September 21, 2014

How to sail your sailboat: putting your boat on the rocks with style.

 
    Sailing will set you free, it may change your life. But it's not all high highs. There are also the low lows. You are going to have to deal with the mishaps without losing your cool.

sailboat beached at low tide
Captain Curran trying to play it cool with a coffee mug.

     When choosing a place to anchor a boat. You are going to want to consult the tide table. And also consider how much anchor chain you have let out. As your swinging radius increases, the chances that you may swing over a shallow shelf at a low tide moment also increases. That's what happened to us here in the middle of nowhere in British Columbia.

sailboat lays on its side
The main cabin begins to lay on its side.

     At 4 am, we woke to the sound of the keel settling into the rocky Sea floor. As the tide dropped for the next 3 hours, the boat began its journey towards 'on its side.'

    So.. what does that mean to you, the Captain of the vessel. What’s the preparation for a boat that is going sideways. Shut off any plumbing that could introduce water into the boat: close the sea-cocks, secure the hatches, put your companionway door in place. This is key. If the boat takes on water when its laid on its side, then it may not right itself when the tide comes back in. The waters may rise but the boat will not, in which case you’ve lost your pleasure craft. 

     Throughout this process, there will be no comfort to be found inside the boat. One of the walls is about to become the floor and the other wall is about to become the ceiling. This means, things will start falling off the walls and breaking. Take anything off of a shelf that will shift during this transition.

    And then, make a big thermos of coffee – grab some food and walk off the boat. If you screw up bad enough, this should be done easily enough. Simply jump off the side of your boat into the dry mud. And then enjoy this moment that sailing has provided, this moment of reflection, of quiet. Of waiting for the next high tide.

sailboat beached in Canada
Strangers will gather around you as you wait for the tide to shift

     Be prepared for great interest from strangers as you stand beside your compromised vessel. They will want to be a part of the excitement. They will also want to get a read on you. 'Who would do something like this? Is he crazy? We should talk to him, he's probably embarrassed....'

Let them gather. You have made their morning interesting. Be proud of that!




 As the tide clambers back in, your boat will rise. This is a great thing to repeat in your head as the tide begins to shift. Sort of a mantra to encourage said action. 'As the tide come in, my boat will rise.'

And then just like that, the rising tide will lift your boat. And you will raise the sails and say goodbye to this particular bay. And you will never return to this particular bay. Ever.


Please follow the links below for the full 'How to Sail your Sailboat' series:
How to sail your sailboat: owning your cockpit.
How to sail your sailboat: climbing the mast
How to sail your sailboat: mixing a cocktail while underway. 
How to sail your sailboat: coming to terms with your slowly, sinking ship.

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