Monday, 18 June 2012

It's Anything Can Happen Day! Apparently.

                      "Bring hell from above!"
                                        -Billy Idol

          From the "WTF?" Files, I bring you our Saturday sail.  Yes, folks, it is Weirder Than Fiction.

         Saturday was shaping up to be a less-than-thrilling sailing day, but an absolutely spectacular day to be on the water- hot, hazy, humid.   .   Walking Finn down the Dock to take care of business, we spotted the first ducklings of the season, less than a week old:

After a leisurely brunch, we lit the iron spinnaker and SWMBO, Finn and I departed the Dock.  As we exited the harbour, we saw an ominous dark cloud on shore:

     Turns out it was a fire on a potato farm in Nixon, over 10 miles away.  A drive shed full of plastic potato bins went up in flames.  No one was injured, and it was extinguished within an hour, but it sure produced an impressive plume of smoke.

    Our timing was right to catch the noon bridge opening, and the wind was less than lacklustre, so we decided to cruise up the river to see what we could see.  The water level is lower than this time last season.  Anybody with a draft deeper than 6 feet is going to have a tough time getting much farther upstream than the Bridge Yachts yard.

     We turned around for the trip back just downstream of a docked Nonsuch.  Our depth was reading at 4',and  I was pretty sure Whiskeyjack drew less than the Nonsuch upstream, but I was feeling prudent.  I didn't want to come to an unplanned halt in front of an audience, and there were brunchers sitting at patio tables on both sides of the river.

    As we slowly returned downstream toward the lift bridge, we realized we were going to be a few minutes early for the next bridge opening.  The decision was made to cut back speed and just loaf with the current.   With speed reduced to about 2 knots, and the river narrowing, courtesy dictated that we move toward shore to allow faster mastless vessels passage.  The individual on the helm, who shall remain nameless, decided to give a fatbacked SeaRay a wider berth and moved closer to shore...

    ...and hit a tree.

   A live one.


    Remember that part about being prudent, and unplanned halts in front of an audience?  Yep, we did it.  Just downstream of the Port Dover Yacht Club.

Before easing closer to shore we checked the depth , and the shoreline for obstructions and deadheads, but didn't bother to look UP to see if there was any overhead obstruction.

Which there was.

By my on scene instantaneous estimation at least 77% , possibly as much as 93% if we calculate total square footage of foliage,of a shore-rooted tree hung out over the channel, right where we planned to be.
Right now.

   We stopped dead, with branches and leaves and bark and twigs and bugs and stuff raining down from the limbs entangled in the rigging.  The unnamed helmsperson calmly asked what to do and the unnamed person who was not on the helm  powered up the mighty single cylinder diesel and harnessed all 9 horsepower to drag us shamefacedly out of the tree we were hung up in...

... while the unnamed helmsperson swung the wheel hard to port to take us back upstream.

...  "What the hell, you want us to take another run at it?!!?", the unhelmed unnamed person asked.

   Within seconds we had Whiskeyjack sorted and back on course,albeit with forestry-evading deviation now calculated, and we could see the trail of arborial carnage left behind, as foliage dropped from the decks, rig and canvas into the water. A quick cursory inspection did not reveal any damage and no evidence of the incident remained aboard..

   Well, mostly.

   We  left the river , raised the main, unfurled the jib and loafed in the light air while laughing about our experience, and debriefing on how to ensure we don't repeat it.

    Upon returning to the Dock, I inspected the rig more closely for damage.  We got off easy.  Some leaves rermain stubbornly attached to the masthead:

  And our windex is now on a new angle.

   It hangs up on the VHF antenna slightly, but I'm not sure it is a big enough issue to worry about before winter haul-out.

   "Talk the Dock!"


  1. good story Jonesy

    lost my best penant the same way on the Norfolk Broads

    feel happy for the people in the sailing club

    nothing better than watching humiliation from the safety of club lawn with a cold beer in hand


  2. You ran asky?(as opposed to running aground).
    I ran aground in Molly's Gut(looks better than it sounds)last weekend while touring around with my Grandson.


  3. Happens here to almost every sailboat, every year, in the Dismal Swamp Canal part of the ICW. Welcome to the club, I guess.

  4. So much for, "No, I won't tell anyone sweetie!". LOL

    1. Hey, I said "No, I won't tell anyone YOU hit a tree, sweetie."


  5. It takes a special bit of seamanship to hit a tree while sailing.Way to be unique Whiskeyjack! :)And to think I've only ever plowed into the dock- so pedestrian, so boring. If you are going to have an oopsie, so much better to so it in a unique fashion because that earns you STYLE POINTS.

  6. Well a tree is better than a lift bridge. ;)