* 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