Dec 23, 2009

December 23rd, 2009

Yeah, I know I been bad and didnt write for many months....

But I did write today!

I spend much of my time reading and learning about sailing, since I fully plan to sail across an ocean before I die. This has been a life long dream, and I never cease to stop reading and learning more about what is involved with it. I can and will do this at some point and time.
Today I was reading differnent forums of other dreamers like me, and came across
a topic called: The Sailor's Confessional
Stories on things that went wrong while cruising. Such tales can sometimes be amusing, but more importantly, the rest of us can learn from them.

I decided to relay one of my worst sailing stories to this website. Hear it goes!


Years ago, after having quite a bit of sailing and ocean sailing experience, I bought a Cal 20, just for playing around in a smallish local lake. I got the Cal for 1000 bucks so I triumphantly brought her home. Only then did I look up her specifications on the Cal 20 owners website. Cal 20's should weigh a couple thousand pounds normally.

I found that the boat had been heavily altered, including chopping off her torpedo looking keel bulb (450 lbs)! There were also a few brilliant mods, like cockpit control of the halyards. I called the seller, and he called his uncle who originaly sold it to him. The Uncle, was an elderly Australian fellow who seemed to know about boats. He told me that he also chopped the mast off by a couple feet and had the sails resized inorder to keep the boat from being "tender". He also mentioned that he customized the boat to suit him, since he was a parapalegic and couldnt really walk.

Me and one of my friends took my 12 year old son and 3 of his little friends out to the local Texas lake to do Sea-trials. Needless to say that the days weather was quite stormy and the wind constantly picked up then dropped, then picked up again thoughout the entire day.

Once we got her rigged, and the mast up, we had many hours of fun running the little boat around the lake and back, mainly under a full main and a working jib. We had the Great Cal 20 Maxxed out the entire time.....

Unfortunately a huge Texas bunch of nimbo-cumulous monster clouds poked their aweful heads, above the late afternoon horizon. I noticed, but not enough of a notice.

I being the Captain, was having the greatest time with the boat, and was running her mainly at hull speed, but made the fateful decision to sail down the lake one more time, although the weather as deteriating, before heading toward shore.

After leaving a long cove, things were looking calm, so I ordered all sails totally up, for more speed, soon we sailed past a windward point, as soon as we were past the shelter of a grove of tall pines, the squall hit like a hammer!

The alleged "not tender" boat got promptly knocked down harshly on its port side, like a whore being slapped by an angry pimp! The Captain (me) was steering on the portside at the time, and got washed out of the cockpit by the rush of water coming over the coaming. This all happened in an instant! I GOT WASHED OUT OF MY FRICKING BOAT!!!!. THE CAL 20 IS AN OCEAN GOING BOAT!!!! WTF????

I managed to grab a tailing rope on the way out, and was being pulled across the lake like a cod on a line, skidding on the surface and full of fear! The boat came back up pretty fast but was starting to get knocked down again under the pressure of the 60 mile per hour squall! My son doused the main, while his little buddies were crawling on the spacious deck, like a bunch of little ants. Since I released the jib as I got sucked out of the boat, that was no longer an issue.

Once the main was doused, and a few hectic minutes had passed, I managed to get back to the boat (thank god since no one on the boat knew how to sail, or turn it around to get me)...

I flopped my big ass onto the cockpit, pulled in the jib a little and we pounded our way back to the launch area. This was a tiny lake by Texas standards. Although the storm was nasty and full of electricity, we all got the boat on the trailer and didn't even lose one kid! Then I took them all out to the local steakhouse and told them how proud I was of them for not panicking nor jumping out of the boat while it was down on it's side.

I since sold the "non tender" boat, but I fully accept my guilt in the stupidity of allowing the boat to have too much sail up, and not to leave once I noticed that a storm was approaching. I'm quite grateful that the kids on board were safe. I learned much by this experience, and will never allow such a scene to happen again. Now that I am primarily an ocean sailer, I am way more cognisant of the dangers that the oncoming water has to offer.

Nuff said tonite!