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Old 09-10-2015, 07:18 PM
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Frightening Sails??? What's your worst.

What was your worst experience on a sailboat? Mine was a pretty benign experience but was emergent because I didn't have a clue

Background: ex Navy Ship Physician Asst; lowered out of helo's to rescue people of ships; worked oil rigs and service ships for oil industry; rode out 3 hurricanes on large ships, on the bridge...winds over 100 mph and waves easily 80 feet....tossing a 400 ft long boat like it's a cork.

So my worst scariest episode on a boat:
My first boat was a C&C 24...I bought it on a Friday and exactly one week later my wife and I left our 13 year old (Andrew) home and went out on the boat. I spent up to 6 weeks at a time at sea so she figured I knew everything.

So we get off the dock with our Evinrude 9.9 hp and all is well. It was late October and the boat was coming out the next Tuesday...I'd had the boat on the dock for exactly 1 week and this was my second venture out on her. We start out and all is good, 10kts wind etc etc....I figured we'd go around the island which means we go to the outer harbour. On the way out there the wind came from behind and much colder. I looked back and saw these darker clouds that would suggest it might get "blustery"...

The wind came up 25 - 30 kts steady and I was headed out the harbour wing on wing. I know NOTHING about sailing and don't know what to do...except "steer this boat and keep your head"....ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT NEXT STOP IS BERMUDA (did I mention I didn't have a clue)....the seas aren't even up yet as this is pretty sudden. I am new to this boat, so I go through my mind what I have to do. My wife thinks all is OK...honest to ___k...she has no idea we were in trouble. I know I need to get the sails down and go through it in my mind....I need the help of my wife...and she has the same amount of sailing experience as me...NONE!

I look at my wife and say "it's getting windy, I'm going to take the sails down...and I point dead ahead at a large ship on the horizon..."keep the boat pointed at that ship" She did it perfect and I got the jib down and stuffed it below. I then came back, started the 9.9 and turned the boat...main still up the boat leaned to the toe rail, engine screaming. I picked out a landmark downtown and told Melinda " keep the boat going toward that tower"...OK...and she did it. I got the main down and wrapped it.

So now the C&C 24 is headed back to the dock at about 2.5 kts....engine screaming all it can do. We covered so much ground that it took us about 2 hrs to make it into the opening of Eastern Passage through building seas and white caps. About a mile from the club I haul out my cell phone...a fine thing to have in 1999...I had the yacht club on speed dial and called them...Brad (my buddy the sailmaker) came to the phone and I told him I was on my way in and didn't think I could dock the boat. Brad said "we will be there to catch you". 20 minutes later I come into the marina and do my best to bring it in...6 guys are there to catch me with 30 kts on my stern and I have about 3 previous docking experiences with ANY boat. I bring her in and the guys are lined off the catch me...my 9.9 goes into reverse and full throttle...might as well have tried to stop it with a break pedal on the cockpit floor...nodda. She rode onto the marina about half way to her keel then slid back in slow motion.

As she slid back the boys grabbed her and tied her up...Brad looks at me and said "you look like you need a beer". Melinda was worried about damage to the boat but everyone told her that won't hurt it...so she says "I'll just go home and check on Andrew...I'll pick you up later"....and off she goes.

She got about 50 feet away and I say "Holy ____, Holy ____ etc. I explained to the guys what happened and Brad says..."well the Wife took it well"...I explained she didn't realize what was happening at the time and the guys are just mesmerized that she took it so well. It was a couple of years later when I told my wife about her near death experience. She said "I just did what you said". "You looked so calm I didn't worry...figured you had it". (In my mind I say Holy ....K). Training from working in an ER I suppose LOL...poker face.

Now, something like that happening today...nothing to it...but THEN it could have gotten us both lost and with a 13 yr old home waiting for us to come home.
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"Odyssey"
1976 C&C 30 MKI

The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The realist adjusts the sails.
...Sir William Arthur Ward.

Last edited by Mo; 09-10-2015 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 09-10-2015, 09:54 PM
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Oh, I'm sure that mine is yet to come.

