I was at the dock trying to start my antique Gale Buccanner, the fleet left for the island. I finally got the thing going and left the dock about 15min behind the fleet.

When I got past the breakwater I saw the fleet heading due south. I couldn't raise anybody on the radio but was fairly certain I could catch up as my boat had been pretty heavily modified and was one of the faster boats in the fleet. The course was a little low for Catalina but I figured the fleet was sailing down far enough to be able to turn and run to the island.

I caught up about 8 miles offshore only to discover I was chasing the wrong fleet. Well, after discovering my mistake, I got new coordinates for the island from the boaters I had overtaken, then set a new course. About that time a storm warning was issued over the VHF. The Venture 24 has no business being sailed offshore and mine had deep cut sails and no reef points. The winds got well over 30 knots and we sailed the next 18 miles with the port windows buried. When we finally got to the Isthus at Catalina, the Windex on the masthead had been wiped off during the multiple round ups and knockdowns and the rig, which I had so carefully tuned, was rocking side to side nearly a foot at the masthead. The shrouds had been stretched so badly that I had to have them cut down.
When we finally ran into the fleet the next day everybody was suprised to see us as they thought we had stayed in port due to engine trouble.

I learned a lifetimes worth of lessons on that trip alone and 20 years later it still influences my cruise planning.
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post #263 of 614 Old 12-27-2008
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1 did not listen to my room mate who said" we should fix the trailer first". Trailer bunks floated away, and had to be lashed back on with rope.

2 left friends on boat (NOT tied to dock)and parked truck. Boat floated away.

I could go on but I'll let some one else chime in.......

CM 21 #291

I fight to refuse a battle of wits against a one armed man.
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post #264 of 614 Old 12-31-2008
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Forgetting to unplug the shore power before backing out of the slip.

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post #265 of 614 Old 01-02-2009
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What a great Thread!

I've been fortunate enough to have sailed over most of the Atlantic and Pacific in 40 years - so I've had lots of opportunities to make Bonehead moves.
The only one that I still re-live in my sleep was picking up a mooring float off of Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport many years ago. I'm sure others saw this but everyone (I assume) was so gracious that no one ever said a peep to me. Ever.
I had been Captaining/sailing a 60' sloop, single-handed, for the past ten months and had gotten very proficient at maneuvering in tight quarters, docking / undocking in lousy conditions, anchoring, etc..
I had rented a mooring for several months near Ida Lewis and was quite comfortable motoring into the wind, aiming for my mooring float, and making the pick-up. I’d back down on the motor as I approached the float and as the sight of the float disappeared around the bow (it was a 60’ boat), I’d pop the transmission into neutral, smartly walk up to the bow, pick up the mooring, grab the anchor line, make it fast, and call it a day. It ALWAYS went well.
One day with the wind blowing like snot, I came in a “little” hot. The process was the same, reverse to near stand-still and so forth.. This time reversing didn’t have the desired effect as I was going TOO DAMN FAST. The boat that I was about to run into as I over-shot the mooring was a lovingly restored 12 Meter former America’s Cup racing boat. Oh Jesus.. I popped the transmission into neutral, RAN to the bow, jumped into the bow pulpit and tried to push off the stern of the 12 Meter boat using my legs. I still had too much forward motion and , hey, my legs are two feet too short!! While hanging on the bow pulpit of my boat I jumped onto the stern of the 12 Meter I was about to buy (no, I couldn’t afford it). I managed to keep the two boats apart by pushing the 12 Meter stern with my legs and pushing my bow pulpit. They never touched but there was plenty of swinging going on.. And now I’ve got to jump back on my Home at sea! Somehow I managed to climb back onboard through the bow pulpit, run to the cockpit, put the boat in reverse and start all over again – in a better fashion. I didn’t make the same mistake twice that day and once I got hooked up to my mooring I went below and think I drank about five shots (large) of Mt. Gay before I was able to exhale.
If you think you’ve ever screwed up while docking or picking up a mooring – I can tell you 1st hand, you really haven’t.
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post #266 of 614 Old 01-03-2009
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Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
My wife and Iwent out sailing with a work aquaintance of my wife's (also our financial 'engineer') - just both couple's aboard on thier liveaboard 43 ft Voyage catamaran. On the way out one of the diesel's overheated so we went to a single engine; while troubleshooting that I noticed that the husband and wife team relied on Auto as a skipper more than I would have (we were on the South river near Annapolis, in August, not exactly void of traffic).
Anyway we go out, slowly sail across the bay and back. I've never been there before so I have the skipper point out the river mouth,from a mile or so out. He sets the course, slaps on the auto and goes back to socializing - we're sailing away at about 3-4 kts on a close reach. Cruise mode, no sail trim no skipper.
After a while he ducked into the cabin to muck about for something and while he was inside I stepped from the back of the cockpit to the helm and unobtrusively peeked under the jib. I noticed the red spider mark (huge triple piling) about 200 yards forward on a collision course. I yelled out to the owner what I saw and that I was changing course to Port(towards the center of the river) by 15degrees - he acknowledged that, and then I did so.
I picked up my drink, and proceded to the back of the cockpit. Meanwhile the wives were sitting on the port side conversing - the owners wife with a clear view forward.
The owner came out with hamburgers and proceded to the gas bar-b- que on the stern - never looking, oblivious.
We smacked into the piling on the starboard corner of the forward crossbeam - the owners wife and I went forward while the owner cranked the engine and backed us off - we and only noted a tar smudge (we were looking at the wrong place as it turns out - we looked at the port side, we hit on the starboard - four feet of leeway less and we would have cleared the bouy.
I felt terrible because I should have known that I was the only one paying attention (I had experience with similar Catamarans but up until this point had never sailed on this one). I commented I'd make it right (thinking it was compounding off some tar), while the owner was giving me at ration about not paying attention.
Turns out the forward crossbeam was dented and bent six inches deep, the fiberglass on the starboard bow had three of four tearing rips and had almost separated from the beam - but we didn't truly notice that until I went forward to look - AFTER tying up the boat to the pier, the owners wife had pratically stood on the ripped up section to tie up the boat and not noticed it. Getting to be a theme here isn't it....
oh, yeah, we continued sailing with that damage, oblivious to all...Wonder how much ripping and bending occured because of that 400 sq ft jib pulling away...
6 weeks or so later, I get an email with a bill for 7500 bucks - the total cost to repair. I'm nice, but not rich. I asked the owner what he thought my fair share was. He said 100% as I was sailing the boat. Two weeks of emails getting more and more contenious and he never once took any of the responsibility (or decreased his demand for 100% of the bill) and I finally told him bugger off, take a course on responsibility at sea and grow up.

