After reading the blog, "Marooned" by Bob Manning, and taking note of deploying the swim ladder upon anchoring, I was reminded of a article that I used to read in Flying Magazine, in my other life as a flight instructor, called "I learned about flying from that", Along that line, I will share one of my mistakes that may save someone else money.
I was returning to Iowa in a sailboat that I had purchased in Chestertown, Md, We were motor sailing up the Detroit River, wing on wing, with gusty wind almost directlly aft. Both the main and jib were full out and I had a stopper on the main, which ment it would take some distance to get stopped or turn around.
I noticed that we were being overtaken by a large tanker and in order to give him as much room as possible, I opted to go to the outside of the channel marker, It appeared as if there were miles of water in that direction and that tanker looked so big.....Very soon I could see a sand bar between me and the channel , by the time it took to start a U turn we were aground.. In Canada, I determined later, After trying unsucessfully to motor back off, I put in a call to the Coast Guard for an assist..
They are very helpful, but after determing that I was in no immedate danger they put out a call for anyone to assist me. TOW BOAT US, answered my call and while waiting for them I notice that the waves, which were about three feet high were hitting the port side of the boat and had apparently washed the sand out from under the boat and it was slowley moving back towards the channel. Brainstorm...Fire up the engine and help. A short burst of throttle and the boat moved forward about ten feet an promptly fell off on the port side with the waves nearly coming over the rail.
Everything, on the starboard side of the cabin, pots,pans suitcases,books, fell to the sole with a large clatter. At that point, I looked up to see another large ship passing up the river leaving at least a four to five foot wake ,Looked Really Big, Waves heading right for our port side. As soon as the first wave hit it came right into the cockpit, but partially uprighted the boat which was then hit by the second wave which knocked the boat to full starboard side down, Everthing stored on the port side the clattered to the sole. The next wave hit and the boat righted itself. I quietly shut the engine down and waited for the tow boat.
Lessons Learned. #1. Never sail on the wrong side of a channel marker, #2, If you are going to go aground, Buy the Towboat US insurance ahead of time. My tow only came to $550.00, But they are equiped to take your credit card. I hope someone will learn from my big mistake.

