Sailing in the Shadow of Neptune's Rath

Having paid the price to live through Spinal Bone Cancer, 18 hours of surgery, paralysis, and years of rehabilitation... A way of life emerged; a passion to live out my "last rodeo" with the wind in my hair and the waves under my seat...

25 October 2016 | Dinghy in her harbor
15 August 2015 | Ft. Walton Beach Landing
23 May 2015 | FL 120 After the Capsize and Self Rescue
14 February 2015 | Beaufort, N.C.
08 June 2011 | ICW along the southern Texas Coast Line

Rescue the Dinghy, How hard could it be ...

25 October 2016 | Dinghy in her harbor
The conditions were reasonable to begin the arduous final leg to the home port. Along the way, the dinghy came loose, and needed to be rescued. Simple enough, what could go wrong?


For the past couple of days, I have been harbored in a slip at Ft. Walton, as the remains of a hurricane pass through. On the third day, conditions were reasonable to power sail west on the ICW towards the home port. At 10:37 in the morning I realized the dinghy was no longer in tow, and could be seen about half a mile behind me. I shut down the sails, and began what should have been a "simple" rescue of the dinghy. Instead, a series of multiple challenging events, consumed the rest of the day.

The winds are 15 to 23 knots due east; the normally calm waters are cresting at 3 ft; the dinghy is drifting east at 1.8 knots. When I caught up to the dinghy, I met my 1st challenge.

The 1st Challenge: how to snag the dinghy, while single handed, controlling a drifting ship, next to a moving target (the dinghy), in the context of the wind and waves. Soon there after, I got my answer; you don't.

While working to snag the dinghy, the mother ship had slid up on a channel marker and was looking to tie up with the post. Through some quick manuevering (and grace), the ship was freed, and the dinghy chase was back in motion.

The 2nd challenge: snag the dinghy, while the mother ship is at anchor; no more drifting blind, as I attempt to snag the dinghy. I lowered the anchor, down wind of the dinghy, and waited for the dinghy to "come to moma"; surely, this will do it; what could go wrong...

As the dinghy approached I was ready with a pole and a rope... but, the dinghy was not quite close enough. Think fast... So, I threw on a PFD, grabbed a rope, and jumped into the very chilly water, after the dinghy. What should have been an easy swim to the dinghy, quickly had me exhausted and not even close to the dinghy. So, I turned back toward the mother ship and expected to see the stern a short swim away. Instead, I quickly realized I was in the iron grip of a 2 knot current. I was located not behind the mother ship, but 50 ft. in front of the mother ship and my distance was increasing by the second.

... the high winds were blowing the dinghy east, while the water current was pulling me west ...

At first I swam towards the stern, where the ladder was located; bad idea; futile to say the least. I noted the very long, taught anchor line, pointing, like a steel rod, from the front of the bow. I swam with all I could muster to snag the anchor line and then pull myself up to the bow. Once there, I could catch my breath. I was almost too late. I had to dive a short distance down to find the anchor line and grab it. I pulled myself to the bow, rested, and then swam for the stern.

Time for lunch, and a new plan...

I checked the charts, and found that at some point, the dinghy would find a shoreline and beach herself.

The 3rd challenge: How to leave the mother ship, and not get caught in the current, swim to shore, and then rescue the dinghy.

The dinghy beached herself. The charts indicated a point in the waters, where I could anchor the ship close enough to get to shore, and then walk a mile or so to rescue the dinghy.

This time, with reasonable difficulty, I was able to rescue the dinghy, and I was on my way back to the mother ship. With the wind at my back, the dinghy was easy to paddle back to the mother ship. The trick was going to be, to snag the mother ship while on the dinghy. If I missed, there is little chance I could paddle against the wind to the mother ship. Fortunately, all went well. I thought my troubles were over...

The 4th challenge: The tide was going out, such that the ship was now lightly bumping the bottom of the shallow water. The longer I stay here, the worse it is going to get. Each time a wave comes in, it lifts the ship up, and then lowers the ship down; "boom", bumps the bottom over and over again. Meanwhile, the winds have changed, and the shoreline is now right behind the stern.

