Posted by: fullandbye | October 7, 2008

another day, another gale

Running around Friday evening. Dinner at the Elysian before heading to the Monk for Eric’s birthday. Good times at the Monk, would only that I did not hate the Crescent so much. That bar is loud, crowded, uncomfortable, awkwardly shaped, and on Friday evening smelled like someone had shat in their pants.

So I rode home in a pouring rain. A shower and then to Greenwood to pick up my two favorite ladies for nightcap hot toddys. Then home to sleep the sleep of the just.

Saturday was totally nuts. I intended to set a speed record on Lake Washington for the Lightning with Adrian and a couple others. We rigged the boat and set out into winds that quickly built from challenging into stupid for a boat that is not self-rescuing. A huge gust caught us alongside and we nearly capsized. In less than three seconds on its side, the boat took on about 22-300 gallons of water, and we sailed back to the dock knowing that a second roll like that would land us in pretty serious trouble.

I spent the rest of the afternoon running around on the rescue boat. Exhausting work and dangerous too, with swimmers in the water mere feet from the prop and the boat being blown all over the place. I wear the dead-man’s switch religiously (it kills the engine if you fall from the boat) but in a moment after I had unclipped it (I had to run to the stern to secure a towline) I was nearly thrown from the boat. Shaken and lesson learned. Scary shit.

A friend who went out to the lake for a skipper test (I was alongside int he whaler) had to ditch boat near a lee shore and then secure a towline to the capsized boat. He could not make progress upwind and eventually just bailed close enough to shore that he could tie a towline and then swim to shore and wait for me to get back. He waited on a private Laurelhurst dock while I towed his capsized boat back to shallower water, where I ditched it with its mast in the mud before returning with a volunteer to sail it back. A second boat needed to be towed for nearly a mile while capsized. A third boat had its mast so hard in the mud that we needed to completely de-rig the boat while it was inverted. This required two swimmers in the water and an assistant handling line and wresting hardware on the bow of the rescue boat. This rescue took nearly an hour and saw some of the most intense winds I have ever seen around here. At one point a 40 knot gust caused cresting waves over water with fetch of less than 1/2 mile, with spray being blown everywhere and a gust so powerful it blew us over 100 meters in less than a minute as we got the situation under control. We shredded a sail retrieving it from the mud. Amazingly, this was the only real damage of the day.

That system ended up being much larger than anyone predicted. Marine forecast did not call a small craft advisory until a few hours before it started blowing, and sailflow called for winds that were considerably lighter than what happened. Marine radio was disheartening too. A couple maydays, and more pan-pan calls than I could count.

The evening was considerably mellower. Sara and I had dinner with my housemates and then saw “Burn After Reading”. The film was both very enjoyable and very very strange.

Sunday was a day of sleeping in, running errands, working on the house, and working on bicycles. All in all, a great day indeed.

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