I have done the "suddenly find myself going downwind with too much sail in 30 kts" and done a fairly passable (I think) job of not letting on to the crew how scared I was. The boat did just fine.

Not a sailboat, but once there were four of us scuba diving on a Fiberform 26 in the San Juans. We were motoring to a new dive site, between tides. The ladies were in the cockpit, suiting up (a little prematurely, it turns out.) The owner was driving, and I was standing in the open companionway. (Is a sliding glass door a "hatch?")

"Hey, look at that!" About a quarter mile away, off the port bow, there was a big whirlpool, south of Lopez (IIRC). You could see big logs getting sucked into it, tipping up and getting sucked down to... who knows? So I'm helping the ladies and suddenly there is an expletive from the helm. The thing is sucking US into it, just like one of the logs. The boat doesn't answer to the helm. Suddenly we are horizontal. One of the ladies is hanging over the rail, the other is hanging on to her by shoulders, and I'm hanging on to her weight belt with one hand and the edge of the hatch with the other. It is a Long Way Down into frothy nothingness. By this time, the skipper had shoved the throttles to their stops and the props were beginning to take hold. We basically slingshotted around and got spat out the other side of the whirlpool, going back in the direction we came from.

The whole thing took less than a minute, but it took a long time for everyone to calm down. I can't help wondering what would happen to a small sailboat, or anything with less than twin V8's in that situation. I also keep picturing some guy in a kayak, blissfully paddling along, when one of those logs comes back up...
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  #3   IP: 24.138.22.213
Old 09-11-2015, 07:04 AM
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Thumbs up

Toddster...WOW, that would do it for me. I'd probably never go on the water again...being sucked into the abyss is pretty final. Now I'll be looking around for whirlpools on the Atlantic LOL
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"Odyssey"
1976 C&C 30 MKI

The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The realist adjusts the sails.
...Sir William Arthur Ward.
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:20 AM
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There is one near Lubec Maine where the tide range is about 40 feet. We went by it taking a ferry from Campobello Island to get to Saint Andrew's, but it wasn't really going at the time.

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Originally Posted by Mo View Post
Toddster...WOW, that would do it for me. I'd probably never go on the water again...being sucked into the abyss is pretty final. Now I'll be looking around for whirlpools on the Atlantic LOL
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Old 09-11-2015, 10:06 AM
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I got caught in a 50kt squall this Wednesday, while on final approach to the finish line during our beer can race. This was reported from 2 boats with wind instruments.

Previously, the most wind I'd ever sailed in was 32kts.
This was different. I was in a very narrow channel, surrounded by other racers. It looked like a giant had thrown a bowling ball in our midst. Everyone was laid over, several showing their keels.

I was singlehanding, and only had a Tiller Clutch to hold the helm while I went forward to drop the jib. I put the engine on, and at WOT the GPS indicated between 0.0 and 0.2 kts against the squall.

That actually wasn't the scariest part. The lightning was worse. I grew up in Florida, the US Lightning Capital, and I've never seen lightning this bad. The northern edge of this storm cell was passing by, so I ran futher north, to my slip and stayed barely out of reach as the cell passed to the WNW.

I was surfing home at hull speed, under main alone.
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  #6   IP: 67.232.91.39
Old 09-11-2015, 11:03 AM
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I will classify my response as "Times I was most concerned". Because I have avoided for the most part, either by luck or planing, what would qualify as bad conditions.

Definitely had the "keep the poker face" moments. Over-canvassed, breaking beam seas that required constant helm adjustments to keep the boat half way stable etc. But most of the time it is just me so I can scream at the wind, tell myself what a dumb--- I am and no one will hear. A few that come to mind.

The first big storm I anchored out for slowly built and I made note of the boat movement. I was standing in the cabin looking aft when the MC swung in her normal way and a big gust hit her on the beam. I had striped her, even removing the boom, to reduce windage but she just slowly healed over, and over, and over. Finally stopped and slowly came back. The MC is by no means a "tender" boat so this got my attention. It probable was not as bad as I thought but again it was all new to me.

