Exploring Random Hazards

Equanimity

Member II
**Warning, this post may be a bit intense, but important no less. I understand if you would rather not share**

After reading Keith Parcells post yesterday, it got me thinking about other potential hazards that exist out, in the blue water. More specifically, it got me thinking about truly RANDOM hazards. Things like floating shipping containers, or other debris lost and abandoned by the maritime trades.

In Christian William's video, he encountered what seemed to be the ghostly remains of an old lifeboat. I would imagine that was a pretty unsettling feeling for him. The likelihood of encountering something like that is incredibly low, but as we saw, it still happens.

My question to everyone is:

Have you ever encountered unexpected hazards or experienced a random collision? (Lobster pots count) - What happened and what was your recourse?

I understand this is a bit of a taboo topic...

lost-containers-were-filled-with-sulfuric-acid_1.jpg

Some supplemental reading:
https://www.yachtingworld.com/news/could-a-floating-shipping-container-sink-your-yacht-is-the-danger-to-sailors-real-or-imagined-107508
 
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Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
I don't know why taboo, any more than rocks, sandbars, mud, tree trunks and motorboats on autopilot.

Seems to me the risk varies locally. When I was growing up, NYC piers were rotting off and the water was full of what looked like telephone poles, plunging vertically. Yikes.

Now, if I recall, there are about 10,000 lost containers floating on or under the sea, worldwide, at any given time. But the new ones have GPS, so the companies can find them. Yikes again.

I wouldn't have hit that ghost boat. Odds are always on our side. More likely to run right into that channel marker we set the autopilot to head for.....
 

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
Nothing inappropriate about the subject...

Puget Sound is rife with driftwood. It's all over the place, from small sticks to entire trees floating in the water. Some are polite and horizontal and let you know they're in the water - some bob straight up and down like a wooden iceberg.

They're a good reminder that you do indeed always have to pay attention, even if you've got the autopilot pointed the right way and you won't have to adjust course for the next 2 hours. Failure to do so results in a sudden, alarming WHACK, WHACK, WHACK noise as something bangs against the hull, keel, and rudder, usually in that order. Best case you get startled and swear in front of your guests - worst case can get a lot worse.

Not that I'd know, of course...
 

Filkee

Member III
Hazards

At first I thought it was a hedgehog floating on a log but it turned out to be a water ski which I successfully avoided.
 

supersailor

Contributing Partner
Yup! I nailed one of those in my San Juan in the Gulf Islands The tree was just below the surface. It bobbed three or four times astern then settled down under the surface again. The big problem up here are the da-- crab pots. They are everywhere and generally badly marked. They are thrown out in narrow channels and marina enterances. Forget running at night.
 
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Equanimity

Member II
Taboo because I know it can be difficult to admit 'failure', to some degree. But that's operating on the assumption that, "to crash your boat is to fail as a captain/helmsman". Sounds like what you are suggesting is that boat damage is just a part of boat ownership and boat life. We take the risk and live or die with the consequences. Something I haven't experienced while sailing dinghies, with the risk factor being much lower.

Three weeks ago, a buddy of mine ran his beautiful new powerboat a ground off the coast of Maine. The cost to repair was just north of $40,000. Bye bye boat! The look on his face when he shared that with me was one I won't soon forget. Needless to say, I thought it was brave of him to admit his error - He "Looked away for just a second too long!" We quickly chased that discussion with a cold shot of vodka.

Would love to hear more on this topic.
 
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Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
I think there's a lot to be said about this, and am not quite sure where to start...

My first year of boat ownership's anniversary was last week. My first year of sailing AT ALL was a few months ago. I'm pretty inexperienced, but eager to get people out on my boat as often as possible. As such, I have no pretensions or ego telling me that I'm a better sailor than I am. I know I'm green, and I can't "front" at being more experienced than I am, because people know my history. I do take safety seriously, and safety extends beyond safe actions and decisions into responsible boat ownership - having the right tools at hand for emergencies, maintaining the boat to minimize the possibility of issues, and so on.

That said, sh*t happens to even the most responsible of sailors. You get distracted for a second, the chart is wrong, the weather changes suddenly, some other a-hole in the marina backs into you, you make a bad judgment call, literally anything could happen. And does happen. None of it has to mean you are a failure as a captain or helmsman, assuming the error was not your complete lack of care, attention, caution, or so on. But there are some things you just can't learn until you screw it up yourself, and probably more than once. I consider it part of my duty as a skipper to take other people's mistakes seriously, because maybe there's something I can learn from them to keep me from making that mistake myself.

I don't think it makes sense for skippers to rail on other skippers about their mistakes, except for some good-natured ribbing here and there, and only after the wound (or gelcoat, or wallet) has healed some. At the end of the day, if they've screwed it up, chances are we've screwed it up too, or someday will. There are sailors that have run aground and those that will. If there aren't some dock marks on your boat, you probably don't take it out enough. And so on. Most of the "real" sailors I know that aren't clouded by their own misguided egos are humble people, because we're all subjecting ourselves to huge forces of nature that we can't control. Every time we go out sailing might be the last time, if we're not careful.

