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Thread: What's your worst experience sailing?

  1. #21

    Default Re: What's your worst experience sailing?

    Insomuch as I am able to join the forum... I am still here..
    I fired up the cast Iron topsail .... gance it evereything it had and turned her about so fast the crew were all on the leward side... and didn't have a chage to tack properly...

    Bought a radar
    Now have a Raymarine C120 with Marpa.... That is lovely...

  2. #22

    Default Re: What's your worst experience sailing?

    I had never owned a boat before--let alone a trimaran, but I had crewed on sailing boats of one sort and another since I was a nipper.

    We left Airlie Beach after getting a weather bureau print-out of the forecast. Winds of ten to fifteen kilometers per hour--just the ideal breeze for a heavily loaded tri to stooge along while we watched the scenery slide by. We had intended to sail through Gloucester Passage--a shallow rocky shortcut usually clearly marked--but none of the markers were viisible so we had no option but to circumnavigate Gloucester Island.

    The wind freshened, and we had a bad lee shore--but as long as we were chugging along we were not unduly alarmed--with the reassurance of the weather report. The wind increased further and I could not get away from the shore--the foresail was overpowering the rudder, so we reduced it to almost zero and reefed down the main. By this time we were getting very close to the rocks--and I started the motor and turned the boat away from the shore, weathering the waves on the starboard quarter. The wind was now fifty kph with gusts to 75, and the boat was pitching fairly violently. Our three metre tender which we had lashed loosely to the deck broke free when a wave crashed on to it--and flew like a kite fifteen feet or so in the air--lotsa fun!

    I saw our twenty feet plus deck width reached only about a third way up the slope of one of the waves--which was when the diesel motor--a new Yanmar--stopped. The water was fifty or so feet deep--and to put out enough scope for safety would see us ashore on the rocks.

    My wife passed me tools and I was able to top up the half-full diesel tanks to overflowing, slopping diesel oil all over the place--and to empty out the fuel filters. I then undid the bleed nut and tried to start the motor--which is when I made another interesting discovery. For the time I had been working the battery was being run down by the hydraulic autopilot.

    The engine turned a few times then slowed--so I turned off everything om the vessel and waited a few moments for the plate capacitance to build up a little, then tried again. On the last possible gasp of a dying battery the thing fired on one pot--then after some bubbling on two--then three--and after I shut off the bleed plug slammed down the hatch and put her into forward gear. By now I could have thrown a line ashore we were so close--but in spite of the seas I was finally able to get away from the shore where there were enormous waves caused by the incoming and reflected waves adding or subtracting from one another. The depth sounder showed the bottom rising and falling by about twenty feet--very thought proovoking when some of the rocks are only about that much below the surface where we were.

    Eventually we made it out to sea and motored for a few hours until well clear of the danger angle of the cape, then set sail and ran in behind the island. The wind was absent here so we motored again to Shark Bay intending to anchor there--but by now it was dark--and the moon would not rise for many hours--and it was overcast anyway--so it was like sailing in the void.

    I did start the radar--but it dragged so much power one had to turn it off for most of the time if one ever wished to re-start the diesel engine. We had the GPS map and sailed towards the island watching the sounder--intending to anchor in twenty five feet of water. My wife went forward to release the anchor but was having difficulty so doing--so I went to the bow to push it over the bow roller--when the wife swung the torch ahead of us and saw a cliff just a few feet ahead of the bow.

    Notwithstanding a lame leg I hot-footed it to the wheel-house and slipped the engine into reverse--then full power. The sounder still showed plenty of water as we reversed into the darkness--then I noticed the chart-plotter showed us well clear of the shore. The datum setting was incorrect. A dangerous trap. Make sure you swing your compass and set your chart-plotter datum against a known position!

    It was pure chance that had saved us. The wife told me that she could have touched the cliff face before the boat reversed--thank goodness we were only inching along. Shark Bay is not a place in which one would wish to sink--for obvious reasons.

    Later I discovered that the place we almost ran ashore is the only possible spot where one can come so close to the shore without hitting rocks--so we had our two chances in a lifetime on the same day.

    The next day we had anchor problems and spotted what is usually called a UFO--not little green men visible though--that was scary--

    Last edited by Mike Banks; 12th July 2012 at 02:03 AM. Reason: Spelling and grammar

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Melbourne Australia

    Default Re: What's your worst experience sailing?

    That gave me goose bumps thinking about it,

    Glad it worked out for you,

    Gives you some thing to talk about for a long while to come.


  4. #24

    Default Re: What's your worst experience sailing?

