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Got any storm stories?


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I was about 12 or 13 at the time, I think.

I was sailing in a fleet of about 6 or 7 sabots when the sky turned black. It was near the end of the race, only 1 other boat was with me - we were all headed for the finish, headed west and approaching the Grafton bridge, probably only 200m from home. The other boats were further behind and had abandoned and were already on the bank. I saw the chop getting big, and the wind was coming on strong, and sabots have a flat nose that just does not like to go through swell let alone when sailing high. I had already figured we were not going to make it but I wasnt prepared for what happened next.

Corey, the fella in the other sabot, called out that we were in trouble. I was probably ahead of him by a mast length and he was only a mast length to my port. The wind jumped up in 2 steps, first, a fresh hit in the face and a bit of heavy rain. I'd been slightly distracted looking at corey and it cost me a little speed, and then I saw him about to capsize, and got more distracted, so when i turned back to my boat to settle myself i'd turned too high and stopped.

So now i'm in irons and corey is barely keeping his boat upright, water must have been coming in on the far side, and the BANG a massive wall of wind and heavy rain hit us both. My boat turned but I had unsheeted and was ok for a moment but Corey's was horizontal. His boat suddenly just span in a circle, 270 degrees mast ripping through the air, and smashed my shroud, unmasting me and nearly taking my head off! so now he's in the water and i'm sitting in a sabot with no mast, sail in the water but upright, being thrown around in waves a meter high (felt that big, sabots can have that effect, and they are even worse with no mast, it turns out.)

We rode out the storm and Ken Robson, our commodore, eventually got to us with the rescue boat. He put corey in the tinny, tied our boats to the back and towed us home, and because I had pulled my centreboard, I had this fountain of water coming up the centreboard case, filling my boat slowly, but more importantly - teasing mullet to jump at my boat. When we got to shore, I had no mast, but a 32cm long mullet and a grin from ear to ear!

I never forgave Corey for throwing the fish back LOL

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I was about 22 23, and young and full of come-on i reckon

'twas early in the week, they call it stormy monday but tuesdays just as bad; and, a friend had given me a cherub (12' skiff) recently

yo ho went down to the river with me mate, paul

it was grey, foreboding and pretty windy

unusually it was foggy too, and, the water in the river is certainly colder than the ocean and it was freezing

visibilty was pretty grim

anyway off we trucked from the foreshore

me trying to look like i knew what i was doin' with a nonchalance born of recklessness

about mid river the centreboard popped out and departed our esteemed company

knowbody had told me that you're supposed to tie it off..

with the grace of a gazelle i leapt overboard to retrieve it

that is, as me dear buddy took off like a shot, m'sail full needing trimming, with him aboard - and him clueless how to sail the thing

naturally i swum after him like a graceful dolphin having a good day on coke

he wasn't lookin' very happy, me mate, as he dissapeared into the gloom and nether regions 'though

crikey and blast the flamin' centreboard was then nowhere to be seen either..

i had on a huge man from snowy river jobby waterproof jacket

no lifejacket

cripes the water was cold..

couldn't i perceive the shore to swim to

floated around with the elegance of a freezing lost whale for a time

i was goin 'down for the count me mateys for sure

i could see a little article in the paper, page 5, and probably me ol mum missin' me

a ferry went past in the far gloom; but i was weighted down by jacket, extremely cold, freaking out man..

[couldn't see at the time the ferry was a bearing to swim off as it was either up or down river bound]

so, down i was most certainly bound, yep real down and out too fellas

sinking fast

glory be..

out of the gloom came a small yacht, yeeha, started yelling my box out and like heart rendering pleas and cries..

they tacked!

fished me out of the water

my brown man from snowy river jacket matching the drab brown river full of jellies in great style of course

they ever so kindly wrapped me up in a space blanket aboard and took me to hospital, suffering from exposure

a bloke crewing thought it was a seagull screeching, and, thought best to come and have a look

just a random act of kindness for him maybe but without doubt he saved my life

Thank you, wherever you now are.

me mate miracously made it to shore upright somehow a few miles down near the narrows bridge

i always hope and trust my crew learn to make the best of a situation in their voyages with me..

funny thing but we became rabid spearfishers very soon later, and, y'all that's another tail