When I raise the anchor, as soon as the anchor releases itself from the bottom, the winds will blow her straight back into the shore... not good. At the same time, the winds are blowing so hard, there is no way I can pull the anchor in by hand.

The plan: use the jib winch to pull the anchor in; run the engine to provide forward propulsion. As soon as the anchor releases from the bottom, increase the engine to full throttle to push the ship away from shore (with the anchor dragging in the water). What could go wrong...

I setup the anchor line on the winch, started the engine, and put it in gear. Then I began cranking the winch. The anchor line quickly got tangled up in the winch. This would not be so bad, if I had released the anchor line from the horn cleat on the bow, BEFORE I started to crank the winch. However, now the anchor line was locked between the horn cleat on the bow, and the winch; there was no way to release the anchor line. Meanwhile, the rythm of boom, boom, boom as the ship bumped the bottom was getting louder... not good.

The solution: cut the anchor line, and start again...

With the $125 anchor line severed and the anchor line reset in the winch, the engine running in gear, I began cranking the winch. Little by little the ship moved forward until the anchor released from the bottom. With the engine at full throttle, the ship, bounced and skidded across the bottom to deeper water.

It was now 16:38 and I was finally, back under way.

Today, I own a Sail Touring business in Pensacola, FL. Please feel free to connect to with me when you are in town.

Sinbad Sail Ventures, Daily two hour sail tours

Link To: Sinbad Sail Ventures

Out of Control Docking, Saved by Rogue Dinghy

15 August 2015 | Ft. Walton Beach Landing
It was the end of a long day, all was going well. Sails down, under power, total control and moving slow, as I made the final approach to gently slide into the docking slip awaiting her next occupant at the Ft. Walton Beach Landing, when total control was lost and emergency procedures were invoked...

The Story: Ft. Walton Beach, FL Landing

Sooner or later, if you sail long enough, you learn to highten your awareness of not only which way the wind blows, but also the quiet, suttle, gentle current flowing in the water below the sailboat; especially when it comes to the final docking manuevers.

A basic principle of sailing: Propulsion is based on what is happens above the water; control is based on what happens below the water. When either of these principles is violated, chaos results.

For a sailboat to maintain control, it must have a minimum flow of water moving from the bow to the stern; a minimum amount of water flowing over keel and rudder. For this reason, a sailboat must keep moving through the water at a minimal speed, or the helm begins to loose control.

As I approached the dock, ready to slide into the slip, the winds were stout over the starboard side. Having accounted for the winds, the speed of my approach would need to be a little faster than normal to maintain control; so far not a problem. All was well on the approach, and it was time to apply some reverse thrust via the engine, to slow the sailboat down as she entered the boat slip.

Just as I applied the reverse thrust, the helm lost total control, and the vessel continued to slide forward and began to rotate.

The issue: there was a current in the water, moving in the same direction as the sailboat. When I applied reverse thrust, the required minimal flow of water over the keel and rudder was zeroed out; gone; nada; nothing.

All control was now lost, as the sailboat continued to wander aimlessly deeper into the boat slip. All expectations of a well managed docking were gone.

I immediately applied full throttle to the reverse thrust, in a vain attempt to regain some aspect of control. However, sailboats are well designed to move forward through the water; they maneuver very poorly in reverse; today was no exception.

Just when I was expecting the worst..., it was liken to the hand of God had come down and grabbed the sailboat, and total control was instantly returned. The sailboat straightened out, slowed, and gently, ever so gracefully, laid herself on the portside of the docking slip.

I had nothing to do with what just happened. All I could do was watch in amazement, and then quickly secure her docking lines before anything else happens.

Seems... The dinghy, which was in tow behind the sailboat, had been blown down wind during the docking approach. This put the dinghy, not behind the sailboat, but behind and off to the portside of the sailboat. As the sailboat entered the docking slip and then proceeded to loose control, the dinghy slid into the next docking slip. The tow line to the dinghy, was now reaching back from the stern and routed around the post between the two docking slips, and over to the dinghy. The dinghy was entering one slip, and the sailboat was entering the next slip over. One end of the tow line was tied to the bow of the dinghy. The other end of the tow line was tied to the portside stern of the sailboat.