Last day of a four month trip south. I am just 5 miles from my slip but those last few miles are on the Neuse River and she was acting up. Steep short period breaking waves right on the nose. This is before I made a lot of changes to the MC. So I still had a tank full of krap, a undersized prop, no running rigging to the cockpit, no chartplotter, etc. Well you can guess what happened. Clogged filter, engine shut down, dash forward to raise the jib and BAM. I am hard aground. Most of this area is mud but there are some hard sand areas. I was now stern to the waves and each one lifted the boat and dropped her down hard. What a sickening sound. BAM BAM. I jump below and pull up the floor boards. No damage to the frame or planking and no water coming in. I had to gather myself before calling for a tow. To this day I use this experience as a part of my go/no go process.
I hope to never hear that sound again!

Being slammed into by another boat that had broken loose from it's mooring during a storm.

0300, middle of the gulf stream, been at the helm for 20 hrs straight, staying the heck away from the big ships and hoping to soon see the lights of the Florida coast.

Boat dragging down directly at us in a crowded anchorage during TS Beryl. I was very concerned that it would dislodge my anchor and we would both be dragging. That did not happen but it was coming right as us. Fired up the A-4 and had Linda on the bow to handle our anchor rode. When the other boat was about 50 ft away I powered up and slowly moved to starboard swinging back just forward of my original position after the dragging boat had passed. Almost timed it perfectly but had to fend off the bow of the other boat once to keep it off my stern.

I can honestly say that at no time, even during that horrendous week dealing with fuel issues, did I wish I was some where else. Tired, frustrated, pissed yes. But never "get me the hell off this boat". I put myself, my crew, and the MC in these positions and I had better be able to deal with them.
You live in the moment, do your best and learn.
Dan S/V Marian Claire
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Mo (09-11-2015)
  #7   IP: 24.138.22.213
Old 09-11-2015, 06:54 PM
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I figured this would be a decent thread and enjoy it...hope you guys do as well. I had a few episodes of concern as well, although technically more dangerous, my knowledge base and ability had improved and was able to deal with them. The incident is post #1 might have been what made me become a half decent sailor. I said after that..."that S__t is not happening again". Of course if we go out enough we experience much more and learn to deal with more.

-lightening splitting above my C&C 24...one rod going to an oil rig at the dock for repairs; the other going to a container ship heading in the harbour. Hair stood up on my head but never took the hit and was no worse for wear.

-45 kt storm came up in 2009 when I was soloing to Newfoundland...weather called for 20 kts...spent 4 hours in that on the jib and literally surfed Odyssey into Liscombe NS. Was so sore that it took 2 days to recover.

-heading out the harbor and drove into a blow. Waves off the ocean were coming into the shallows and rising up. I had to continue on out about 8 miles and turned the boat once I was in deeper water....Odyssey was launching off some of those on the way out and a few times she came off and slammed down so hard I thought the mast would keep going...surfed it home again then.

Some of you guys know I don't mind sailing in moderate to heavy air at times. I did a few videos of stuff but have none of the really bad stuff...the reason for that is I was doing all I could to keep myself positioned and run the boat...cameras only come out once we get grip on the situation.LOL
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"Odyssey"
1976 C&C 30 MKI

The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The realist adjusts the sails.
...Sir William Arthur Ward.

Last edited by Mo; 09-11-2015 at 06:59 PM.
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  #8   IP: 24.152.132.65
Old 09-11-2015, 11:49 PM
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Here are a couple of mine from old threads:
http://www.moyermarineforum.com/foru...91&postcount=3 click on the thread title in the upper right corner for more discussion and pictures

and
http://www.moyermarineforum.com/foru...7&postcount=35
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1977 Catalina 30
San Pedro, California
prior boats 1987 Westsail 32, 1970 Catalina 22
Had my hands in a few others

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  #9   IP: 24.138.22.213
Old 09-12-2015, 06:45 AM
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Neil, I can relate to the one about the fog. I can hear the fog horn from my living room here this morning ... can't see the street 60 feet from the house. If there is one thing I really dislike sailing in it's fog. It deprives me of my senses, no terms of reference, tiredness soon follows. I usually don't even go play in it at all anymore, and if I'm out I find a spot to bring her in.