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Indeed, 45 minutes into our first trip on "Now or Never" we were hard aground just north of Beaufort on Adams (Core) creek. But running aground is just a fact of life. You do it. Other problems are different. We were tied up at a dock at Mayport, FL on the St John's. Like so many locations on the ICW, especially near inlets, there is a tremendous current. So, we're ready to leave the dock and we're on an inside fairway. that means we have to back out a certain distance before clear of the dock and, incidentally, other boats.
We "kick the tires and light the fires." We know we're bucking a current. So, give it some throttle and we go nowhere. "Wow," I say, "some current." Give it some more throttle and we keep moving forward toward the dock. "Holy $#&@, what is going on? I've never seen such a current!" More throttle. At the last second, I realize that I am in forward gear! Wham! The result was a huge ding in the bow. Now that's a stupid mistake!
Agree on having towing insurance before hand...i had mine before boat hit the Also from experience on another boat... If you're going to get hit by a squall..make sure all sheets and halyards secured well. They can be blown off cleat on the mast very easily and get blown overboard and foul the prop. Also know what to do beforehand if your jib halyard somehow jams as wind is kicking up. And remember to close all ports once underway if on a passage..or if hot as hell and calm seas...have it on the "list" of things to do if things start to get "sporty"
A list of things to do while underway would be helpful to many.
I trailored my daysailor to th lake and had forgot th sails, and it was race day -oops.
If at first you don't get it right, Try, Try, Again..
Last summer I pulled into Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Ms. Officially the marina is closed, and there are no services available, but is behind a breakwater and docks are in pretty good shape. Weather was a little bit snotty and I wanted to go into the casino to eat. Most of the time the harbormaster will allow you to tie up for the night. So I pull in alongside the dock, the wind is blowing the boat away from the dock and towards the breakwater. I stop the boat a foot from the dock, exactly where I want it, kinda proud of myself, and of course looking around to see if anyone has observed how good I really am. Of course no one is around to see me demonstrate my exceptional skills. I step off the boat, onto the dock, with the dock line in hand. Keep in mind now that this is in early spring, wind is blowing away from the dock, and the water temp is in the 50's. I step onto the dock, line in hand to tie the boat off. Since I have a pretty good breeze to counter act, I rear back on the dock line to pull the boat up snug. The following things happen almost instantly. I rear back on the dock line, notice it is snagged on a cowl vent. My thought process is damn line is snagged, and next is damn this water is cold. The line of course slid off the vent as soon as I gave it a good pull. The dock is about three feet wide, and I went off the opposite side, fully clothed including deck shoes and a fairly heavy jacket, pockets full, cell phone clipped to belt. When I hit the water still had the dock line in my hand. It's about three feet up to the dock, and I can't let go of the line, or the boat is going to drift off into the bulkhead. No problem, I'll just shinny up the piling and get back on the dock. WRONG The piling is wet, and slick, and as soon as my feet get to the top of the barnacles on the piling, all upward movement is stopped. Keep in mind that I am 70 yo, have some back problems, and not a lot of upper body strength. Now of course, the same situation exists. No one to see my nifty docking skills, and no one to assist me in getting out of the water. As high as I can get is my arms on the dock, but cannot get any higher. Next idea, tie the boat off, swim under the dock, and get back aboard using the swim ladder. So, I manage to get the boat tied off. drop down and swim under the dock to the swim ladder. OOOPS I had it tied up, so I could use it as a back rest. Scratch that idea. I had been towing the dink, so that is the next idea. Climb into the dink and then get back aboard. By now I have been in the water for maybe ten minutes, and am COLD. What strength I had is rapidly going away due to the cold. Here comes the funny part. For some reason, I could not force myself to let go of the boat. So, I have one arm extended to the rail. and can't make myself let go, even though I know I have to. OF course the dink just keeps moving away. The best I can do is get my legs in, but without letting go of the boat, thats as far as I can get. The final idea finally seeps into my mind, which is basically thinking cold. I take the the painter for the dink, wrap it around a cleat to shorten it up, and then using it like a step, manage to finally get myself back on board. I was in the water a total of twenty minutes or more, and totally frozen. But as they say, all's well that ends well. I stripped off, dried off, warmed up, and went into the casino to the buffett.
Thanks for sharing..quite the experience
Thank you for sharing your story Phil. I have found there is one sure fire way to prevent incidents like these from happening to you. My boat is safely on the hard, the river is frozen over, and I have been spending my time in the house near my computer since last October reading about and thinking about sailing while waiting for Spring. There has not been one memorable interesting thing happen to me all winter. Can't wait till April to get out and make more mistakes.
Phil, great story,too bad it was really happening, take care and stay dry,Pat
OMG What a guess I better learn to swim or put on the PFD before I drive to boat. Good story...glad you didn't freeze to death!
It's funny how many of these stories begin with, "I reared back on the dockline..." like Phil's impromtu swim at the marina. That;'s exactly how my troubles began 25 years ago when crewing for my neophyte sailing buddy aboard his Coronado 41, named The GD Boat. Doug's diesel would not idle without stalling, so marina manuevers tended tended to be intense experiences as he always carried lots of RPM's and shifted without throttling down. So I was preparing for the worst as we entered his slip at speed. I jumped down to the dock, spring line in hand, passed it around the piling at the end of the dock finger, and "reared back" to check the boat speed. Murphy's busy little fingers meanwhile had slipped the eye of the dock line off the boat cleat and I met no resistance on the spring line as my powerful leg muscles launched me into the middle of his slip. All eyes on the boat were forward at this moment judging whether the boat would stop or climb the dock as the engined roared under wide open throttle and the prop thrashed the water in reverse. With the forepeak hanging over the dock and the stem inches from collision, the forward momentum was finally arrested and the boat began backing down, increasing speed rapidly. My waterlogged leather jacket weighed a ton and most of my swimming strokes wre downward to keep my head above water. This allowed me a front row view of the 18 inch cuisinart rapidly bearing down on my torso. As it was too close to risk my hands in front of me to scull backwards and there was no time to turn around, i furiously sculled with my arms streched out to the sides and kicked to try and back away from my doom. With only a foot of clearance now between me and eternity and with a loud bang of the tortured transmission the prop went to forward thrust for a moment, checked the aft progress of the boat, then went still as it was shifted to nuetral. Moments later the engine also went still and I realized I would live to see another sunrise. As Ernest K. Gann once observed, where is the man who survives without luck?
Not me, but funny and something to be learned... Too drunk to find my dinghy
Anyone who has sailed the BVIs will know of the Willie T in the Bight at Norman Island. It's an institution. The Wiliam Thormton aka Willie T is a 98' schooner converted into a two deck floating bar.
As I was sitting on the train coming home yesterday a smile slipped across my face as I recalled one of the funnest evenings of my life about 10 years ago spent at the Willie T.
My wife (not her in the pic. This is a random pic to protect the innocent) and I were in the Caribbean for the first time and at the end of a Learn-to-bareboat course with Steve Colgate's Offshore Sailing School (Offcourse as my wife calls it). It was an excellent week under the supervision of central casting charter skipper, Capt Tom. Tom was a gruff divorcee from Florida who looked a bit like a pint-sized Magnum PI with a beer gut fueled on Mount Gay and Ginger

