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So September last year I got a little El Toro from some one in my modeling club. It's been a fun little boat and I'm learning a lot. A couple days ago I thought it might be fun to get my boys out on it and do some fishing. We had a pretty brisk brease and we zipped along pretty fast. It wasn't as slow going as my last few sailing trips. Well we tried fishing but gave it up after one pole fell in the water.

By that point my boys were tired of being in the boat so I droped them off with the admiral on shore. The wind was still nice so I took off sailing again. I sped around all over the lake having a good time when the wind picked up even more. With in minutes the sky got dark and waves started forming. At this point I thought maybe it was time to bring her in.

I happened to be down wind of the dock and between the waves pushing me one way and the wind pusHong the other I didn't make much progress. Well the wind picked up even more and at this point I was worried I'd lose the whole boat so pulled in the sail and brought in the rudder and began rowing back to the dock. This didn't work either because of the waves.

So after fighting nature for a bit I concluded it wasnt worth the battle and I started paddling with the waves. Have to admit it was pretty worrisome trying to ride waves at a good angle with out tipping over as well. Some how I managed to bring her in still intact and while I was almost a half mile from the docks I was closer to my car. So it all worked out.

Any one else have any sailing stories?

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I know the feeling, in fact you did a lot better than I did! We got a little 13' Chinook years ago, never sailed before, but wanted to see if what I'd learned from 20+ years of model building would lend itself to actually sailing. Not to mention that it certainly would help my modeling, by actually understanding exactly what each line did and how it acted in the real world. A local guy who made part of his living from buying older, incomplete small sailboats and fixing them up for sale, knew about my modeling offered to take me out to "teach me the ropes". We did 3 or 4 sailing lessons, which was OK, but all of them were with winds not exceeding five miles and hour. So, when I decided to try my luck solo, I stupidly decided to go on a very windy day, 20 mph winds no less. Not to mention the wind was blowing straight at the launching ramp, which meant I spent a good deal of time learning how to claw off a lee shore. My smarter better half decided solo meant SOLO, and staying on the beach reading a book, kept asking if I'd had enough! <G>


Well, I got off the shore and had a ball zooming around the lake, making sharper and sharper turns when tacking. I was kneeling in the waist, and at some point noticed that I was kneeling in about six inches of water?? Hmmmmmm, started paying more attention and saw that at points I was burying the opposite side of the bulwarks for a second each time I tacked. Well, I tried tacking a bit too sharply, and the boat started going over. No problem I thought, I am wearing a life vest, know how to swim well, and just stuck by the boat. Figured it would tip on it's side, and I'd swing the mast head into the wind, and stand on the steel drop keel to get the wind under the main sail, and bring her upright. No, the boat turned a complete turtle on me, and as it was finishing the  over turn I saw the steel drop keel slide out of it's well and drop to the bottom of the lake.


Fortunately, a nearby fishing lad saw what happened and brought his boat over to me, and offered to take me and the overturned boat to shore. Great idea, except I had a 22' high mast now sticking straight down into the water. Took me about fifteen minutes of clinging to the side of his boat while i pondered, and it finally hit me, my boat has to be taken to the lake on a trailer, so the mast has to be swung down and backwards, much like a ship in bottle model mast, by releasing the fore stay. So, I uncliped the stay at the bow, and then tried to climb into the tow boat. That went about as well as the sail, my hand slipped and my ribs came down on the boat side full force. Didn't break any, but cracked two of them.


Ended up OK though, got the boat into shallow water and flipped it up and got it onto the trailer and home again. We sailed that boat together for five or six years, and had a lot of fun in it. Four years ago we found a 16' Rebel boat at an auction for such a ridiculous price we had to get it and sail that now. We are by no means top notch sailors, we only go out with winds in the 5-10 or so mph's, but still have a lot of fun.


Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

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A Tale of the Windfall of Ocracoke


Twas 'bout a decade back when I was out on Ocracoke Island.  Has been part of the sojourn after doing the sib-demo at the Beaufort Maritime Museum.

Captain Rob Temple of the ol' two-masted , 55-ft on deck, schooner Windfall had asked me to help crew on a sunset cruise.  Rob sails in Blackbeard's wake.  A noted rumgagger...spinning yarns that have some base in history, though otherwise...just a good tale.   With 20 passengers for the sunset cruise, we left Silver Lake Harbor with about 15-18 knot winds. 


After clearing the habor ditch channel and getting out into the Palmico Sound, which took about 3 of his tales, he asked if anyone wanted to take the wheel.  Knowing his public relations and wanting repeat customers, Rob often invites folks to handle the Windfall.  Tis a great photo op as well.


