A friend and I got to talking and the tales of the sea came up. So even though I wrote about this before, it is still a good story to share.
I decided to take "Miss Snip" out solo for an late afternoon sail. I live near the Gulf o' Mexico so I have a nice body of water to play in. The problem is that in the late day hours the wind can pick up and get pretty nasty. That same wind blowing over some considerable sea kicks up some hairy waves as well.
Anyway, I had been out sailing with full main and 150% Genoa when the winds finally reached the reef or head in stage. I'm about 3 nm from shore. Since i'm solo I decide that i'll drop the main first and then turn and run with the Genoa (easily furled). All goes well for a while until the wind really started to pick up. I'm guessing 30-35? I stay with it because the boat is being pushed along at a exciting pace but i'm starting to lose some helm control as the large head sail is pulling the bow around at will. About 1000 yards from the inlet I need to duck in, I decide it's time to furl in the Genoa and motor in. That is when things turn ugly. I get about 2 turns out of the furler when it jams solid. It won't come in and it won't come out. AND because I have 2 turns on the furler shaft, I can't reach the internal halyard to drop the Genoa. I can run just fine but any other point of sail is impossible as the wind had too much control over the bow. Essentially I had a full 150% Genoa out in growing wind AND no mailsail up to allow other points of sail. Since the wind was behind me I was unable to raise the main either. I tried to use the motor to pull me round but the full genoa was too much for the motor. As I'm fighting all of this I notice that I have now run about 500 yards and now the shore is getting mighty close. I run forward and throw out the anchor which is also no match for the full genoa. I can feel it being dragged across the sea floor. Since the genny sheets are still stuck on the end knot at the genny car, I decide to release them to try and further dump the wind but all that does is release a huge 150% flag flapping wildly forward of my boat. Now I have ZERO control. I'm STILL dragging my crappy anchor (since replaced
) AND the motor STILL can't bring the boat through the wind. The wind is now closer to about 35-40 with the usual associated 6' rollers and white caps coming in. I find that the motor in reverse can keep me steady in position.... sort of.
So, here I am, motor running full tilt in reverse, tethered in on the pointy end of my boat trying to hand over hand manually roll in my Genoa. Every gust of wind tearing it out of my hands and tearing large nasty bleeding blisters into my hands. Plus, the rollers are following in so nice blasts of salt water foam are spraying me in the back and the boat is bucking and pitching wildly. I got about half of the sail in and noticed the motor was now able to pull the boat. I secured the remaining genoa and jury rigged a rope stop to keep it from unfurling again. I was TOTALLY exhausted. I get to the helm and turn for home. About 5 minutes later, while i'm in the channel, a gust of wind grabs the remaining genoa and BOOM it is yanked back open again. Since I was abeam to the wind it grabbed the bow of the boat and physically threw it sideways. I heeled to about 3 feet from the spreaders and nearly fell overboard! I was back to square one and now I was in the channel with NO control. Again the motor was useless. Fortunately, I had turned the corner of the beach so the wind direction was better and was blowing parallel to shore. I let the boat drift and went back to work up front. Hand over hand, each twist with excruciating pain as I futher tore open blisters. It took me ONE HOUR to get the genoa back in again. I drifted over 4 nms offshore by the time I had it secured!!! I was completely and absolutely spent. I sat back at the helm and began the slow motor into home. I was soaked to the bone, cold, and had dried blood and salt all over my arms and hands. I ignored the no wake rules at the dock and flicked off the old man who *****ed about my small wake. I had just had one hell of a sail.
I figured he could cut me some slack
BTW, I have since learned a VERY clever trick to deal with a rouge sail. Thanks to GIU.