There were two boats in the course: My wife and I on one boat with a jolly single lady from Connecticut. The other boat was a mixed bag: A couple who looked like Meg Ryan and Harrison Ford but were dull as crap and spent most of the time locked in their V-berth; a Canadian nurse and a plonker who thought he knew more than the instructors. We named him Captain Giblet Bag as he spent most of the day in a Speedo swim suit that looked like..well pull the giblet bag out of a roast chicken and the name fit.

On our last day and night we were cut loose from the skipper and sent off sans-instructor from Roadtwon to Norman Island. It's a relatively short simple sail to the Bight. It's a big easy anchorage with the prospect of snorkelling the famous caves (apparently the inspiration for treasure island) and last but not least fun at the Willie T's.

Our boat got to a nice anchorage early and we smugly watched the other course boat come in and get tangled up for an hour as Captain Gibblet Bag managed to get the anchor chain wrapped around the keel. Plonker! God knows how he managed it. We barbecued onboard and decided to hit the Willie T at about 8:30 as things were starting to liven up.
The folks from the other boat went to bed early. My wife and our crewmate stayed on and boy am I glad we did. What a party! The best drinks, the best music and best dancing I can remember.
By about 12 things were getting interesting. Not-unattractive naked young ladies were leaping off the top deck into the water. A guy who looked like a pirate was doing tequila shots (lick the salt, drink the shot and bite the lemon) off a naked girl lying on the bar as his somewhat peeved wife looked on.
By about 2 we were fading and so I went in search of our dinghy (Easy Tman - motor not sailing kind). When we arrived at 8:30 there were 6-8 dinghies. By now there were about 50 and about half were identical white fiberglass dinghies like ours all belonging to the Moorings. Suffice to say I couldn't single out mine and I couldn't remember at which end of the dock I had tied it off. I was very tired and emotional you see. After about 15 minutes of looking I figured that our dinghy had quite obviously been stolen.
I went back to the bar, always the sensible solution, and got chatting to a local charter skipper from the Moorings:
"Don't worry Mon", he advised me. "This happens a lot. Take any of the Moorings dinghies. No one can tell the difference and they all end up back at the Mooorings base eventually".
At 2 in the morning and in my state of inebriation this all made perfect sense. And he was wearing a captain's hat so he must have known what he was talking about.

The problem was how to pull something like this off discreetly. Obviously just strolling over and taking a dinghy wasn't the way you did this. No, the way you did this was pirate style!

I jumped off the top deck on the opposite side from the dock about as subtly as a brick. I then swam all the way round the Willie T to dinghy dock. By this time most of the bar was watching me if only out of curiosity. There were bets on whether the fat barracuda that lived under the Wille T was going to get me.
I hauled myself into the first available Moorings dinghy from the stern and got the engine going. I got my wife and crew mate into the dinghy and told them to cast off. Two problems:
Problem #1: the owners of the dinghy clearly knew the drill better than we did and had tied a knot that I couldn't have untied sober let alone in my current state. It was some kind of double sheepshaggger with an overhead latte cam twist.
Problem #2; the owners showed up.
I looked up to see a very kindly 65+ year old American lady, her husband and four other cotton-topped friends staring pityingly at us from the dock.
"I am sorry but I think you may be in the wrong dinghy" said the kindly 65+ year old American lady.
"Oh really" said I innocently. "Ah so it is. Bless me. Don't they all look the same. ha ha."
We shuffled off back to the bar trying to ignore the howls of laughter pointed at us and persuaded the Moorings Captain to give us a lift back to our boat.
The next morning I woke none too sprightly. Tongue like the bottom of a parrot's cage; bloodshot eyes and a very sore head. I looked blearily across the Bight towards the Willie T. Low and behold was one lone white fiberglass Moorings dinghy tied up to the dock.

Wasn't it nice of someone to bring it back?


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