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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.

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Old 02-27-2011
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Came in to Marina del Rey late one afternoon after sailing on Santa Monica Bay. The wind is always westerly and my habit is to drift through the marina to the end and then make a left into my fairway, which is dead into the wind, and drop the main. This particular day, the wind had shifted and amped up to over 30+ knots thanks to Santa Ana winds. I followed my typical routine of sailing through the marina, except this time it was rail down and SCREAMING through the marina. It was a little harried as I was dodging boats and dinghies the whole way. As I approached my slip, the wind shadow of the apartment buildings slowed the wind and allowed an easy docking. BUT, I have asked myself a hundred times, "Why didn't you just turn into the wind and drop the main earlier"? I felt like such an idiot. Guess old habits die hard.

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Old 03-04-2011
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Originally Posted by pogosmoke View Post
So here is mine:

I was in the Air Force single(divorced) about 23 years old. I was stationed in the panhandle of Florida, Fort Walton Beach. I had always wanted to have a sailboat. My father had always talked about building one etc but I knew he was all talk. So I decide Im going to buy one. My only boating exp. was a flatbottom boat in the creeks of north Alabama. Well I find a Hunter 26.5 in Pensacola, which is about 45-50 miles away. I take a couple days of leave get my fellow arimen roomate to go with me who also has no baoting exp. We pay the man $5000 dollars for the boat get on he shows us how to run up the sail etc and I am now a sailboat Capt.

Its March and cold and really windy. We are on the western side of the Pensacola Bay and are heading east. Its about 4pm when we leave the dock. We get in the channel next to the dock try to put the sails up but are so clueless we could ony spin in circles it was truly pathetic. We decide to put the sails down and use the 6hp outboard motor. Now were cooking. About 45 mins to an hour goes by and it gets dark. We decide to try to cross the bay and anchor in the ICW for the night. So here we are trudging across the bay on a cold windy night. I have CCR cranked up on the stereo with a beer in my hand and I feel like Im on top of the world. I can see to my right the outline of the shore between me and the gulf. It is just a narrow strip of sand and pine trees and is nothing but a national forest type land with nothing really on it. Its about 200 yards to my right. All of a sudden my buddy pops his head out of the cabin and says "Did you hear something?" Then BOOM we hit a sandbar. The boat runs up on it real good with the help of the 3ft waves that are coming across the bay. The boat is sitting at almost a 45 degree angle and waves are splashing over the side onto us. We are standing on the edge of the boat holding onto the standing rig for the main. Stuck. Its dark cold and there is no one else on the water and we are 200 yards from the shore.

My buddy cannot swim and is pretty much freaking out. Im trying to calm him down but its not working. Luckily we have a dinghy we are pulling behind us. I tell him to make for the dinghy. He finally gets up the courage and stumbles a few steps and falls face first into the dinghy. I crawl into the cabin grab some flares and climb in with him and we paddle toward shore eventually have to get out and pull the boat in due to the tide and wind. Here we are on an empty shore soaking wet freezing to death and I can see my 2 hour $5000 investment titlted over and rocking in the night. I feel like a total idiot but am glad to be alive at this point. We use the dinghy to make a shelter and used the flares to start a fire. Spent the night huddle up next to each other unde the dinghy freezing. The next day we walk several miles to a rnager station and call SeaTow who charged us $500 to pull it of remarkably unharmed.

They then tell me about navigation bouys and how Im suppossed to stay in between them. Now I really feel stupid. Needless to say we took our sweet time going the reast of the way. To top it off I got worms from the incident as well. All in all it took us three nights to go about 45 miles.
Good story. The courage of youth!
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Old 03-05-2011
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Still ashamed (10 years later)

That's easy: I dis-masted a $42000 rig by not ensuring the crew knew how to use a navtec hydraulic system and by not double-checking the yard's initial mast stepping.
Backround: Wrapping up a 32 hour near coastal run RI - Northern MA.
After giving up the helm and heading to my pilot-berth, I soon heard slack-sail shortly after a what I knew to be the last tack of the trip. I said to myself, "I'll go up and straighten things out if we're not trimmed in a few minutes". 10 minutes later, it sounded worse. I headed to the cockpit and asked my buddy "what's up with main-trim"? Just as I said this, looking aloft, it all came down.... Like "TIMBER!"... came-down! The main-spar split at the first spreader, falling aft. It was inclement weather; midnight; 12 mi offshore; cold water; no moon; sleeting; 25kts. Since the masthead mount VHF antenna was now at a depth of about 10', I had to hope cell phone coverage existed. Luckily, it did. I didn't call a mayday, but advised USCG of our circumstance and position. They came out as a courtesy, all while we cut away what rod we could, rested the 60+ mast (with crumpled-mainsail) on the stern lifelines/stanchions, using it more or less as a massive rudder while under power. We used the sheets attached to the primaries to alter our mega-rudder's position. The rig was inhibiting the wheel/rudder, but luckily the prop wasn't fouled. We eventually made it to Port by about 5AM under the navigational guidance of USCG and a very kind Harbor Master. They never boarded or even laid us a line. They said "they never saw anybody so calm under such circumstances". I guess that's was some sort of thread I grasped in an attempt to preserve what was left of my ego. In actuality, my crew (also a good friend) and I were so pissed at each other, we wouldn't talk unless absolutely necessary.

