Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dodging the bullet

When I was in St. Pierre one of the other cruising boats was Veleda IV.  Judy and Aubry were great friends.  We did the trip to Longlade and Miquelon together.  We also did a lot of cruising things - like heading to the store food shopping and so forth.  Judy was the person who gave me my tutorial on using my Sailrite sewing machine.

Veleda IV left about 6 hours before me on its way across the Cabot Straight to Sydney.  You may remember that when I left St. Pierre I had to turn north to avoid heavy seas and went the entire way around Longlade and Miquelon to avoid the bad weather.  I then turned south because the forecast for the Cabot Straight and Banquereau was getting very ugly.  I then ran south for 24 hours to avoid the weather.  Even so it was not fun.  (Of course the next day I was becalmed - that's sailing!)

I received an email yesterday from Judy and Aubry.  It starts with "in our 9 years of cruising..."  I read on, expecting the worst.  Net of the story: they saw 40+ knot winds in high breaking seas.  Their dinghy brackets failed.  They continued to tow the dinghy but the outboard went into the water.  The outboard and dinghy brackets banging against the stern of Veleda IV damaged the stern.  And of course they were both seasick.  The good news is that they got into Sydney harbor without personal injury and are safe.  They are now waiting for an assessment of the damage and repairs.

My lesson from this is that no matter how long one has been cruising bad things can still happen and one has to be both prepared and take prudent steps to avoid unnecessary risk.  I was frustrated at being stuck in St. Pierre waiting out hurricane Earl.  With 12 hours of leaving I knew I should have waited.  Within three hours I considered and rejected going back into port - going back in was really the correct decision.  I had a very uncomfortable 24 hours of sailing but came thru without damage.  I consider myself very lucky.

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