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In the mid 80's as a cat newbie I was sailing my Mari solo on Lake Macquarie from Valentine south to Belmont and back. I turned back as soon as I saw there was black on the horizon as a SW front came roaring through. I went from a 5-10 knot south easterly to dead calm to sudden, massive SW gusts, zero visibility and the tops of the waves blown off. The Mari was blasting downwind as I was trying to keep my weight back, slow down, reduce sail area, jib just tight enough to stop it flapping and (hopefully) give some lift to keep the bows from burying. I was being kicked in the bum every wave we hit and bashed by rain, hail and spray. The Mari would punch through sets of bunched up waves before we'd plunge into a trough and rollercoaster up and through the next wave. I eased the main at first to try to slow down but the sail bent backwards around the shrouds and the gusts would drive the bows under so I had to sheet in to regain some control. I had the main in as tight as I could get it and raised the traveller near the centreline while heading as deep as I dared. What took me three hours to cover from journey start we did in about 15 minutes. I was desperately working to stop crashing into the backs of waves and reduce boat speed but some of the gusts just rammed us rocking and rolling through the water. I don't know how we didn't pitchpole but while the bows went down in the gusts, they thankfully came up every time. It was good luck rather than skill. As I sail with glasses I couldn't see for spray and had to turn my head to get a breath. We got to where I had to jibe to get back to my launching point and I whipped the rudders over after surfing down a wave, tossed the main and scuttled over to starboard. Luckily we didn't go over and it was sheltered close to shore so I managed to turn around before hitting bottom. Totally knackered I dragged the cat ashore and had a grateful smoke to settle the nerves. Pulling the cat onto the trailer I had to open the bungs as I found buckets of water in each hull when normally I'd get half a litre max. I had to re-rivet tramp and jib tracks, replace shredded mainsheet and jib ropes, twisted shackles and stuffed mainsheet blocks. In later sailing the dolphin striker cable snapped and the front beam bent in half, the starboard chainplate pulled out, one rudder snapped and the starboard hull tore free at the rear beam bolts. I think i was very lucky to survive the wild ride in one piece.

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Wow guys some real corkers there.

I remember one time when a friend took me out on her laser, must have only been one of my first times out, a bit of a blow was up, we went under the grafton bridge and the boat gybed unexpectedly, twice. I think the bridge was causing wind eddies. She also wore glasses and the boom smacked her in the face on the second swing, smashed them. She said she couldnt see the boom coming because of the water on the lenses, but as i told her, seeing was one thing, it was too fast to duck anyway...

It broke her nose! But as she always said, her nose really did look better afterwards, seriously, it did!

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We get some ripper shows here, but plenty of warning. I did get caught out about 2 years ago about 12nm from the club, I was in the trailer bucket. Heard the warnings on the ABC and got a call on the VHF from a few concerned individuals, we were battened down with no sail, storm boards in and watching the bom radar. As the front approached it was eery, as described calm as but you could see the water a mile ahead was white for about 20 feet up from the surface and you could hear the noise. When it hit the biggest concern was an 8m lightning conductor stuck above us, turned all the electrics off and crossed fingers and prayed to my various gods. The strikes around us were incredible and the thunder was like a very close cannon, I witnessed that once when I sailed the wrong side of the Endeavour replica when it saluted the Port of Hobart. Right in the middle of the maelstrom the bloody OB quit, something it's never done before or since. We were struggling to get a storm jib up when another TS from the club appeared under motor, they'd got caught out and broached with only a jib up, broke their rudder and were running with it to shelter in a nearby bay where another boat was riding it out. We towed in, by the time we sorted the shit out the storm had passed and it was back to a sunny day, weird.

I've been caught a few times in a "Big End First" seabreeze on the Derwent. Once in a Pacer and twice in an NS14. The second time in the northy the fleet was pummelled, one lass smashed her leg when she got it caught between the upturned boat and one of the piles of the Tasman Bridge. We were screaming on a reach, the fastest I've ever been in an NS, smiling from ear to ear when the rudder blade snapped. Didn't even know what was happening, one second fun the next fu*k. Ended up on the shore, secured the boat and started the long lonely walk of shame. When we got back to the club it was chaos with the Police launch as well as a couple of private cruisers involved in various rescues.

The only time I've been really shit scared was West Coast of Tas in a 43ft cray boat, 30ft seas and 75knt gusts. We had a 40ft yacht shadowing us running for shelter, I was losing the top of his mast in the troughs. Skipper was very concerned about broaching the boat and having the yacht fall on us, although at the time I was terrified and completely unaware of that threat, I was completely convinced I was going to die. How the blokes in the 98 S2H got thru that I'm stuffed if I know.

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