"There but for the grace of God go I" is a beautiful saying that I often keep in mind when watching other people deal with misfortune.
 

Filkee

Member III
Running Your Pride Aground

I stupidly ran aground last summer. It was terrifying. I think I had an out of body experience looking down at the cockpit as I did a mortar and pestle routine on the well-charted and well-marked reef. Scared the heck out of me. Was convinced I was taking on water and panicked for a good 24 hours, enlisting the help of friends and scheduling an emergency haul out. In retrospect, I think I was just seeing backwash from the pumps and ultimately I did the repairs myself. But the worst part was the self-loathing. The whole thing was a management failure on my part and a great lesson learned for an invincible dinghy sailor. As I reluctantly revealed my failings to others around the moorings, I came to learn “if you haven’t run aground, you haven’t been around”. Last night. I had a dream that I handily avoided a reef.
 

Afrakes

Sustaining Member
You are not alone

I stupidly ran aground last summer. It was terrifying. I think I had an out of body experience looking down at the cockpit as I did a mortar and pestle routine on the well-charted and well-marked reef. Scared the heck out of me. Was convinced I was taking on water and panicked for a good 24 hours, enlisting the help of friends and scheduling an emergency haul out. In retrospect, I think I was just seeing backwash from the pumps and ultimately I did the repairs myself. But the worst part was the self-loathing. The whole thing was a management failure on my part and a great lesson learned for an invincible dinghy sailor. As I reluctantly revealed my failings to others around the moorings, I came to learn “if you haven’t run aground, you haven’t been around”. Last night. I had a dream that I handily avoided a reef.

Filkee, one of the most accomplished and competitive sailors on our "little" great lake has managed to do it at least twice. I wouldn't feel too bad. If you never go anywhere nothing bad can happen.
 

Rick R.

Contributing Partner
We picked up a crab pot offshore in the gulf. Middle of the night, rough weather on a CSY 43. On another delivery the starboard prop on my buddy’s Lagoon Cat picked up about 50 yards of old fishing net line.

Thankfully no containers or floaters.
 

Gary Holford

Member II
A couple years ago when Lake Huron was much lower i was chugging along at 5 knots when I smashed into the remains of some long lost underwater cribbing from the pioneer days. My E27 literally rose up about 8" and drove over the bastard. That was a scary couple seconds. Checked the bilge and continued on my way. And that wasn't her first sea monster. Sure pays to own a floating battleaxe.
 

Attachments

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Abrupt Stop stories

Ouch! :p

Our river has some concrete to run into during the fall lower-water season.
Setting a turning mark for racing too close to the Vancouver side can bring keels into contact with the underwater extension of some of the ship ways from the long-gone Kaiser yard.
https://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/kaiser-amp-oregon-shipyards/#.XXkMoC2ZOEI

You can see, dimly, the many launching 'ways' extending under the water. Luckily, boats contacting them are usually dodging current by hugging the shore and not going too fast when they stop with a Bump. (!)

Speaking of ocean hazards, I was crewing on a delivery off the Washington coast when we wrapped up a crab pot line in a prop. Water way too cold to jump in, knife in teeth like pirates in old movies, so the USCG arrived with a long pole with a blade on the end to free us, and then towed us in to LaPush, WA.

A diver unwound the line and we were OK. Spent a night there before proceeding south to Grays Harbor, and then on to Astoria.
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Cable Area

The Cable Area marked on the chart for Port Ludlow Bay, WA, is apparently teeming with unknown cable hazards. This is a possible abandoned phone cable, pictured hanging from my anchor after a recent stay. Also rumored to be under there is wire rope from the extensive logging operations of the past, which is a reasonable possibility. While there are no signs onshore in the bay that warn of electrical feed lines running underwater, there is the possibility of these being present also. The Port Ludlow marina staff told us that every year a couple people have to have their anchor retrieved by a diver.

This seven-conductor wire was apparently cut free some time ago and was no issue for our windlass. It was covered at one time with steel wire and probably cloth and rubber insulation for additional durability. Note the piece of timber also caught by the anchor.

20190827_063744-small.jpg
 

debonAir

Member III
One thing I really miss about my old centerboard... a light tap meant "time to pull the board up and pay attention". Now a light tap means "time to pull the boat and repair the ding in the lead, or worse".

Depth paranoia is a thing now.

I just hope I never do something super stupid like these (and I really hope that isn't the same J105 in the pictures!!)

IMG-20190824-WA0003.jpgIMG-20190824-WA0004.jpg
 

Equanimity

Member II
Haha that’s fantastic!

I was sailing on Boston Harbor last night and we encountered a giant telephone pole sized log with nails sticking out of it. It was definitely startling to encounter something like that in such a busy area, but like you guys suggested, it happens! Fortunately, I identified it several dozen feet ahead so we didn’t hit it.
 

supersailor

Contributing Partner
A couple of years ago a large Jeanneau hit a container about 250 miles off Neah Bay and it took the keel completely off. Admittidly Jeanneaus are not the best built but???

He did make it in under power and it stayed in the Port Angeles yard for about a year. The wind couldn't have been too heavy at the time of impact as the boat didn't turtle. It's amazing how much stuff is floating around out there!
 
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