Needless to say, I paid nothing - except now I NEVER, EVER take the helm of someone elses boat - so I paid nothing in cash, a lot in LIFE.

I thought I would take some time on a quiet day to learn something from others goofs - I've certainly learned from mine. But on the subject of having someone else take the helm....

I was sailing my Stiletto 27 from Chincoteague to Ocean City under spinnaker with a nice 10 knot SE sea breeze, going a bit over 10 knots. We were getting close - we could see the jet skiers playing in some sand bar surf to the south of the inlet and the ferris wheel. As it was time to drop the chute, I asked my daughter to take the helm and put the boat dead down wind while I dropped the chute. I was in cruise mode, the weather was easy.... We didn't worry about shoals in those days because with the board up we only drew 18" + kick-up rudders.

So I took my time getting ready to drop the sail. My daughter steered neatly down wind, but perhaps it was her first time steering on the ocean, and she didn't know to watch for breakers, and that they don't look like much from the back side - just a little glassier than other swells. We had a depth sounder, but it always ventilated at over 7-8 knots. The next thing I knew we were blasting through the sandbar surf (probably over 4' deep) in the midst of 20 jetskiers. We either looked adventurous... or like complete fools.

The water was deeper inside. We dropped everything without incident. My failing was zoning out on a nice day, assuming the skipper protem would see the same things I saw. I have learned to give any temporary helmsman a complete listing of navigation hazards for the time I will be gone.
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post #267 of 614 Old 01-03-2009
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Broadcreek, I loved your story. I laughed picturing you jumping from boat and back like slapstick. Just so you won't feel lonely:
Just over ten years ago I bought a lovely gaff yawl in Noank, Ct. My Dad crewed for me on the november delivery back up the Sound. We used a borrowed dory to bring our gear aboard, and set out westward. On a long tack we almost passed the Dumplings(?) at the west end of Fisher's Island Sound. On a short tack we were set all the way back past Ram Island, where we started. FIS is notorious for strong tidal currents, and we weren't able to tack out against them. No problem, we'll motor. The seller had repaired a starter problem. She fired right up. But all I got was a cloud of black smoke, with very little motion. Hmmm. Ok, we'll try again tomorrow. Killed the engine, sailed toward a marina dock. When we got close, I hit the starter: Click. Click, click click. Hmmmm. Well, I'd sailed a 20' sloop up and down canals for years without an engine, I can dock this one too. I put the helm down...... not much. Up, not enough. We're going to hit that tall pier. I pictured embarrassment and expense. A broken bowsprit, the boat stored for the winter on the wrong side of the Sound. Visits to repair her. Dad, ever optimistic, sprung onto the sprit to fend off. Don't ! you can't stop her, you'll just get hurt! CCCCRRRRuuuunnncchhhh. She went right through. Stuck into the pier like a lawn dart. Dad: "what now?" Me:"tie up, we're here".
I struggled with shame and thrift, but conscience won out, I told the manager I'd broken " a couple of boards". Front or top? he asked. Front. We are going to replace them all this winter, forget it.
We found a great little restaurant, ate seafood and home baked pie. Slept comfortably, in spite of freezing temps. The rest of the delivery actually got worse, but that's another story.
I later learned that the prop was covered in barnacles, the starter repair was incomplete, and the sternpost wasn't faired into the rudder, making for bad steering at low speed. I had many better adventures with that little beauty though.
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post #268 of 614 Old 01-03-2009
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If only they were filming it.