It turns out, all this was made possible by the commissioning yard clevis-pinning, but not cotter/ring pinning and taping the fore-stay at the masthead. More to the point... I never checked the yard's work. I suffered the consequences. I never pursued damages against the yard as I felt a good captain would have done his due-diligence by going aloft, checking the rigging as a multi-day cruise was lined-up immediately after seasonal launch.

My major-malfunction(s) were impatience, poor communication and lack of preparation. I knew the crew-member's personality. I should have known he wasn't listening to a damn thing I was saying when explaining the use of the Navtec system.

Last edited by lstonevo; 03-12-2011 at 08:31 PM. Reason: improve readability
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Old 03-23-2011
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I was taking a novice for a sail on the SF Bay. I had her point the boat into the wind as I hoisted the main. I had a problem with the halyard and we were in shallow water, so I asked her to keep an eye on the depth. She told me we were in 2 feet (obliviously, calibrated for the keel). The bottom is mud, and we might go a quarter mile before we went to 1 foot, so... I said "no problem, tell me when we get to one foot". I hoisted the Main, and we sailed off, across the Bay.
We decided to do a down winder into the boulder lined, Oakland Estuary, (See where this is headed?). She was doing well at the helm and had clearly grasped the concept of keeping the jib full, and using it to avoid an accidental jibe. We were clipping along nicely at about 5 knots. There was nobody in our path, so I decided to go to the Head (near the bow on Port). I asked her to yell if she had any problems.
Fortunately, I decided to wash my hands in the Galley at the companionway on Starboard, instead of in the Head, on Port. As I looked out the portlight...I swear, if Lexan had not been in my way, I think I could have almost reached out and touched boulders! Fortunately, I could reach the tiller from the salon, and proceeded to shove it to Starboard! I had no idea what was on Port (i.e., other vessels), but it certainly couldn't be any worse then what was inches away on Starboard!
About ten minutes later, when my pulse returned to a normal rate, I asked her what she was thinking. She replied, "well... we were still in two feet of water, I thought we were OK".
Lesson learned: Don't assume anything with a novice, no matter how well they appear to be doing! I know what you are probably thinking. Believe me...this lady is reasonably intelligent!
This happened about four years ago, and it still makes me shudder. That could have been REALLY UGLY!

Last edited by L124C; 04-17-2013 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 03-23-2011
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Maybe she thought she was in a bumper boat and it would just bounce off the rocks ;-)
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Old 03-24-2011
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Originally Posted by lstonevo View Post
That's easy: I dis-masted a $42000 rig by not ensuring the crew knew how to use a navtec hydraulic system and by not double-checking the yard's initial mast stepping.
It turns out, all this was made possible by the commissioning yard clevis-pinning, but not cotter/ring pinning and taping the fore-stay at the masthead. More to the point... I never checked the yard's work. I suffered the consequences. I never pursued damages against the yard as I felt a good captain would have done his due-diligence by going aloft, checking the rigging as a multi-day cruise was lined-up immediately after seasonal launch.
As a Skipper, taking responsibility is certainly noble, and checking the yards work is the prudent thing to do. However, I think you should have made the yard accountable for their mistake (if it was in fact, the cause of the failure). It would encourage the yard not to make the same mistake again. Not every boat owner has the skills to check the yards work, which may be why they turned the boat over to "professionals" in the first place. If the boat was insured, I'm surprised the insurance company didn't go after the yard for compensation.

Last edited by L124C; 03-24-2011 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 04-09-2011
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Originally Posted by CharlieCobra View Post
Tell me yours and I'll tell ya mine
Most boneheaded sailing move ever for me?

First time I went out on an all-day sailing venture, I actually returned to shore, settled in for the night, got up on Monday, and went back to my job.

Dumbest thing I ever did. I should have went straight home, grabbed all my shorts and loud flowered shirts, sandals, Jimmy Buffet Collection, cases of beer, and left it all behind.

I've been trying to make it happen ever since.

Someday, man. Someday.

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Old 05-06-2011
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The inaugural delivery trip in my 27' Calypso was memorable in several ways, not the least of these being coming under fire from a German Frigate.

