"hellfire" Marie

Why I will never go sailing again

20 posts in this topic

So as I have stated before on this pub my husband and I recently bought our first sailboat. It took us about two months of hassling with the guy who sold it to us to get the title and registration from him, and so when the legal stuff was finally taken care of we were anxious to get her on the water. Neither of us have much sailing experience. We have taken a couple classes, but that it is. A lack of patience will most likely be our downfall.

So we get her ready and take her out on a nearby lake that doesn't have much traffic. Well the moment she touches the water the wind picks up. It's blowing pretty hard all of the sudden and we decide to end back to the dock to wait it out. So we tack and turn the rudder, but we keep moving in the direction of the current which is the opposite way we want to go.

Then I notice a group of dead trees sticking out of the water are getting closer FAST. No matter what we do the boat will not respond. We try dropping sail and rowing, but in vane. We hit the trees!

Well this is enough to have me freaking. The weather is getting worse and it is beginning to rain and thunder. Then we notice a leak in the centerboard trunk. We push off the trees, but still seem to be at the mercy of the current.

We are moving fast again. Though, instead of trees, this time we are heading towards a rocky shore line. We raise sail again and tack. The sail rips! Now I am really freaking and the rocks are within feet of us. I use my ore to push against the rocks so we don't hit them too hard, but hitting them is inevitable. We jump out and tie the boat to a couple of trees so that she will do the least swaying into the rocks as possible.

Next we hike the mile to the nearest boat dock to find a motor boat to tow us back. While hiking I twist my ankle and break my sandal. My husband goes to find a motor boat while I use a pay phone to call for help just incase he doesn't find anyone.

So about an hour later, we have our boat and her 60 gallons of water that leaked in out of the lake. We are soaking wet and muddy. I am using rubber bands to keep my shoe on and limping. It just wasn't a pretty sight for our first time in our new boat.

So now you may be asking yourselves, are they really that bad at sailing? Yes and no. We had checked the weather for that day and it was supposed to be a beautiful day with 8mph wind-we were experiencing about 18mph with gusts up to 25. The reason we could not get control of the boat is because the centerboard was apparently stuck and will not come out of the trunk. If anyone has any ideas what to do about that, PLEASE say so. Maybe I will try sailing again, but it won't be any time soon. Obviously I wouldn't make a good pirate, a great highwaywoman though. I can ride a horse.

Ok I am done complaining now.

B)

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Sorry, I don't know much about sailing, so I can't help ye.

Sounds like a traumatic experience!

Ouch, how painful. B)

Ah well, ye couldn't have known. But if'n ye decide to go sailing again, I'd suggest go somewhere else. (Of course!)

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Look at it this way...now you've gotten many bad experiences over with and learned a lot about your boat...so from here it should get better. Plus you now know that carrying a cell phone when taking your boat out is probably a good idea.

Bad experiences can either become depressing ends or learning opportunities. You get to choose which.

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Bad experiences can either become depressing ends or learning opportunities. You get to choose which.

Besides, such daring adventures provide facinating topics of conversation at otherwise boring cocktail parties where people discuss their jobs, their mortgages, and their kids' sports teams.

Did I ever tell you about the time we were on a wilderness canoe trip, camped on the shore of an isolated northern lake, and a series of tornadoes ripped through the area that night, downing trees and sending our canoe flying off to Kansas (well, the other end of the lake, actually)...

It was scary and uncomfortable to live through, but very exciting in retrospect.

Get back on the boat, Marie! [Or else sell it to me, cheap.]

Cheers, Hester

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You guys are so encouraging. Thanks. I probably will give it another try. I am not the type who gives up that easily. Just needed to vent.

You see not a single thing has gone right with this boat. Tis cursed I say. When we picked her up three states away, we blew a tire on the trailer on the way home. It was like 2 in the morning and nothing was open aside from a super Wal-Mart that was over an hour away in the other direction. So an nine hour drive took 13 hours. Plus there have been other things that have gone wrong with her. A piece will break and need repaired or something will go missing. That kind of thing.