On the Newfoundland trip I had 7 days straight fog up the coast....and then back again. All I did was watch the radar and glance at the chartplotter now and then. Sometimes the sun would be shining through from about 100-150 feet above and the glare would be just crippling to the eyes. Every evening I head into a port, pick my way in using chartplotter and radar....easy, well not so easy when fighting to keep your eyes focused and all I wanted to do is be able to lay down and close them for 15 minutes.

Once inside a harbour typically drove out of the fog, anchor and sleep for an hour. Then get up and get something to eat and crash out a little after dark. Summer here gets dark around 9pm.... mornings wake up with fog all around again and I'd hope for a day without it...morning sun would start burning it off and I'd head out...around 11am the sea breeze would start and the fog, which receded 20 miles out would make it's way in. I'd spend another 6 hrs in it until my next stop. Also, typically when there is fog the winds are around 10-15 kts...so it makes for a slow rolling ride in the Atlantic swells...The best wind around here is a Northerly...any Northerly ...blows the fog out to sea, wind is off the land actually knocking down the seas...get 20 kts of that and you are making time. That didn't happen for me on that excursion but it sure would have made it less stressful and shorter.

PS: I never did make it to Newfoundland that summer. I'd talked to a ship ASL Sanderling on which I knew one of the mates. They run from NS to NL every week and he said there was nothing off Newfoundland only fog as well...and had been all summer. So after a week of hopping up the Nova Scotia coast I turned it around and came back to Halifax...fog all the way back too...and fog the rest of the summer. It was one of the worst sailing summers any of the old timers could remember.
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"Odyssey"
1976 C&C 30 MKI

The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The realist adjusts the sails.
...Sir William Arthur Ward.

Last edited by Mo; 09-12-2015 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 09-12-2015, 11:39 AM
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Yeah Mo, sometimes you don't need big conditions to be terrified. Hearing the modest swell breaking on the rocks of the breakwater, being completely blind without radar or GPS and knowing that's the direction you need to go to get home, that was pretty nerve wracking. Once we made the turn into a harbor opening we believed was there we were fully committed. And of course the sounds at night are omnidirectional. All we had were a compass, a chart and our ears, no position fixing means of any kind.
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prior boats 1987 Westsail 32, 1970 Catalina 22
Had my hands in a few others

Last edited by ndutton; 09-12-2015 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 09-12-2015, 01:35 PM
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I am not sure where to start here. I have been worried, concerned, or anxious plenty of times. All out OMFG FRIGHT! is not as common. Here is one - it is not every day you see a waterspout headed for your raft-up!


Being offshore with worsening weather is a slow motion issue. You are considering options, plotting a course, analyzing weather. It is kind of like a chess match - will the front with 50 knots from the NW arrive before or after the Gulf Stream?
Adrenaline fueled do something RIGHT NOW issues are another deal. Going home from Saint Michael's we had about 15 knots of wind on the stern and at least 1 knot of current on the stern in the Narrows approaching a closed drawbridge when the engine died. I had about 5 seconds to come up with a plan to avoid hitting the closed bridge I ran forward and dropped the anchor, which streamed out behind us as we still made at least 4-5 knots SOG towards the closed bridge. Line streaming fast - wait for it - wait for it - NOW tie it off. The anchor dug in hard, we did an instant 180 degree turn and the wind pushed us right into the T-head dock near the bridge with our bow about 2 feet aft of someone's stern. I calmly stepped off, tied us up, and told an onlooker this was our new docking system and it appeared to work great Internally I was
* this was the end of that A4. My wife insisted it go to the surplus heap and we got a much better one.

Last edited by joe_db; 09-12-2015 at 01:46 PM.
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