Friday, April 13, 2018

A Bloggable Misadventure

Umatilla, FL

Back in the days when I was writing blog posts almost daily, Libby and I invented an adjective.   We observed something from real life and we said, "that's bloggable."  Today I did that.

It was a splendid day in central Florida.  Sunny, temperature in the 70s, a nice breeze 10-20.  I wanted to go sailing.  I didn't find anyone to sail with me immediately, so I went alone.   Remember that I'm still very green a a Hobie 16 captain.

Well, I sailed to the far side of the lake.  I was sailing to windward so the sheets were hauled in tight. The boat was moving so fast that I decided to come about rather than gybe.  I blew it.  I was struggling with the tiller extension (that's a major pain on a Hobie cat.).  While I was fiddling with that, the boat inadvertently came about on its own.  That caught me on the wrong side (the leeward side of the boat.)  The wind pushed me broadside to the wind, and the leeward pontoon went under water.  It all happened too fast for me to react.  The next thing I knew, the cat was capsized and I was in the water.

Fortunately, I had a good life jacket on.  I also avoided getting underneath the boat.  So it was simple for me to climb up on the trampoline of the upside down boat.  On the far side of the lake, Libby was watching.  She saw me go over, and she was plenty scared until she saw my orange life vest appear above the water.  That calmed her considerably.

What then?  Well, I am unprepared to right a capsized Hobie 16 myself.  I need to watch videos and to practice it with assistance from a nearby boat for backup.   So I just stood there.   The boat was very stable.  The water was clear and clean and warm, so I could have waited indefinitely.   Another factor, is that tourist season is over and there are very few other boats in the water on that lake.

The wind was blowing me toward the nearest shore.  That would have been fine, except that the masthead got stuck on the bottom while I was still 300 yards from shore.   The boat stopped moving.  What next?

A man on shore saw me and asked if I needed help.  I had him call Libby and tell her to find a boat to come rescue me.  5 minutes later I saw a boat from the RV park leave.  It had to be my rescue.

But rescue would be very difficult with the mast in the mud.   I jumped in the water, swam to the bow and I managed to decouple the fore stay.  Good.  The mast floated up to the surface.  I could float to shallower water.  I then used the paddle and the wind, and soon I made it nearly to shore.  I got stuck in reeds only about 100 feet from shore.

When the rescue boat came, it held Russ from OMS and Libby.  But that boat had only a tiny electric trolling motor.   Much too weak to help me flip the hull, and also too weak to tow me anywhere.

So, I left the cat behind, jumped into the rescue boat, and accepted a ride back to the RV park.  There, we got the car and the trailer, and drove around the lake. We brought with us, some remnants from Tarwathie that I was very glad I saved.  Namely; two 110 foot spare halyards.

My plan was to swim out to the Hobie, and tie a line to her.  While there, I tried holding the capsize line while standing all the way aft on one pontoon to try and right it.  It did no good.  So I swam back to shore with the other end of the line. Then we could pull her in to the beach.  As we were doing that, a neighbor named Randy came to assist.  He was a great help.

The plan succeeded.  We pulled the boat over to the beach.  There, I was able to completely uncouple the mast and boom from the boat.  Then we tried to flip the hull upright using the capsize line.  No way even with the full strength of two men.

We backed the trailer down to the shore.  Then we used the trailer's winch line attached to the capsize line.  That worked, and we got the hull flipped upright.  The hard work was done.

In another 15 minutes, we had the mast and sails and all loose equipment back on board the boat.  Randy had a truck with 4 wheel drive, so he pulled the trailer and boat up to the road.  We then hitched the trailer to my car. thanked Randy, and drove back to the OMS RV park.

I think the only lost casualties were a clevis pin, and a little teflon bushing that sits under the mast.  Nothing broken, nobody injured.  So in that respect I was very lucky.

But beyond all doubt, that was a bloggable event.   Thank you Libby. Thank you Russ.  Thank you Randy.   Thank you my lucky stars.

Pictures?  Sorry, we were too busy to photo journal this event.  But here's a couple.

Here is my launch point in Olde Mill Stream RV Park.  The capsized cat is on the far shore.

The blue thing is the capsized hull.



1 comment:

  1. Phew, You are going to use all of your nine lives and live life to the ultimate fullest aren't you!?! I guess I can't blame you for that, so long as you are enjoying your misadventures as much as your adventures....Who could ask for more?! :) LOVE YOU!!

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