But no doubt, once we are done fixing her up, she will be beautiful and worth the effort. Thanks again for your encouragement.

:lol:

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That's the kind of thing that would make me say "That was fun; let's do it again!" But I'm a bit morbid. :lol:

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Tis cursed I say.

Change her luck with a blessing ritual! These ceremonies have been practiced by mariners all over the world since time immemorial.

Here's a traditional Gaelic Christian boat blessing prayer:

http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaidhlig/corpus/C...rmina/B118.html

Here's a page that shows a Buddhist blessing ceremony for a modern dragonboat crewed by Australian breast-cancer survivors:

http://www.abc.net.au/tropic/stories/s1619304.htm

Here's the festival that blesses the shrimp fleet on the Mississipi:

http://www.mlc.lib.ms.us/ServicesToGeneral...goftheFleet.htm

In the Mediterranean, fishing boats are painted with designs to ward off the "evil eye". Viking ships were also highly decorated with carvings and painting, and many of the designs are believed to be symbols of protection or courage.

So, banish that bad karma with pomp and circumstance! Paint some protective symbols on your ship, or nail your favourite lucky charm to her mast. Perhaps you could even rename and relaunch her after you complete some of the more practical repairs that seem necessary.

Good luck! [And I mean that literally.]

Cheers, Hester

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Sorry to hear about your mishap Marie. I as well have started sailing this summer and have had a few misques, none as bad as yours sounds though. As for the future you should have a small motor on there so when things go south quickly you can drop sail and motor in. Also an anchor is good to have with ya as well. At any rate "Get back out there", once ya work out all the bugs sailing 'tis a fun past time. Check out my profile for my home page, it is all about my daughter and I's first few adventures out in the bay.

Fair winds!

boat.gif

~Wil

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Next to sinking or drownin ye can't have it for any more the worst and so i thinks the worst is over. Ifen ye go again you are now armed with a valuable experience in being prepared to expect anything to happen. Hmmmm. New boat... New environment... and the weather man is nearly always wrong! = possible problems...

A suggestion ... If Eyes had a situation as yours I think I would want someone who is a sailor to show me the ropes in person. Perhaps a few classes are not enough..

Bring yer Jack Sparrrow compass wit ye for good luck... :huh:

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QUOTE (Hester @ Posted on Sep 20 2006, 11:03 AM)

Change her luck with a blessing ritual!

Good idea Hester! I just might try that. Thanks

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As a sailor, I've been through quite a few 'mishaps' as well. It comes with the territory. From being dismasted (which really sucks, btw), to going aground 4 times on three different sailboats (various boats and circumstances...I wasn't driving for any of them and there was no major damage), to blowing out numerous sails. At least in all my experience, none of the crew were seriously injured, though part of that was luck when our J-35 mast went by the board. A lot of problems can be solved by proper planning and preparedness. I'll point out some things from your own story to prove a point. This is meant as helpful criticism, so learn from it.

First, some things you did right:

-You took a class to learn how to sail. This is great, though when you are done, you should still realize that you're a beginner (which it sounds like you did).

-You checked the weather forecast. Many people who get in trouble go out when it's a great day, but crappy weather is expected to move in. In your case, it was unexpected, which happens.

-You went to a lake without much traffic. This could be good or bad. Good in the sense that there's fewer people to worry about hitting, generally more room to maneuver, etc. Bad in that there's also fewer people to help if they see you in distress.

-You assessed the situation and made a judgement call to return to the dock when the conditions were worsening. This was still before it became an 'emergency' situation.

-You saw and responded to two seperate emergencies: first the trees and then the rocks. From what it sounds like, the boat made it back with minimal damage (although I'd really check out that leak in the centerboard trunk). A sail can rip at any time. Sometimes it just less conveniant than others. You used the oar to minimize the impact.

