Posted by: fullandbye | March 15, 2009

terrifying day at sea

Sail Race yesterday on Puget Sound. I nearly fell in about two minutes into the race. I slid down the deck and under the lifelines. I managed to grab a stanchion as my body slid off the boat. The water came up to mid-thigh or so, but we were going so fast and we were heeled so far over that I was pretty much scooped into the boat. I was in the drink for maybe 10 seconds. Water did not even get under my foulies.

The regular spinnaker got caught on the vang tackle as we tried to hoist and ended up getting a 15″ hole. We raised the backup chute and instantly were on a full plane, going at least 12kts surfing down waves. This lasted for maybe 20 minutes before the winds just got insane (35kts solid) and we found ourselves sledding downwind in a full gale.

A huge gust (45+) and a 5′ wave ended up taking us out in a broach. The skipper lost all steerage as the wave surged past and as the boom hit the water all I could hear was the rush of turbulent water and a “Here we go. Hold on!” from the skipper as the boat heeled to 90 degrees and we all held on. As the boat righted itself we saw that the impact of the water tore the spinnaker completely apart and we struggled to get it down. A few minutes later we had hoisted the jib and were struggling to maintain control as the bow wanted to dig and the boat tried to cock to weather.

Under main and jib we could not keep the boat pointed downwind and we kept on wiping out. With Edmonds on our Starboard bow we made the decision to abandon the race and head towards land. 1/2 hour later we were tied up, sails down, and grateful no one was hurt. We ultimately brought the trailer back from Shilshole, took the mast down and trailered the boat back.

The carnage from the day: Two boats hard aground on the shoal near Edmonds. Multiple cases of hypothermia from people dunked in the drink as their boats broached. One man overboard picked up by a different boat. One person who was taken off his boat when he had a heart attack. Countless sails damaged, many beyond repair, one broken boom.

I have seen some gnarly shit but I have never been as frightened as I was yesterday. Conditions like that are lethal. It was positively terrifying.


Moving out of my house in a week.

Going to Israel a week from Tuesday.

The holding pattern is beginning to break up as I transition into a phase that will hopefully take me to August 2011. More on this in another post.


  1. That sounds epic. The weather was crazy today, too.

  2. i was so happy to see you walk in to Al’s saturday night! we must rendezvous for hugs before you leave for adventuring!

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