Last summer, and I'm 7nm South of the Eddystone Light, off Plymouth, UK.
Going along nicely, when the radio bursts into life:
"Securite Securite Securite...zis is ze German warship 'Lubeck'
Ve vill be commencing live firing excercises in sea area xxN xxxW from 1400 until 1600"

My crewmate - his first sailing experience and first time on the water out of sight of land - says "that's not anywhere near to us, is it ?" in a wide-eyed, high-pitched tone.
I reply..."er, it's almost exactly where we are...."

Presently a large grey shape looms up on the horizon, and bears down at an impressive rate of knots...after zooming around us for 20 minutes she halts about a mile off our stbd beam and procedes to lower a large, triangular orange target buoy into the water.
Did I mention that we have orange/brown sails ?

To cut a long story short, we then spend what seemed like days, heads down, waiting for the inevitable round through the hull, as the German Navy opened up with every weapon at their disposal.

Safely back on dry land some days later, I google the 'Lubeck' - and find that she's famous for shooting herself, amongst other things...

So what did I learn ? - Always contact the Coastguard with your sailplan - and to not resemble a naval target buoy if at all possible.

Last edited by AlexEss; 05-06-2011 at 05:56 AM.
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Old 05-11-2011
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Bone head moves is an excellent application of the OPM principle, and so I'll keep my head low... To extend a day's on the water experience, we thought we'd anchor off a little beach on the other side of the channel. Not a big deal except it was flood tide. Not a big deal except there was a bridge "downstream". Notwithstanding a PWC with operator crossing my bow, the main sheet jibing and taking my glasses (dropping exactly 50% in the water, retaining the balance in the web of the sheet) I shortly was advised that we were drifting... (barrelling would be a more apt term) into the bridge. I turned the boat into the flood current, stern facing the secondary pier at WOT. While was able to brace the stern rail, I could not prevent some deformation of the outboard motor casing. Judging this was not a sustainable position, I allowed the boat to rotate and set her hull against the pier. The shrouds rested against the bridge deck. As I contemplated my next moves, a power boat position itself upstream, we set a tow line and pulled us off to where we could set our plow anchor. Oh, anchor, yeah, that would have been the first bonehead non-move, not dropping our anchors in the first place.

Our hull suffered only surface scrapes, our motor, though continued to run, despite a cracked spark plug, and some surface plastic damage to the power pack. This gives rise to continued boneheadedness (what, that's not a word?) in that it took motor getting very quiet at the wrong time 8 days later for me to discover the cracked plug which imposed excess demand on the powerpack which gave up the ghost at that particular inopportune moment.

Lessons learned:
Croakies, have 'em on board and USE 'EM;
Anchors: Keep them at the ready and USE 'EM when your goin' where you don't wanna be goin';
Brain: Use it, and don't be playing around bridge abutments or other hard objects in a sail boat. Think about where that moving water will take you.

Now I'll see if anyone has topped me in the bonehead department.

Yes, the pic in the signature is reflective of other lessons learned, but while that was a bonehead navigational error, the outcome was quite benign, almost pleasant, and perhaps saved us from worse (running the same bridge on a strong ebb flow in the really dark dark).
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Old 05-11-2011
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OK, this IS embarrassing, but here goes...

One of the first times we had the boat out (my first boat, although I have crewed for years on other people's boats) we ran into 25+ knot winds.

The boat really started to heel (no reef in the main - first mistake). My 6 year old freaked out, as we got into an extreme heel, and he grabbed my fiancé and clung onto her (as she likes to put it) "like a little monkey". He wouldn't let go, and she couldn't move to help me.

Well, the wind kept gusting and the boat kept heeling further and further... The rudder was almost useless due to the heeling, AND I didn't have the main sheet in my hand (2nd mistake) and it had blown to the other side of the cockpit. I was afraid to leave the tiller and my fiancé was wearing a 6 year old boy straight jacket, unable to help.

So........ I was able to grab the main halyard and thought I might be able to just let it go... but the wind was far too strong and that was impossible.

Eventually I managed to turn the boat into the wind and grab the mainsheet. The near 90 degree heel finally ended.

Needless to say, we had to motor back to the slip and have a pep-talk with my son. He quickly got over it and agreed to go back out... this time with Dad firmly grasping the mainsheet the entire time!

Since then I have learned that the Merit 25 will not capsize due to wind alone in a small lake (it needs the help of large ocean swells) AND I ALWAYS have the mainsheet in my hand. I can hear my college friend’s voice still echoing in my head while he was teaching me how to sail a lightning…

“In high wind ALWAYS hold the mainsheet and if you start to heel out of control just pop it out of the cleat” oh, yeah… I forgot about that!
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