21 February 2008

Tricky Situation

I need to get this off my chest: I'm pretty sure I was wrong in this situation. But, for the life of me, I can't figure what I would have done differently.

Last Sunday, I took a family of non-sailors out on a day that turned out to be windier than forecast. We had a good time but after ~3 hours we were all pretty tired. So we were going to drop sails and motor in. About 1/4 mile from the breakwater, I planned our moves. I was going to let that J24 go by, head up into the wind behind him, drop the jib, drop the main and head on in.

All went to plan. The J24 passed to starboard, I counted to 3 and then headed up into the wind. I jumped over to the halyards, dropped the jib, ran up onto the foredeck to gather, jumped back into the cockpit, released the main halyard, leaped up to the mast to help it down. During this time the engine was idling.

As I was ready to catapult myself back into the cockpit, I looked to my left and "what the?" the J24 was back and headed right at us. Of course they were. They were retrieving their invisible milk carton for a man overboard drill. How the heck was I supposed to know about that? They were shooting me dirty looks and were clearly on starboard and in the right, I had to hustle back to the cockpit to put us in gear and get the heck out of the way.

I like to think that if it had been a person they might have yelled to me as I passed or that my cursory look-around before dropping sails would have spotted a full sized person. I was in the wrong but not sure how I possibly could have known all this before it happened.

Dropping sails only takes about 90 seconds, I just am not sure how I could have foreseen this J24 coming back at me in those 90 seconds. Maybe their MOB milk jug could be bright orange or something.

No point to this post just curious if anyone else can think what I should have done other than scour the seas looking for milk jugs prior to dropping sails.


Anonymous said...

I am a bit rusty of this but given that you were maneuvering with difficulty it sounds like you might have been in the right.

They could argue that you should not have made the maneuver till they were well clear but it sounds like they fell off towards you after you had been overtaken (where you had rights over them)

Honestly doing a MOB drill when other boats are close by was bloody stupid.

EVK4 said...

I'm pretty sure he did a figure-8. I cleared his stern and he did the figure-8 after that.

I never saw them drop anything off the side but probably should have seen it when heading up.

I also could have looked around during that 90 seconds but I thought I was all alone out there. And I would have been if it weren't for those darned kids.

Zen said...

We do MOB drills all the time in the Estuary. Never the dirty looks...mistakes happen.

Joe said...

The pitfalls of sailing with non-sailors. Next time you should train someone to be a look out.

EVK4 said...

Me: "if you see a milk jug, yell really loudly"

Newbie sailor: "never invite me again"

Good point though, they might have seen the J24 sooner.

WeSailFurther said...

they could have yelled to you, at any point in the evolution, that they were doing a drill. If there were really a man in the water would they have remained silent and shot dirty looks? No way, they'd be screaming for help, assistance, extra pairs of eyes, etc...

Litoralis said...

Sounds like it was not your fault, but it's hard to tell without more information or a diagram. If the J24 was going to make strange and unpredictable maneuvers they probably should have been prepared to avoid other boats.
The other vessel was overtaking and then immediately thereafter you were restricted in your ability to maneuver.

A sailing vessel underway shall keep out of the way of:
1. a vessel not under command;
2. a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver;

Next time just yell something about COLREGS Rule 18(b).

EVK4 said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I will now sail around interfering with the sailing school with impunity and a certain blog-inspired arrogance. Pesky J24s.

O Docker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Captain John said...

Ahh, just forgetaboutit.

OCSC does these drills as a part of their classes. Anything on the water is an obstruction. You can't maneuver to drop sails and be anything but an obstruction in this circumstance.

So you did nothing wrong, and they just have to deal with it.

It it were a real MOB, you'd have been helping them recover the person in no time.

By the way, the 'milk carton' is called 'BOB', cause his job at OCSC is to be tossed overboard and bob around until the student gets him back.