A Mooring charter boat sank in the BVI last week. Supposedly everyone (except the boat) was rescued. While this story shouldn’t keep anybody from sailing, you should stop and think for a minute. In sailing, mistakes are often very embarrassing and very expensive, so you should learn from others’ mistakes as much as possible! This boat most likely sank because it had too much sail up for the weather. Here’s some pictures of it earlier in that same day. They are keeled way over. While that might be fun (for some of your crew), the boat would actually sail faster if they reefed the sails.
Things to consider?
- Always check the weather report before you start sailing. I admit, this is easy to skip, but it’s vital. Squalls were predicted for the day this boat sank.
- If you are uncomfortable, reef your sails. Even take them down. I’ve taken them down when the weather got to be too much for me or my crew. Motoring around when you’ve got plenty of wind is slightly embarrassing but better than having sick crew or sinking your boat!
- Batten the hatches when you’re sailing – it doesn’t matter how hot people are getting. If your boat rolls, you want those hatches closed because chances are it’ll right itself. If water starts flowing in them …
- When all else fails and you think you are about to roll, release the sheets! I’ve never done this in bad weather on a big boat, so I’m not sure how you’d recover. It’s likely your sails would get damaged, but that’s better than losing the whole boat to the bottom of the ocean.
Also a word of warning for those catamaran sailors from my hobie cat days. Cats roll really fast. There’s a minute when you’re keeled over and sailing fast and the next your pitching over. If I was sailing a large cat that started to keel much, I’d get some sail down fast!
And the best advice? Keep learning. People that sail love talking about sailing and they are always learning from others’ stories. Remember, mistakes in sailing are expensive, so learn free from others’ mistakes! Oh, and sail. The only way to learn how to sail is to sail!