    Clearly I have led a boring sailing life compared to most of the contributers to this thread. I have had some exciting moments like a waterspout 100 feet away, not once but 3 times (I guess they like me), but fortunately eveything was working. My scariest moment occurred just a couple of weeks ago in the gulf stream 120 miles off Charleston SC. It was 2:00 in the morning (it always is when things go bad) and I was just getting ready to wake up my wife for her watch. The weather forecast was running about 6 hours behind schedule and we were running about six hours ahead of schedule (I do like that boost from the GS) and the wind which had been forecast to go to less than 10 and change to the north was still from the east and at about 15. Add to that we were in the area thats marked as turbulent water on the charts (believe the chart) and of course since the stream had turned much more easterly in this area we had a wind opposing current issue where some of the waves had no back side so we'd go over the top and fall 6 feet into a hole on the other side. Of course it was the night of the new moon so you couldn't see it coming. In any case I decided to make a trip to the aft head and I steped on the cover of the house bank box which is below the floor in the starboard hull and it was very hot. I quickly pulled off the cover and put my hand on the batteries. Both of them were so hot I could not keep my hand on them. I quickly grabbed a digital thermometer from the galley and put it between the batteries and it quickly stabilized at 171 degrees F. We had been motor sailing to keep the batteries charged while using the autopilot and radar. My batteries were old and I had planned on replacing them when I had the boat in the yard in NC where I had planned to stop for a month. In any case I decided I needed to get the charging power off the batteries immediately so I shut down the engine in hopes that it would solve the battery heating problem. I also turned off the radar and waited an hour to see if they cooled off. At the end of that hour I checked the temperature again and it was up to 187 degrees F. Now it's 3:00 in the morning and at the rate of increase we were going to be in trouble quite soon. All sorts of things passed through my mind, like what was the boiling point of the electrolyte in an AGM battery, would the pressure relief valves work if it did boil or would the batteries explode. The decision at that point was not simple of course. I had lost my battery combiner to a lightning strike 2 weeks before so I had no way to easily connect my start bank to the house bank circuits (replacing that was another project for the yard). In case I decided that the batteries had to go. We had always contemplated the problem of getting two 155 lb 4d batteries out of the hole that passed for a battery compartment and dreaded the thought. Well the answer was that one just needed proper motivation. I shut down the house circuits which meant I lost basically everything electrical on the boat, radio, running lights, radar, auto pilot and interior lights. All of this while watching several ships in the general vicinity, one only 3 miles away when we went dark. In any case still had a netbook computer with a USB GPS and a handheld vhf with full batteries. So I checked my position and put out a securite call. I don't know if any of the ships heard it, but none ever responded. We hauled the batteries out on the back deck by the rope handles. If the batteries had not had the handles I don't know how we would ever have gotten them out. I decide to wait a while and see if they started to cool down before dumping them overboard and set about rewiring the boat to connect the house and start circuits. By the way we had also decided to give up following the gulf stream and started heading for cape fear, which was about the same distance as Charleston at this point and at a favorable angle to the waves. Did I mention that I had only had two hours sleep in the last 48? In any case I had serious reservations as to wether I could rewire a boat in my mental state, but I had little choice. Fortunately the negative side was already common so I only had to rewire the positive side. The cable to the battery combiner from the house bank was a separate 4 gauge wire to the positve terminal of the hose bank so I connected the old house bank + to that and bypassed the battery combiner, but used the posts on it to connect the banks together. Well in about an hour I had all of the house circuits powered. I obviously wasn't going to be running the inverter or any other high loads on my kludge but we had running lights, radio, radar, and autopilot back in service without getting run over by the freighters. I also had checked the house batteries on the back deck and after an hour could hold my hand on them so they were obviously cooling down. I went to bed and woke up about 4 hours later. The calm winds had finnally arrived and the seas were as smooth as glass so I decided that there was no point in heading to cape fear and changed course back to Beaufort.

    So for lessons learned. In checking the house batteries we found one had developed an internal short. It was getting hot because of power feeding the short and the other battery was getting hot because it was supplying the power that was feeding that short.

    lesson 1: AGM batteries are susceptable to shorts despite the advertising that they hold up better than conventional batteries to vibration and impacts (slamming). I suspect that falling off the back of one of those backless waves broke something loose.

    Lesson 2: One should have switches on all banked batteries that allow you to isolate and disconnect any and/or all batteries. Make sure that the off position of the switches in question disconnect the batteries from each other as well as the load.

    3: Do not depend on an electrical battery combiner to connect your start bank to the house bank in an emergency. Even if My battery combiner had been working it would have disconnected the house circuits every five minutes. I now have an electrical combiner for managing the charging regime, but have mechanical combining switch which keeps the banks combined as long as I need.

    And last but not least is well known but true, things will only go bad in the worst possible places and times. In this case it was at our farthest point off shore at 2 in the morning in the trubulent water zone. Mr. Murphy knows what he's talking about.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Columbia River, Pacific North West

    Default Re: What's your worst experience sailing?

    The other day it was 105 F and no breeze with 2 kt's of current that's about the worst

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Stratford upon Avon

    Default Re: What's your worst experience sailing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    The other day it was 105 F and no breeze with 2 kt's of current that's about the worst
    The other day it was 7*C, torrential rain all day and strong winds with violent gusts. It was worse 150 miles away were the boat is on a swing mooring. Not good for rowing out to her.

    Nothing works on an old boat, except the skipper.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Island living on the Outer Banks

    Default Re: What's your worst experience sailing?

    "There I was flat on my back". No wait, that was another story...

    I had just secured my third grouper to my stringer when I saw a 6' bull shark circling about. I thought that since it was getting crowded, I'd just take what I had back up to the boat, and leave the rest for another day.
    I had set my anchor near a buoy, and since I found myself directly under the buoy, I decided to ascend the buoy chain rather than swim back to the anchor.
    When I reached the surface and did a 360, my boat was GONE!

    I doffed all my scuba gear and secured it to the buoy, then climbed to the top of it with the grouper. Looking down wind, I saw my boat just over a mile away, BROADSIDE, which meant the anchor was still dragging...

    Stripping down to only shorts, fins and a mask, I proceeded to swim towards the boat. I'd swim about 10 minutes, then look up to see if I was gaining on it. After 20 minutes, I was still no closer! (Did I mention that I was 15 miles offshore?)

    Finally, I saw the boat swing about and point directly at me, letting me know the anchor had snagged onto something. I swam like hell to get to it before she broke loose again.

    After catching up to the boat, I went back and retrieved my gear, and groupers.

    The lesson learned: Now I ALWAYS begin my dives by descending the anchor line and securing it with a piece of ss chain and carabiner around some structure... Capt. Terry

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