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