Tillerman on Propercourse >writes today: "Write a post on your blog about the worst mistake or most embarrassing moment you had while sailing". mmmh, he wants this "to serve as terrible warnings" - a very good idea, indeed. A pity, nobody had warned me about what happened to me in the following story, but would this have been possible for the incident which I had ran into?
Some years ago, being on a cruise with my 36 footer in the Baltic Sea with girlfriend, the 5 year old boy and the dog, sun is shining, just a light breeze from the back and only the main up. There is a shallow marker at a corner of an island which we want to round, 1,5 miles outside. Girlfriend reading the map and pointing towards the marker. Some Danes take an inside route, which I also did during a regatta some years ago. "Well, you know, I know this area..."
We are not heeling at all. Suddenly we are running aground. The boat shakes, the boy (his first trip) feels the boat bumbing on the ground. The dog barks. Boy starts crying, dog goes crazy. Girlfriend ash white. We have to take the main down. Immediately. I push the dog down below, girl holds son and the main drops down on the 5,20m long boom. Dog is bleeding on his paw and wants out. Starting the engine, reverse. No reaction. Waving with rope to boats passing close. No reaction. Someone yells: "Heel that thing" - he cannot know that we have a winged keel. Draft 2m´s and we are sitting on these bloody wings. Heeling increases the draft. Oh, could someone please pass by and throw a little wave?? Someone up there must have heart it. A small passenger ship in the distance sends some gentle waves... the boat rises from the ground, full reverse, touches just a little at the trough and takes of with the next one. Slowly out of here. Backwards in the same direction were we came from. Planned destination cancelled. Straight home. The little one, since than, does not want to step onboard again. He has felt emotionally the wrong aggregate state of the boat.
The boat did not carry any damage but a fortnight later my charterer asked me if I knew a new route around that cape. "Oh, well no. I cannot recommend this way. Please stay out if you round that corner". Bloody me, I forgot to delete the course lines in the Garmin...