When all chaos broke loose at the helm, the dinghy tow line (moments latter) began the sudden miraculous restoration of control on the sailboat. The sailboat straightened, slowed her forward progress, and gently laid her portside along the docking slip. Go figure... :)

Today, I have a Sailing Tour business in Pensacola FL; Daily two hour sail Tours on the Pensacola Bay.

Sinbad Sail Ventures

If you are ever in town, drop by and say hello; we can exchange stories...

Link To: Sinbad Sail Ventures

Rookie Mistake = Capsize & Desperate Self Rescue

23 May 2015 | FL 120 After the Capsize and Self Rescue
Every year in the 1st part of June, the annual FL 120 Sailing Raid takes place here in Pensacola, FL. Over a four day weekend, a flotilla of small sailing vessels, converge on the area to sail 120 miles, and camp out each night. Each vessel should be self reliant and carry enough cargo (food, water, shelter) to sustain the 120 mile trip. While help or assistance may be near by (a fellow sailor), each Skipper should be ready to execute a Self Rescue Plan, in the event it is warranted...


Having planned and trained for several months, for the FL 120 Sailing Event to begin, I was very excited and short of a hurricane, nothing was going stop me.

At 04:00 in the morning I was up and getting ready or the 1st day of the FL 120. The winds were blowing at 21 to 27 knots, the rain was just letting up, and old man winter was still hanging on. When I arrived at the dock, I made quick friends with a Lady Sailor from out of S.C., who was very unsure of launching the sailboats under such conditions; for the most part, she was correct. We talked for a short while; planning, preparedness, and formed a strategy as a tandem sailing team.

As the sun began to rise behind the wet, windy grey skies, we set sail for our 1st destination 40 miles away. The 1st hour was flat out rough and scarey. We had to stop and beach both sailboats on the windward shore to make adjustments to the sails, and check the sanity meter.

With the adjustments made, our sail strategy improved, and the next several hours were totally thrilling. The hull speed of each sailboat is 4.3 knots; we were flying along at 7.5 knots; smooth, stable, all was well...

With the Lady Sailor 40 yards ahead, VHF Marine Radio for communications, and the high winds coming in over the portside stern quarter... I noted a loose line hanging down from the end of the boom. Loose lines have a way of causing mischief. I wanted to secure the loose line.

The high winds were on the stern quarter. A slight shift in direction, could easily result in a full scale accidental jibe. In these winds, flying along at 7+ knots, an accidental jibe will absolutely result in a Full On Capsize or worse.

The Rookie Manuever...

Feeling over confident, and self congratulating that we had taimed and harnessed the beastly sailing conditions, I stood up, reached over to snag the loose line with my fingers... bad idea.

The direction of the sailboat shifted slightly, as I was focused on the line; the hurling winds slung the boom across the cockpit. The boom slammed into my chest and knocked me clear out of the sailboat. The sailboat capsized, and began to take on water.

Meanwhile, the Lady Sailor continued to sail ahead unawarenof the disaster that had just occurred.

Planning, Training, Self Rescue...

To accommodate the cold waters in the event of an unexpected swim, I wore a wet suite. In the event of a capsize, I had training procedures ready for execution; in the event that I went MOB (Man Over Board), I had a 75 ft MOB line trailing from the stern, with knots tied at every three feet along the line; In the event that I was outside the boat and in the water, I had a boarding ladder mounted on the stern. Collectively, I had a Self Rescue System ready to go...

As I surfaced after landing in the water, the sailboat was on its side. Seconds later, the sailboat began to lift the mast up from the water. The wind got under the sails, and up she went; back on her feet. As the main sail flew across the cockpit and slammed into the starboard side, the entire sailboat took off like a rocket. With the sailboat well beyond reach, and now racing out to the roughest region of wind and waves, I immediately swam, like greased lightning, for the MOB line (before it was out of reach).

I hit (grabbed) the MOB line at 35 ft from the sailboat. The question, which has never been tested... Can you pull yourself up to the boat, inspite of the cold water over your hands, as the sailboat, like a tractor, pulls you along...