-You had a backup means of propulsion. Sure, a motor is nice and easier, but not absolutely necessary. Sometimes people forget that the wind can die completely and are stuck out there. When there's too much wind, oars aren't generally that useful.

OK, now a couple of bad things:

-You went out without much experience. I don't know the extent of training you got at the class, and they vary greatly, so I'll just assume that you got the basics of sailing. Not necessarily basics of good seamanship. Also, usually classes use their own boats for training, so familiarization with your own boat doesn't happen.

-You weren't familiar with your boat. It was brand new, had a centerboard that stuck (quite a major problem)

-You began by going down wind (whether or not it was intentional). In general, it's a lot easier to go downwind than up wind, and if something goes wrong, especially beginners trying a new boat, it's generally better to drift back to, or at least by the dock where you can try to signal someone on shore. Obviously, this is general and depends greatly on the geography.

-Lack some gear. It's good to have safety gear onboard such as flares, an anchor, a sea anchor or drogue, an extra sail (usually more for bigger vessels), etc. Though it wasn't mentioned, I'm assuming you had the common sense to wear, or at least have available, lifejackets.

-Too hasty to get the boat in the water and go sailing. This, by your own admission, may have been the biggest mistake. Take the time to go over your boat, get familiar with it, and make sure everything works. Chances are, everything onboard has some sort of useful purpose. If you don't know what it's for, how it works, or even what it is, ASK SOMEONE!!! Check not only to see if it works, but also that it's in good repair. An old sail or frayed line can turn into a nightmare. It doesn't mean you need to throw these things out, as they have their purpose, but it's something you should be aware of. Never use old rope as the major lines (i.e. haliard, sheets, downhaul/furling line, or any other line that gets used often or is vital to the operation of YOUR boat).

Other things to think about:

-It's a good idea to file a sailing plan with a friend, relative, neighbor, coworker, etc. so that if you don't return and check in by a certain time, they can worry and call in help for you. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK IN WITH THEM WHEN YOU RETURN! Also, make sure they know where you went, and what your boat looks like.

-Cell phone...good and bad. Up here in Alaska, they usually don't work too far from a town. There are always areas of bad reception, so it's not good to rely on them for an emergency. It's not a bad idea to have one, though. Make sure it's in a waterproof container and will float!!!

-Have a radio. A radio can come in very handy when calling for help, especially to other boaters.

-Try finding someone knowledgeable that will go out with you on your boat, or at least look over your boat with you and explain what everything is and what it's for.

-Sometimes, things just happen. Do whatever you can to protect 1) your safety, 2) safety of others, 3) safety of the boat. Usually, if you protect the safety of the boat, the other two fall in line. When things do happen, have a plan to fix them. Constantly think about and talk with your crew about what you would do if ____ happens (just about anything can go wrong, just fill in the blank). In the Coast Guard, we run drills all the time. We require most commercial vessels to run drills as well. You don't need to make it too formal, but practice in picking up a Type IV floataion device, or an EXTRA life jacket is good. Not only is it good to be familiar with what to do in case of a man overboard, it helps you get better at handling the boat and can be a lot of fun.

-Prevention is always the best remody. In our Commanding Officer's standing orders he states that "seamanship is the ability to stay out of a situation that needs it". Adding to that, as I said earlier, sometimes things just happen.

Overall, it sounds like you didn't really enjoy it, but have one heck of a sea story as a beginner. Get back out there. Lots of things will come with experience. You don't need to get far from the dock many times to just get familiar with the boat, tack it, practice a man overboard (hint, once you get a little better, one of you should be the 'man overboard' and just sit back and stay out of the way-don't actually jump overboard). Even with all the nasty storms, dangerous situations, large waves, high winds, lost sails, lost gear, etc., I still go sailing. However, after each bit of new experience, even the nice days that go as perfect as they ever can, I learn something new that can help me the next time.

