Preview: Learning From Experience; My Biggest Disaster and What It Taught Me

With little boats you don’t tend to have disasters; you have recoveries. My capsizes are too many to recall, but I’ve recovered from all of them. Grace under pressure is the mantra.

 This mantra models up to bigger boats, as well. For example, when racing in a smoky sou’wester on Buzzards Bay abord the swing-keeler RED HERRING (the last wooden boat that Eric Goetz built), we had the big asymmetrical spinnaker up and maybe heated things up too much. The backstay let go at the top of the mast and the entire rig went over the bow—stately and slowly. So now, in a knobbly sea, we had a tangle of mast, sails, and rigging ahead of the boat. Our first goal was not to let the mast punch through the hull; our second was to salvage as much as we could. Our crew of experienced sailors solved the problem shortly with never a shout or even a raised voice. I don’t remember the exact sequence, but it was generally to get the mast and its attached sails parallel to the boat—

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3 Responses So Far to “Learning From Experience; My Biggest Disaster and What It Taught Me

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    Charles Zimmermann says:

    Recoveries are in many ways more interesting than disasters. I have never had a broken mast although I once had a broken spreader and I had to take the wind out of the sails immediately. The spreader was replaced and the source of the problem resolved. I’m sure there are some truly great recovery stories – like the time all of the electronic navigation instruments failed on Dorade at the beginning of the Transpac.

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    Geoff Kerr says:

    I’ve always considered the most romantic nautical command to be: “Cut away that wreckage”! That’s when you know you’ve been somewhere!

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    James Robinson says:

    Graphic, clear,and relaxing as I consider the potential catastrophe I’ve never had to experience. I’m ready!