The answer: yes; adrenaline is your friend

When I got to the stern of the sailboat, my entire body is streaming horizontally behind the boat, as I hang onto the MOB line. With one hand holding onto the stern, my body streaming horizontaIly, I released the ladder into the water. Normally, the ladder falls into a vertical position behind the sailboat. Today, like me, the ladder is streaming horizontally behind the sailboat. After a couple of failed attempts to mount the ladder, I waited a few minutes to catch my breath, and then tapped into the adrenaline boost... Once on the ladder, I entered the cockpit, and regained control and navigation of the sailboat.

As I turned the direction of the sailboat back toward calmer winds and waves, I spot the Lady Sailor heading out toward me. Via the marine radio, I instructed her to turn back; I will explain everything when we get back on track.

The Lady Sailor was not aware of any of the issues I was working through. By the time she became aware of my strange position and direction, I was too far away; she could not see anything that was going on. All she could see was my sailboat heading out into the roughest wind and waves. To her credit, she stuck with me as a team member, inspite of the challenging conditions. When she could not raise me on the marine radio, she suspected something was wrong. When we got back on track, I filled her in on all the sailing drama.

We arrived at Spector Island, along with a handful of others, in record time. About half the flotilla never left port that day. A handful of others, soon after leaving port, capsized.

In retrospect, what could have happened...

From the point where I capsized, my sailboat would have traveled quickly out into the roughest wind and waves without end. The Lady Sailor, did not know I was in the water, leaving me stranded. The Lady Sailor would have followed a Ghost Ship into the roughest wind and waves. We could have ended up with two sailing casualties.

Today, the Lady Sailor has her USCG Captain's license, and continues to explore and expand her sailing ventures.

Today, I own a Sailing Tour business:

Sinbad Sail Ventures

Please feel free to stop by, and connect with me when you are in town.

Link To: Sinbad Sail Ventures

The Squel to the Movie: Perfect Storm

14 February 2015 | Beaufort, N.C.
30 deg, 50 kt winds, 35 Ft. breaking seas
* Date: Feb 13, 2015
* Location: 60+ Nautical Miles east of South Carolina
* Time: 23:30
* Temperature: 30 degrees Fahrenheit
* Winds: 50+ knots due east
* Waves: 35+ ft breaking swells, coming from three directions
* Visability: zero; pitch black moonless night
* Ships Status: Rigging failures; taking on water; 75 percent loss of control
* Crew Status: hyperthermia in progress; no food for 18+ hours

... as the US Navy, and a USCG Chopper arrive on the scene, to begin a series of four rescue attempts at sea...

The Abridged Story: The sailing vessel Trio, met it's unfortunate demise as the convergence of a massive winter storm that arrived several hours early. The storm penetrated deeper south than expected. The near dead calm winds for several hours before the storm, stranded the sailing vessel Trio, dead in the cross hairs of an impending doom. The result was a World-class at Sea Rescue initiated by SPOT (a rescue beacon) and executed by the US Navy and the US Coast Guard.

The voyage began in Beaufort, S.C., where we launched the sailing vessel Trio, on a voyage down the eastern U.S. coastline on our way to Pensacola Florida. The sailing vessel Trio is a 40 ft. World-Class racing, trimaran sailboat; a Condor 40. The Condor sailing vessel, was designed to race across the Atlantic Ocean at speeds up to 40 knots. Each of the four crew members, brought a critical unique skill set resulting in the successful heroic battling of an unrelenting storm; 50+ knot winds, 35+ ft. breaking ocean swells coming from three directions, with temperatures dropping to 30 degrees. The Skipper, a former Navy Seal; the 1st mate, an Electrical Engineer, and sailor; the 2nd mate, a lady sailor, seasoned in the tactics of sailboat racing; the 3rd mate, the Skipper's 14 yr old son, possessed the stamina, calm and control that a mature man would be proud to possess.

The voyage began off the coast of South Carolina, at 16:33 on Feb 13, 2015, winds 14 knots out of the northwest; temperature 49 degrees and dropping; sunset would begin at 18:07 and slide into a moonless night. The sail plan for the next 24 hours, at an average speed of 10 knots or more, would put us in the region of Daytona Beach, FL; which is much warmer and significantly south of a massive winter storm heading down toward Beaufort, S.C..