Fair Winds,

Coastie ;)

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I can Highly Recomend this Book as the Best Primer on Sailing ever written. It is only 62 pages. The Author illustrated and hand printed it. He avoided anything beyond the most basics for beginning to sail.

"THE CRAFT OF SAIL" by Ian Adkins. you can find it on line at Wooden Boat Magazine's Wooden Boat Store.

When I taught sailing in the 70s the students had to study the Red Cross Book for their classroom and test. However, to actually understand sailing and practice its basics, we used this book.

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As a sailor, I've been through quite a few 'mishaps' as well. It comes with the territory. From being dismasted (which really sucks, btw), to going aground 4 times on three different sailboats (various boats and circumstances...I wasn't driving for any of them and there was no major damage), to blowing out numerous sails. At least in all my experience, none of the crew were seriously injured, though part of that was luck when our J-35 mast went by the board. A lot of problems can be solved by proper planning and preparedness. I'll point out some things from your own story to prove a point. This is meant as helpful criticism, so learn from it.

First, some things you did right:

-You took a class to learn how to sail. This is great, though when you are done, you should still realize that you're a beginner (which it sounds like you did).

-You checked the weather forecast. Many people who get in trouble go out when it's a great day, but crappy weather is expected to move in. In your case, it was unexpected, which happens.

-You went to a lake without much traffic. This could be good or bad. Good in the sense that there's fewer people to worry about hitting, generally more room to maneuver, etc. Bad in that there's also fewer people to help if they see you in distress.

-You assessed the situation and made a judgement call to return to the dock when the conditions were worsening. This was still before it became an 'emergency' situation.

-You saw and responded to two seperate emergencies: first the trees and then the rocks. From what it sounds like, the boat made it back with minimal damage (although I'd really check out that leak in the centerboard trunk). A sail can rip at any time. Sometimes it just less conveniant than others. You used the oar to minimize the impact.

-You had a backup means of propulsion. Sure, a motor is nice and easier, but not absolutely necessary. Sometimes people forget that the wind can die completely and are stuck out there. When there's too much wind, oars aren't generally that useful.

OK, now a couple of bad things:

-You went out without much experience. I don't know the extent of training you got at the class, and they vary greatly, so I'll just assume that you got the basics of sailing. Not necessarily basics of good seamanship. Also, usually classes use their own boats for training, so familiarization with your own boat doesn't happen.

-You weren't familiar with your boat. It was brand new, had a centerboard that stuck (quite a major problem)

-You began by going down wind (whether or not it was intentional). In general, it's a lot easier to go downwind than up wind, and if something goes wrong, especially beginners trying a new boat, it's generally better to drift back to, or at least by the dock where you can try to signal someone on shore. Obviously, this is general and depends greatly on the geography.

-Lack some gear. It's good to have safety gear onboard such as flares, an anchor, a sea anchor or drogue, an extra sail (usually more for bigger vessels), etc. Though it wasn't mentioned, I'm assuming you had the common sense to wear, or at least have available, lifejackets.

-Too hasty to get the boat in the water and go sailing. This, by your own admission, may have been the biggest mistake. Take the time to go over your boat, get familiar with it, and make sure everything works. Chances are, everything onboard has some sort of useful purpose. If you don't know what it's for, how it works, or even what it is, ASK SOMEONE!!! Check not only to see if it works, but also that it's in good repair. An old sail or frayed line can turn into a nightmare. It doesn't mean you need to throw these things out, as they have their purpose, but it's something you should be aware of. Never use old rope as the major lines (i.e. haliard, sheets, downhaul/furling line, or any other line that gets used often or is vital to the operation of YOUR boat).

Other things to think about:

-It's a good idea to file a sailing plan with a friend, relative, neighbor, coworker, etc. so that if you don't return and check in by a certain time, they can worry and call in help for you. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK IN WITH THEM WHEN YOU RETURN! Also, make sure they know where you went, and what your boat looks like.

