SeaKnots

HELP SAVE OTHERS, By sharing tales of YOUR DUMB MISTAKES

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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a good handle on things .... yes / no. In such situations you have to be creative after you have washed away you fear with a beer. The most complicated was that it happened on an easter Sunday where normal people staying with there families .... so no one on the Radio in the marina.

An other problem that I had the season before was that my mainsail was blocked in the mast when I wanted to roll it in because the wind became a bit stronger ( 30kn ). Also in this situation you have to stay calm and become creative. I rolled the sail around the mast ( not so easy with waves and wind ),fixed it and sailed home with the Genua. The next day, I went in the mast and solved the problem.

Panic is your death when you have a problem on board.
We were doing a delivery of a 34' to the Annapolis Show and day two it got rather windy with lumpy seas. Decided it was time to reef the main which was a roller furler. Much to my delight as soon as it started to roll up the bottom 12" would bunch up and refuse to roll into the mast. Rolled up the genny instead and ran under main alone and then main and motor to maintain some control as we were clearly over canvased. I tried everything I could to get it to furl without luck. Finally knowing we were getting close to our destination and knowing I had to do something I went up on the foredeck to figure out a solution. It was then that I noticed a small amount of slack in the main halyard. At that point I went about getting the slack out of it. No small job in 25+ knot winds and a flogging main. Basically had a foot against the side of the cabin and cranked with everything I had. Finally got it tightened and furled. Never worked so hard that day. There's always something isn't there?
all sailors worth their salt run aground at some time or another---i did it in a very easy and not witnessed manner in dago bay in crown cove a long time ago when folks were still allowed to anchor in there---i ran up on the island in the center of the cove after working the depth sounder to three dashes instead of numbers by scraping the bottom growth of of it on the 3 foot shoal more north of the cove----a friend was in the cove already and took me off with his dinghy---was all so simple and easy to handle---but i found the answer to sailing dago bay is use of depth sounder====there are so many places to ground a sailing boat.....just wait it out and the water comes back ----at the moment if grounding all seems impossible but it gets actually to be fun---do the bottom scraping, maybe paint if you have it......check the underside of the boat for anything might be wrong.....fix whatever------it all works out well in the long run.....i watch the ones who donot sail with depth sounder in dago bay and they get stuck in all kinds of places.......this is a shallow bay needing constant dredging--only the main channel is constantly dredged---for the navy..the rest can and most times is only 2-5 feet deep, and the shoals change constantly--is probably why the folks from north bay donot sasil down into the south bay very much---......
Running aground in the Chesapeake isn't so bad, as for the most part, it's a muddy bottom. You just gotta get yourself out of it before the mud gets a good grip on the bottom of the keel. The bay is shallow enough that you have to keep an eye on the depth sounder or you'll get surprised now and then.
dont commit to a shakedown (of you moreso the boat) at night. it was pitch black in the canyons of Lake Travis where I learned how NOT to sail
Thanks to all who added comments. I have been a member of Seaknots for some time, but being "basically shy" , was reluctant to get on line...Once in however it has been fun.
Today it is 20 some degrees and snowing here in southeast Iowa, the river is hard and I must leave to go to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for four weeks. I am uncertian as to computer availabilty there, but will try to stay in touch.. Which brings up my next mistake... Don't leave Iowa in the winter and go to a warm clilmate. You will never be the Same Again... Gary
Gary what will suck is returning to Iowa in 4 weeks. Have a good trip.
My dumbest mistake? Those of you who read my account of Paloma's battle with the March 08, Force 10 storm in the Gulf of Mexico will remember mine. When we first got hit by the storm (moving at 35 miles per hour, packing internal winds of 50-60 mph) and were knocked down, we lost the bitter end of a jib sheet over board that tangled in the prop and left us with no engine and left us running before the storm for 36 hours. What we should have done - and you must do, if you haven't - is simply tie a knot in the end of your sheets so they can't run out through the block. Simple solution? Of course, all big screw ups are generally based on something simple. Simple is like the rigger left a cotter pin out of an upper shroud and the pin came out, loosing the upper shroud - simple, but could have been disasterous.
John, thanks for your two cents.. I might add that I was out yesterday, with a friend who pointed out to me that the stopper knot should be about one foot from the end of the sheet, in case it gets jammed, you still have enough to pull the jam back out.....one more little pearl of wisdom that might come in handy someday. Gary
Good idea! Thanks...I only have a couple of inches at end as a rule.
creativity is after the shorts are checked, the boat checked , the crew roll call done and .....i wasnt on board when my ericsons main blew--was only 25ts-30kts wind..and sail was only original--1979???? wow----so --have a hotline to used sails is us before going out....after replacing old sails--but it worked the time before without a problem....that boat flies....8 kts under jib alone that day with a 15 kt steady breeze...after blowing out the main..........yes--easier to grab before snagging and sticking, also, when the knot is about 12-18" from end of sheet.......
Anyone ever do Adams creek out of Oriental NC? Bringing the boat down to her new slip in SC, My captain friend went aground, and after Boat tow, all in all added another expense..a redesigned expensive Stuffing box.

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