Along with this season, come all the routine things like maintenance, discovering things that should have broken before now but just broke, and re-learning old lessons thought already learned. One of those lessons is common sense about water, wind, and that stuff happens when you least expect it to happen. I say that of course, because I've become quite friendly with my PFD this past year and don't ever assume, that even though I'm a life-long surfer, sailor, and general water bug, that sometimes stuff can get dynamic real fast and catch us by surprise.
In the first "race" of our Yacht Club this season, I was enjoying my relaxing 3rd place position and you will note in the photo below how I've posted the Emergency Data Card provided by Boat US, just adjacent to the FM Radio. I didn't use it that day but I did need it that day. And every day I head out on the water I need it. Need and use, two different things. One is a requirement the other is an action.
You know, it's not safe to think that just because you're a small sailboat that only small calamities can occur. In the Transat Race just the other day, Cercle Vert, (click on those words to read the story), one of the 10 meter racers, was demasted after only 55 miles off the lighthouse at Penmarch ( see photo below ) on their way to Saint Bart. Stuff happens. A circumnavigating family had a motor failure and a critical illness of a child occur simultaneously off the Mexican coast and called for rescue. So, this just urges us to think smart about heading out this season. Think that it can happen to you and put in place those measures to mitigate the risks.
I recall many years ago sailing solo on Lake Erie in the Fall, brisk 15knot winds whipped across a granite water surface as I solo sailed an 18' Prindle Catamaran. I was flying across a bay area doing 3 mile runs back and forth with an eye out for gusts that might topple me over, yet the sailing was great. I was 25 years younger, more durable, in a wetsuit, enjoying the passion of sailing, when suddenly the starboard shroud pulled away with a loud bang, the cat fell to the dark water below and passion gave way to planning. My mind went into immediate drill mode, "get the mast aboard first, secure it, look for boaters,..." With a cold wind I knew the wind chill would soon eat away at my warmth and the paddle on the trampoline would be my last resort to keep warm and navigate to land. I wasn't but 600 meters from shore when a couple of gentlemen came near to assist. Things happen when you least expect them to. Just be ready with a plan.
On BaggyWrinkles this season, I am using a sort of checklist to make sure that even on a simple sailing plan, that I am ready for the unexpected. I think it makes for a more relaxed skipper.
|Looking South to the village of Penmarch, land's end for the Concarneau - St Barth Transat Race|