As the sun set and the temperatures dropped, all went according to plan. The sailing vessel Trio, under full sails, was briskly cruising along at 15 knots, which would position us well south of the impending winter storm; not due for another 12 hours. As the evening matured on the inky black night, the temperature dropped to 31 degrees, and the winds began to slow to a near stand still until deep into the night. As the morning sun peaked over the welcomed horizon, the sails were once again filled and the temperatures began to rise. All was well, and my duty shift was now over, as I (the 1st mate) headed into my bunk for some well over due sleep.

At 11:17 in the morning, what sounded like a shotgun being fired, was followed by the voice of the Skipper calling for "all hands on deck". The enormously large main sail, mounted on a mast reaching a height of 60 ft., was flying freely in the wind; only the lazy jack sail system held the main sail raggedly in place. A stainless steel 3/16 inch cable, attached to the main sail clew, had exploded under the stress of the climbing winds. From this point onward, a non-stop sequence of potentially disasterous issues, was mitigated by the heroic courage, teamwork, ample resources, and a brilliant capacity to assess the situation and find a solution.

Over the next several hours, the sails were reduced to bare poles; a large drogue was deployed to slow the boat down from 20 knots to 12 knots; the main cabin was taking on water from a leak somewhere under the hull; the mast with a height of 60 ft., had two structural support cables break loose; a portside window had broken out allowing more water to enter the cabin; the winds climbed up to 50+ knots, the ocean swells increased to 35+ft., and the white caps turned into breaking waves; the breaking swells began attacking the sailing vessel Trio from three sides; the entire crew became sea sick except myself; after several hours of deployment, the thick nylon line towing the large drogue, snaps (breaks) under enormous tension; without the drogue, the poor stability and control of the sailboat degraded further, and begins racing along at 20 knots due east into the abyss of the Atlantic Ocean; the storm anchor was deployed and teathered to the stern of the sailboat, to replace the drogue; the sailboat experiences a major broach about every 20 minutes; during a broach, the 40 ft. trimaran would raise up one of its enormous amas (pontoon) into the air and reach for the sky, and then ever so gracefully, the ama would return back to the water; there was a 5 knot current in the water running north, perpendicular to the direction of the sailboat, which further aggravated the potential for the sailboat to be broached. During a broach, the potential for a sailboat to be rolled is significant. If a trimaran sailboat is rolled over, it will forever remain upside down.

In order to retain stability (anti-broach), the stern of the sailboat should remain pointed at the breaking swell coming from one of three directions. As the night air approached, the temperature was dropping, and the blind darkness of a moonless night, made it impossible to navigate according to the breaking swells. We could no longer point the stern at a breaking swells, further aggravating the potential for the sailboat to be broached.

At this point in the voyage, half the crew had been up for 36 hours. None of the crew had eaten or retained food for 18 hours. Hypothermia was beginning to set in. Navigation was reduced to one crewman calling out the compass heading, while a second crewman adjusted the helm in a mostly futile attempt to retain a heading of due east. The sailboat was being constantly broached, as swells crashed into an ama, or over the stern.

At 18:06 the Skipper called for a meeting with the crew. The Skipper asked each crew member if it was time to ignite the SPOT rescue beacon; the answer was unanimously, yes. For the next two and a half hours, the crew huddled up against the cockpit cabin wall, emersed in the darkness of the night, the cold, and the swells crashing over the sailboat. Each of us, in his own way, sat quietly and pondered the reality of this day; each minute weighed as heavy as an hour. Although we were caught up in the jaws of a desperate situation, waves crashing over the sailboat, over and over again, we sat quietly shivering, hungry, and exhausted. An iron dome of confidence inspired by the Skipper, the sailboat integrity, and the fact that we had a SPOT rescue beacon activated, fortified us with hope, courage, and energy.

The rescue process involved two helicoptors; one from the Naval USS George Bush aircraft carrier, the second from the US Coast Guard, followed by a seemingly endless series of highly trained heroic rescue attempts over the next hour or so. In the context of an ocean rescue, especially in the dead of a dark night, in major storm conditions, in freezing temperatures,... the last option for a rescue attempt, is to keep track of and then fish a crew member out of the ragging waters. However, time was running out. The helicopter would soon be out of fuel. In the end, each crew member had to abandon ship, one at a time, and hope the US Coast Guard did not loose sight of him (her) in the pitch black darkness of the heavy seas of the Atlantic ocean, in a major winter storm.

