It’s been awhile since I posted something so I’ve got quite a bit to catch everyone up on. One of the funniest stories (funny as in so stupid so don’t try it sort of way) was when my friend Elie asked me to go sailing with him on his Hobie 16 one day after work. If you have been browsing my flickr albums lately you would have seen the photos we took of this trip.
Elie called me about going sailing on his Hobie one day after work since I wasn’t doing anything else, I gladly agreed. He has his Hobie dry stored right next to mine in the yard so I helped him get it all rigged up and towed to the ramp. By the time we got out there It was blowing pretty hard. A a matter of fact, the big scrolling LED sign above the parking permit vending machine read big and bright: “Small Craft Advisory”.
Well, it’s not that we don’t have common sense. As a matter of fact, we decided to take more precaution because of it. We were just gonna sail in the harbor anyways an also we got into our wet suits instead of just t-shirts and trunks. We were looking for a bit of excitement anyways but we got more than we bargained for…
Getting the boat launched and ready was quite an ordeal. It was blowing so hard that we had a tough time just getting the boat ready. I had to stand dockside to keep the boat downwind from the dock but also be able to release and jump on board. It took awhile to get it ready and we even joked about me not having time to get on the trampoline as the winds would blow the boat right off the dock the second I untied it. Well, that’s exactly what happened. In fact the boat started to sail away from me as soon as I untied it from the cleat. It was pulling so hard that I had to let go. That means Elie was on his own sailing off into the distance.
The setup at Ventura harbor is that the launch ramp is in a little cove directly down wind from the prevailing northwest. If you don’t have axillary power you will need to sail upwind to get in the open. It is tougher that it sounds because there is not much room to build enough speed to tack around once you get going. Elie ended up getting pretty close the rocks and had to jump off and manually turn the boat into its new tack to get going.
There I was in my wet suit on the dock of the launch ramp watching him sail away into the harbor channel. He was doing fine for a couple of tacks and as he got into his 4th or 5th tack, I saw one of the hulls lift out of the water. Apparently he froze for a second and didn’t ease the main quickly enough to get the hull to come back down. The boat capsizes instantly. He flies off the tramp and ends up in the water. I am of no use and could only watch from the dock. He tries to right the boat but the winds were too strong and he just can’t get enough leverage to get the boat upright again by himself. Worst of all, the tramp begins to act as a sail and it started pushing him towards the rocks again…
The 2 guys on jetskis were just coming in and decided to cruise by to see the “idiot sailor”. At this point I had decided to jump off the dock and started to swim towards the Hobie to see what I can do to help. It took me way longer than I expected to get there. The wind and current made it harder for me to reach the boat. By the time I got there one of the jetski guys had started to try and two him away from the rocks.
When I got on the boat and tried to help him right it the jetski guy lost grip of the line and now we were again drifting into the rocks. Luckly the harbor patrol had been notified and had sent a boat to get us out of the situation. The harbor patrol boat tossed us a line and we tied it to the hull and with a push of the throttle we splashed into the water as the boat rolled back upright once again.
With both of us on board we were able to manage the weight distribution a little better but the winds still had not slowed even with the sun quickly setting. We decided to called it a day and managed to get back to the launch ramp without anymore mishaps.
It was probably more entertaining to me than dangerous but no accidents related to boats should be taken lightly. I think we learn a little lesson and will think twice about sailing in a SCA with the hobie again…