-Cell phone...good and bad. Up here in Alaska, they usually don't work too far from a town. There are always areas of bad reception, so it's not good to rely on them for an emergency. It's not a bad idea to have one, though. Make sure it's in a waterproof container and will float!!!

-Have a radio. A radio can come in very handy when calling for help, especially to other boaters.

-Try finding someone knowledgeable that will go out with you on your boat, or at least look over your boat with you and explain what everything is and what it's for.

-Sometimes, things just happen. Do whatever you can to protect 1) your safety, 2) safety of others, 3) safety of the boat. Usually, if you protect the safety of the boat, the other two fall in line. When things do happen, have a plan to fix them. Constantly think about and talk with your crew about what you would do if ____ happens (just about anything can go wrong, just fill in the blank). In the Coast Guard, we run drills all the time. We require most commercial vessels to run drills as well. You don't need to make it too formal, but practice in picking up a Type IV floataion device, or an EXTRA life jacket is good. Not only is it good to be familiar with what to do in case of a man overboard, it helps you get better at handling the boat and can be a lot of fun.

-Prevention is always the best remody. In our Commanding Officer's standing orders he states that "seamanship is the ability to stay out of a situation that needs it". Adding to that, as I said earlier, sometimes things just happen.

Overall, it sounds like you didn't really enjoy it, but have one heck of a sea story as a beginner. Get back out there. Lots of things will come with experience. You don't need to get far from the dock many times to just get familiar with the boat, tack it, practice a man overboard (hint, once you get a little better, one of you should be the 'man overboard' and just sit back and stay out of the way-don't actually jump overboard). Even with all the nasty storms, dangerous situations, large waves, high winds, lost sails, lost gear, etc., I still go sailing. However, after each bit of new experience, even the nice days that go as perfect as they ever can, I learn something new that can help me the next time.

Fair Winds,

Coastie :P

Most of that safety equipment is required - things like life jackets, distress signals, and an anchor. I have a big duffel with these that I always throw in my boat. I usually point this out and ask if anyone wants to wear a lifejacket (my wife often does).

For a small boat, I consider a paddle and/or oars important. For a larger boat, you need a motor. Either way, you have to have some means of maneuvering if you get into trouble.

Not that I count as anything more than a beginner, also.

Mark

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Yurrr, Marie, all th' good advice has a'ready been gi'ye by those salty seadogs above, so all I can do is gi' ye me own sad story tae gi' ye a smile.....yer not alone! wink.gif

Now Ive been sailin' smallcraft since weaned, but am long aground here in sunny dry L.A. California. So when me best mate (we will call him 'Weasel'...its his self-given nickname rolleyes.gif ) went back ta visit me folks in florida, I was rarin' ta' get out on th' water in me old Sunfish.

Now, if any o' ye dont ken 'Sunfish', its a lugsail flyer what looks like a big surfboard wi' a rudder, an a tiny footwell towards th' stern. About as small as a sailboat can get, except them sailboard jobbies.

Me weaselous friend professed willingness, but only after much coaxin', an' glowin' reports by me of th' serene joys o' such activity....., so somewhat after dawn o' th' 2nd day, th' wind bein' about 5 knots an' th' sun to be bright all day, we convened in th' shelter o' our canal fer a lesson afore venturin' out. He SEEMED ta' take to it like a mariner born, an as he is a fair bit smarter nor me I thought it all good. Sad illusion, an' overconfidence all 'round, 'twas! ohmy.gifwink.gif After a couple hours o' tackin', raisin' an lowerin th' centerboard, (Th' only job I were thinkin' ta require o' him that day), off we went out on th' calm Banana river lagoon.