The key principles of our eventful rescue were: physical resources (tools, spare parts, gear); the team cohession generated by the relentless leadership in a never wavering demonstration of heroic calm demeanor and courage of the Skipper to execute and carry out very dangerous tactics and procedures; and the personal peace of mind that we had a SPOT rescue beacon on board, which demonstrated that when all else fails, SPOT delivers the reliability your life can depend on.

Today, the crew is alive and well in Pensacola FL. Once a year, they gather for a social reunion and celebration. The Skipper is building a sailboat; his son has continued with his High School studies; the lady sailor is now a US Coast Guard licensed Captain; and I have started a Sailing Tour business here in Pensacola; Sinbad Sail Ventures

My website is:


Mast Rigging Tangled on a Channel Marker

08 June 2011 | ICW along the southern Texas Coast Line
* Location: ICW along the Texas coast line; miles from civilization
* Winds: 25 to 35 knots, SW
* Vessel: 16 ft. Sloop
* Status: totally alone, exhausted, near sunset

It is the end of a long day, it has been several hours since I last saw another vessel anywhere near by. The sails are on the port side of the sailboat, as I sail single handed, blind to any obsticals on the port side... when the I spot a 20 ft. channel marker just under the jib sail. Cruising along at 5 knots, I am about to smash the bow straight into a what looks like a telephone pole...


Once a year a flotilla of small sailing vessels gather in June, at Port Issabella, Texas, for the Texas 200 Sailing Raid; five days, and 200 miles of sailing up the Texas coast line. Every morning the flotilla of 45 to 60 sailboats set sail. At the end of each day, the flotilla sets up camp, and begins repairs as needed.

The typical foltilla sailing profile:
* 16 to 23 ft sailing vessels
* sufficient food, water, shelter for at least five days
* 900 lbs of cargo and crew on a 700 lbs vessel
* proficiency in self rescue, is a must

On the third day of the Texas 200, I lost track of the flotilla; my sailing skills and knowledge were no where near the levels they should be; I could not begin to keep up.

It's the end of the day, I'm exhausted, hungry, alone and miles from civilization. The sun will begin to set in two hours. I have a compass for navigation, and a watch. At this point, I begin to relax as I should be within two hours of the flotilla campsite for the night.

The winds are blowing at 25 knots over the starboard stern quarter, when I spotted, what looks like a telephone pole, just beyond the bottom of the jib sail. I am about to smash the portside bow straight into a 20 ft. channel marker post.

I immediately steer hard to starboard to try to avoid the channel marker post... When I did this, the sailboat heeled even further to port. In as much, the top of the mast and cable rigging become completely tangled in the top of post. The sailboat was now helplessly snared at the top of the post with the top of the mast.

At this point, the sailboat turned on its portside, with the top of mast tangled at top of the post, and began to circle, counter clockwise, around the post. With water beginning to flow into the cockpit, the sailboat completed a full 270 degree turn around the post.

At 270 degrees, the sailboat is now pointed straight into the wind. One of the rigging cables snap, and the sailboat drops to being flat on the water again. The sailboat is freed from the post; but at what cost...

The winds fill the sails, and the sailboat is headed back toward the post for a second shot at it. With everything I have, I begin the process of tacking through the wind. The main sail flashes over the top of my head, but not before leaving it's mark. Dizzy and seeing stars, I scrambled to stay inside the cockpit, and then regain control of myself and the sailboat.

At this point, the sailboat is headed in the right direction, but I have to figure the sailboat has massive damage somewhere... I spot an island about a mile ahead, and sail straight for it.

With the sailboat beached in shallow water, I began the process of damage assessment. The sails are not ripped;. the sail rigging that sustains the mast is intact; the portside bow, does not have a big hole, nor is it cracked; seems all is fine, as though nothing happened, when I notice a cable flying in the wind liken to heavy a ribbon. The cable is the topping lift for the main sail.