I had gone out to California to visit a college buddy and went sailing with him and a friend who knew how to sail. It was fun, we went again the next day. A couple of days later we drove up to Santa Barbara to rent a sailboat where we could go out in the ocean, seeing as how were 'experienced' now, without the guy who knew how to sail. Four of us sailed out into the ocean and headed North up the coast. There were very impressive cliffs along theshore and we could see a beach. My buddie's girlfriend suggests we go ashore for lunch, so we head into the beach.

Shortly before we hit the beach we hear a roar and there is this huge breaker rolling in! It carries us way up the beach, and then roars back down the beach. This is a keel boat, and all of a sudden we are sitting on dry ground. The boat falls over, dumping us all out on the beach. The next breaker throws us even higher on the beach, and fills the boat with water. I'm thinking, "Oh crap, I rented the boat!"

The four of us grab the boat and try running down the beach as the next wave rolls back into the ocean. We don't make it, as the next incoming wave throws us back on the beach. After about six tries it doesn't look like we are going to make it. Then I realize the breeze is blowing off the shore. So I pulled in the mainsheet and jib and we again push the boat down the beach. This time when the keel clears the bottom the boat takes off like a rocket, with no one onboard and the four of us trailing from a rope off the stern! I manage to climb back on board and pull the others up. We spend the rest of the trip bailing so the owner doesn't realize how close we got to sinking it.

"You guys havea any trouble?" "No sir, a fine day to go sailing!"
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post #269 of 614 Old 08-05-2009
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I have a MacGregor 25 trailer sailor that my wife and I frequently sail in various places along the Chesapeake. The boat isn't anything to write home about, but it's our first and we're having a great time spending the weekends on it learning the ins and outs of cruising. We always take our dogs along, that is my wife's only stipulation.

My bonehead mistake story is actually a long chain of events.

After a long day of sailing, swimming and drinking seawater, we all stopped for dinner at a place called Owen's in Poquoson. The nice waitress brought our dogs a big mixing bowl of water. I neglected to notice that she filled it up THREE TIMES. After dinner we let the dogs run in the grass and do their business then we motored off to a creek we identified as 15 feet deep to set anchor. At 0400 I awoke with that dreaded feeling that we were moving. Sure enough we had moved about halfway across the creek, but appeared to have stopped. As I was going back to bed I noticed one of the dogs looking at me with her legs crossed. Swallowing my dignity I let her pee in the cockpit and washed it down with a few buckets of water. As I was going below I heard my wife start laughing her brains out and saw our other dog pissing all over my bed. In a fit of anger I grabbed the dog (still pissing) and threw her on deck. We spend a good amount of time cleaning up the mess and then decided to cut our losses and make a sunrise cruise back home.

I started the motor and threw it into gear and we went nowhere. I looked over the side and we were nestled into about a foot of water and a foot of mud. With the motor at full throttle and me pulling with all my might we were able bounce to deeper water in about 30 minutes. When we finally started moving I realized I had been wading through a field of jellyfish and stingrays.

Moral of the story, don't let the dogs drink seawater and don't leave the anchor chain that doubles as a trailer safety chain back on the trailer. And learn to read a chart, we were in the wrong creek.

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post #270 of 614 Old 08-05-2009
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Lots of bonehead moves in 50-years of sailing, but the most recent happened in March of 2008 as we were trying to sail east of a Force 10 storm in the Gulf driven by a cold front that was making our way at 35 mph, packing internal winds of 50-60 knots. We didn't make it and got knocked flat when it hit us, down to the cabin trunk handrails and sails filled with water. As we rounded up into the wind, started the engine and began dropping sails, we somehow let a jib sheet go over the side - then as Murphy's Law would dictate - it went under the boat, tangled in the prop and stopped the engine. With no control of the boat, the main hung on the spreader and ripped - couldn't be lowered.
We no engine and a rapidly shredding main, we had no choice but to turn and run before the storm for the next 36 hours in 50-60 knot winds, gusting higher and 30 foot seas.

s/v Paloma, Bristol 29.9, #141
Slipped in Bahia Marina, easy access to Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Last edited by johnshasteen; 08-05-2009 at 11:19 PM.
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