Up steps a lad...about 11 years old...clad in pirate tricone hat, eye patch, and red sash about his waist.  Capt'n Rob directs him to the helm where the lad grabs the spokes.   Starboard tack with a freshing breeze off the Atlantic.   Foreseeing a need to adjust course for the increasing winds, Capt'n Rob tells the lad to turn the wheel to the left.  The youth raised his arm and spun the wheel with all his weight.   Twas a sudden hard port turn that sent booms crashing to the other side and passengers clammering for a foothold.   Rob grabbed the wheel while I quickly moved to unbelayed the sheets. 


With the lad's photo op completed, his parents returned him to their spot at the forward hatch.  I passed out drinks for those who wanted.  Returning to the helm where Capt'n Rob was inspecting the wheel, we planned two more tacks in the Sound then to head back.


Took Rob about a quarter of my Pyrat Rum bottle to settle down back in port.  With each swig, he mentioned something about "that darn kid!"

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Thanks John. I only did better because I had a smaller boat. My El Toro is only 8 feet and a draft of about 3 or four inches. Pull the keel up and she'll dock just about anywhere. One of these days I'll get a bigger boat. Then I'll likely do what you do. Keep it in the calm winds.

Chaussure I agree Gwyl could probably teach us a thing or two.

Jim that's a great story. I think a cruse like that would be a lot of fun. If I ever take one I'll be sure to hold on if the ever let a pirate kid at the helm. Funny thing is I can see my two boys being that kid.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Those are some great stories!  


I think Daniel has sailed on my lake years ago as a scout???


For me, I remember the first sailboat I had was a Lido 14.  One day after crewing on a larger boat in a regatta, Me and three other crew members took the Lido out in winds that we probably shouldn't be sailing in.  Well, after tacking to and fro for a while, a gust caught us and we lost the mast!  We had to be pulled back to the marina.  We felt like a puppy with it's tail between it's legs!  I had the rigging replaced and we sailed that boat off and on for years as our kids were growing up.



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  • 2 years later...

Thank goodness I'm not the only one. About 25 years ago I rented a farm house on a beautiful inland lake . The lake is about 1/4 mile X 1/2 mile around. I have grown  up around power boats my whole life. Dad was plant manager and chief engineer for Chris Craft in late 60s early 70s. Grandfather was commodore of the Windsor Yacht Club in the 1940s. I've always been fascinated by sailing but had never done any. I bought a 16 foot Hobie catamaran and thought, "how hard can it be?" Of course pre-internet, and with no sailing reference I boldly embarked on my own. It was morning, mid week when no one else was on the lake. The wind was brisk at about 15 knots. About 2 minutes into my voyage I'm lifting a hull up out of the water, and back down a couple times. The big problem here is having no clue what I was doing, ...the mainsheet was cleated. So.... up, up, up, and over I go right in the middle of the lake. She turned turtle on me and I wore myself out trying to right her to no avail. so I just sat on her for 2 and a half hours until she drifted close enough to shore to swim some. Once I got to shore, I grabbed the top of the mast to turn her over and promptly unstepped the mast. The hull flopped upside down on top of this tangled mess of rigging etc. 4 hours later I managed to get her reasonably put together enough to limp home. The next day I ordered a book on "how to sail".

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Long, long ago, in the summer of '76, as I had just finished my RN Artificer apprenticeship, I was volunteered to crew a Bosun Dinghy  in the annual 'Engineers Regatta' where RN Engineers from different RN Training Establishments gathered to display their collective lack of seamanship in Portsmouth Harbour.

We were launching the thing on  a hard on the Gosport side, which entailed getting it off the trailer into the water (no problem) , stepping the mast and rigging it. The mast was swung upright, and for some reason that still escapes me, I was required to hold the bow (chest deep) while the 'skipper' did up shackles etc.

The next thing I know is that I am being pulled out into the harbour by 'something' that was gripping me by the neck. I couldn't breathe or shout, and things were turning black when there was a lot of shouting (involving some exceptionally colourful language), hands grabbed me, the 'something' was unwound, and I was pulled gasping into the rescue boat. I got my wind back, discovered what had happened and joined in the use of the colourful language.

What had happened was this; two members of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS), (now fully integrated into the RN) had finished rigging their Bosun next to us and set sail. I will say nothing sexist about it being a good idea to have a look round, check things are secure and ship shape before casting off, however none of this was done as they left a rope trailing which wrapped around my neck and shanghied me as unwilling 'crew', or in this case as a sea anchor, the effect of which was unnoticed by the WRNS until the safety boat crew, alerted by my skipper, turned up to the rescue. They were towed back to the hard and told never to darken the sea again. I was told to get back in the Bosun and race - and by the use of a bit of gamesmanship involving not doing a penalty 360 that wasn't spotted we came third.

Never sailed since.


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