All was good, 'till we entered th' boat-channel through th' sand-flats. Here comes a wind, a spankin' wind, such as was not forecasted. Straight in our faces it veered an blew, an' perforce I must tack out o' irons ta starboard! Th' channel not made fer sailin'... (a wee bit narrow, so ta speak), that means runnin' th' flats...not a problem in a craft as draws about six inches, righty? Oh, no! "Haul up th' daggerboard, weasel!" I yells. He dont move....Me ol' cully is frozen in fear! blink.gif Seems he was always too ashamed ta tell me of his caution o' deep water (I have since learned he dont swim very well, or gladly), an' ta do him justice this sudden emergency would'a flummoxed even hardy souls, if green ta' th' ways o' th' boat! So somehow I gets a spare hand on th' dagger, an' wi a heave up it comes about halfway. Hisssss! Goes th' daggertip in th' sand as we shoot out into 12 inches o' water. WHOOOM! goes th' sail as I swing her around before th' wind, and we lean over at a 60 degree angle, clingin' like limpets, Weasel still frozen ON TH" DOWNWIND SIDE blink.gif wi' his bum now in th' water an stingrays shootin' out in all directions for their meagre lives....fortunately I outweighs him by a hunnerd'n ten pounds or so, so we dont QUITE go over....whew! A then th' halliard, sunrotted an' strained past bearin, snaps. blink.gif I will never know just what crazy angle we attained, but sure an' thats th' closest IVE ever come ta' layin' her down unwilling, an at about 11 knots, an' in a stingray oysterbed, at that. Yaaaarrrhhhh, me shivers a'thinkin' of it yet. I'd'a landed on im, see.... ph34r.gif

Weasel ended up in me lap, th' sail crashed down on both o' us, an we ground ta a hault wi' th' dagger in th' sand. Sat there shakin' an' pretendin' ta jolly me buddy fer about 15 minutes, an' then began th' long, long, LONG paddle back ta th' canal against a 20 knot wind, with 1 little plastic kids paddle.... ended up haulin' her back by hand most o' th' way against th' oystery seawalls. Took about 31/2 hours ta go a half mile, an' Weasel said not a word ta me th' whole time....only time ta this day I think he was mad enough ta bite me head off an' chew me eyeballs...huh.gif

He sails a bit with his wife now, on her parents 22 footer, strictly as supercargo. We're still best mates. Never has offered ta go sunfishin wif me again though.......wonder why? rolleyes.gifbiggrin.giflaugh.gif

If'n HE got back on, I knows ye can too!

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The above is all very good advise, I'm sure, but what ye really need to do is remove the mast, mount a ram, find yeself some galley slaves, then back out onto the lake and terrorize the local fishermen...

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Ah, that was wonnerful, Bright. I speak fer no others, but ye have gi'en me much joy this morn, matey! biggrin.gif

.......I'm not sure those count as "words o' encouragement", though! blink.gifrolleyes.gif

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I was brought up in small boats... a long list from a 8' sailing dink to a 30' sloop... as well as partnering in a marina for 17 years.

You have not given us a make / model to look up & give better suggestions.

On the centerboard. Few centerboard trunks are open on the top to the board can be removed, cleaned & painted. Otherwise, find a way to get it up in the air. Jacks & blocks, tackle from the garage roof (outside Philly), a fork lift, a crane (S Dartmouth, Ma), a Travel lift (Wakefield RI). We routinely held a boat in the air long enough to drop the centerboard for painting. Or if you do it yourself, lift it with blocks & beams & put stands under it to stabilize it so it can be worked under.

It might be the c board tackle is jammed, too.

You must devolupe a system of protecting your gear from loss... replacing all cotter pins... trash bagging turnbuckles. Storing equipment together. It takes time & space to get organized.

If need to keep your trailer is good safe condition. We gained some very nice customers by helping them after they lost a trailer wheel. Boat, trailer & tow vehicle separated & were spread across a highway. It arrived at out yard with tow truck dollies under the trailer! A common failure is trailer wheel bearings, despite new fangled grease fittings.

One last thing to understand... sail boats are supposed to tip... within limits. If they don't tip, they don't go.

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