Upon further inspection, I noted: a slight dent in a portside side stroud spreader; a significant bend in the forestay cable, but it is mostly cosmetic; and the topping lift cable is 100% fine...

Surely, the topping lift cable, snapped; and should be broken... somewhere. Turns out, the topping lift cable buckle, which connects to the end of the boom, simply "unbuckled itself", at exactly the right time, and the right place. The topping lift cable, and the buckle are fine. I simply reconnect the buckle back onto the end of the boom, and I'm ready to get underway...

Other than the extremely minor physical damage... it is as though nothing ever happened. As though I was suffering from exhaustion, and had imagined everything.

Today, I have a Sail Touring business in Pensacola Beach... Be sure to connect with me, when you are in town :)
Link To: Sinbad Sail Ventures

Navigation gone, Surfn Down Swellls, Near Barge Collision

05 June 2011 | Teaxs Coast Line
Every year in early June, the Texas 200, an annual five day sailing event begins in Port Issabella, TX; 10 miles north of the Mexican border. The winds are horrendous, as the 50+ small sailboat floatila launches.

It's day one, of a five day sail; I'm single handed, and way short on my sailing skills. I'm in a 16 ft. sloop, as I enter the 28+ knot winds. This will be the 1st time I have ever sailed in salt waters, let alone ocean waters.

To compensate for my lack of sailing skills and experience, I am sailing tandum with a seasoned sailor (Kevin), who is in another sailboat. Kevin is in charge of navigation, and we both have marine radios to communicate.

We got a late start, as Kevin was sick that morning; so we were on our own, as the rest of the flotilla was way ahead of us. Twenty minutes after we launch, I get a message on the marine radio; it's Kevin. "We have no navigation; equipment failure". With this news in mind, I look around in all directions; nothing but water in every direction. The sun is of no help, as it is hidden somewhere behind the clouds.

As part of my inexperience in sailing and navigation, if all else fails, I had figured to be able to use the coast line to be able to navigate with; wrong! This was a moment that I will never forget; the view of absolutely no site of land, anywhere...

Just one day before leaving to join the TX 200 flotilla, Kevin and I bought a marine grade compass and mounted it on the deck. At the time, I thought it made a nice hood ornament. Now, it was the only linkage between hopelessly lost and some idea of which way to go. We set a course of NW, and hoped for the best.

Naturally, the idea of turning around and heading back to port was standard procedure in such circumstances. However, the winds were hurling and there was no way battle your way back. For better or for worse, we were helplessly bound to wherever the sail journey takes us.

It wasn't long before the waves turned into swells, and the boat would rise like a cork on an elevator. As the swells grew, control of the sailboat was waining; the sailboat was being broached on a periodic basis that could be anticipated (which helped a lot). As a swell began lifting the stern of boat, the sailboat would begin to turn sideways. Soon thereafter, the swells grew to 20+ ft, and the sailboat would surf down the front side of the swell, liken to a surfboard. After a while, it became a bit of a thrill; however, my gut continued to tell me, I was in grave danger; little did I know just how much...

Several hours later, we could see land once again. The humongous swells were now gone as the winds continued to blow. After all that I had been through, I began to relax into a sence of calm, as we had joined up with part of the floatilla... when I recieved a msg from Kevin on the marine radio:

Kevin: "Do you see that big boat"
Me: "Sure, I see several boats"
Kevin: "No, I mean look behind you..."

I looked behind me... a huge barge was bearing down on me... I immediately sailed out of harms way, with about 4 minutes to spare.

Look closely at the picture, that's me just outside the portside of the huge barge.

... and so went the 1st day the Texas 200, and my 1st experience sailing in ocean waters...

Today, I own a Sailing Tour business in Pensacola, FL:

Sinbad Sail Ventures

Be sure to drop by and say hello, and exchange stories...


Link To: Sinbad Sail Ventures
Vessel Name: Mystic Wind
Vessel Make/Model: O'Day 272 Sailboat
Hailing Port: Pensacola Beach
Extra: Have the wind blow through your hair, as we ride the waves under your seat...
Home Page:
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Mystic Wind's Photos -