Sunday, 21 September 2014

Worse things happen at sea

Ventilation is always good in a boat. Unplanned holes letting a draft in are, however, less welcome. This week a boat made a slight mistake which left them in the wrong part of the marina. By the time they realised it was a dead end and that there was barely enough room to turn, the wind and current had taken over the steering. The end result was the boat plunging its anchor into the side of Tarquilla and pin-balling off of three others. All this was watched in horror by an audience who were unable to get to the little boat to help in any way.

The outside of the hull

As we returned from the school run we were greeted by the news. The marina staff had already checked the vessels involved and the bouncing boat was safely moored in the correct place with two very shaken sailors onboard. From outside we could see the hole, from inside we could see daylight. The anchor had punched straight through three layers of plywood and an outer layer of fibreglass.
Inside the hull

Most importantly for us, the hole was a good three feet above the waterline. Also, due to a last minute change of plan, no-one was on board at the time and no-one was injured. The Skipper has had the saw and epoxy out again and having put in a temporary patch overnight he has repaired the hull. It took him a couple of days lying on the deck, dangling over the water but it is now fixed and Tarquilla has another scar telling the story.  

Dead end warning at the end of the pontoon

I’ve written before about how much I hate coming alongside and we have had our fair share of ending up in dead ends and small spaces. In both L’Aber W’rach and St Malo we had to be manoeuvred carefully and slowly by the marina work boat to get out of the space we had been put in. Boats are not like cars. You can’t just point it in the right direction and put the brakes on to stop. The currents under the water and the wind over the water are in control. You can use them to help you, you have to assess them and take them into account but they get the final word about which way you go.

Skippers note: My favourite current has to be the one which pushes you off the outer pontoon at Getxo (you have to be born there to be able to say it) Marina in Bilbao whether the tide is coming in or out so just when you line up and the crew throws the rope you’re six feet further away and they miss, so you start all over again and hope no-ones watching. We came in during that three hour section of the day the Spanish call lunchtime so no-one was watching, which is just as well. The worst was Hendaye, less said the better but we were glad we were insured. Currents are inexorable and if the underneath of your boat is the right shape then they will take charge if you’re not ready for them.


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