CapnRehab in a collision at sea!

I am so dreadfully behind in all that’s happened.  There is just no way I’m going to get it all into this blog.  Although this happened two weeks ago, I feel like I just have to write about it.

On May 12, I took out the club Catalina Capri to watch the BCYC Bikini Cup race.  The big sailboats were tearing around Boca Ciega Bay and we were doing our best to stay out of the way.  Actually, we did stay out of the way.  They are big boats, we’re a little boat, it’s a big bay – you do the math.  It was easy.  I took my son Alex (of sunfish moving fame) and at the last minute invited J. along.

We had a great time and a little before the race was over we headed back in as J. had some after race cooking responsibilities to take care of.  You know, I’m never sure if this is an eating and drinking club that sails a little, or a sailing club that eats and drinks a lot.  Actually, I think our club byline is that we’re a drinking club with a sailing problem.  Anyways, I digress…

Partway through the sail I let J. take over because it’s nice to let other people sail, and I’m a nice guy.  So he starts taking us in.

As we’re heading back to port, we are going almost directly up wind.  This means as a sailboat with no motor, we have to tack. and tack, and tack.  Back and forth as we work our way back to the dock.  In the picture below, we are the red line.  We’re coming up from the bottom towards the dock at the top.

BCYC Sail Collision 1

BCYC Sail Collision 1

You may have noticed a yellow line in the picture.  That is a motor boat that came up behind us.  There is NO WAY they didn’t see what we were doing going BACK AND FORTH, OVER AND OVER!

So they come roaring up till the get to the no wake marker.  It is on the two posts you can see right at the tip of the wind arrow.  Then they idle without a wake like good little motor boaters.  They are still going faster than us.  As they get to the end of the little yellow line, we are almost to the end of our little red line STILL GOING BACK AND FORTH!  We are headed for a collision, but the husband on the boat jumps up, grabs the controls from his wife, and in a heroic effort, jams the gear into reverse with a VROOOM, WHMMMMM, stops their boat and keeps it from running into us.  That was a little dramatic of him, but then he yells out “SORRY ABOUT MY WIFE, SHE DOESN”T  KNOW ABOUT SAILBOATS TACKING EVEN THOUGH SHE GREW UP WITH ONE”.

I thought that was very rude of him towards his wife, but at least he didn’t let us collide.  We go back to tacking, because we’re doing it about every 15 seconds.  Keeps us kind of busy.  We go a few more feet towards the left wall, then tack to the right and suddenly, THEY ARE RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!

BCYC Sail Collision2

BCYC Sail Collision2

While we were absorbed with not running into the left wall, they came around us  (at idle speed) and got right in our way.  Guess what?  We ran into them.  Not once, but twice.  We bumped them (T-bone style), veered a little left, but the wind gusted and swung the bow right back and bumped them again.

I admit, I was a little startled.  So startled, I laughed.  Not because it was funny, but because I couldn’t believe they were such a dumba** to put themselves in such a position.  Well, I guess I shouldn’t have done that, because another guy on the boat started yelling and saying I wouldn’t think it was so funny if there was any damage to his boat and made a big show of checking the side to see if there was any.

They never stopped.

They never asked if anyone was hurt.

They just kept on motoring back to their marina.

They violated so many rules of the road, it just isn’t funny.

  • First, they saw us for heavens sake!  They knew we were tacking and had limited manueverability.
  • Second, vessels under sail are the “stand on” vessels when dealing with small motor boats.  Motor boats are “Give way” vessels.
  • Third, an overtaking vessel must stay clear of any vessels they overtake.  (Overtaking are “give way” vessels)
  • Forth, you must stop and offer assistance in any maritime accident
  • Fifth, they’re just dumba**es.

Actually someone on shore hollered out to see if anyone was hurt.  And we were fine.  It was a low speed collision and there was no damage to our boat.

Later, I remembered that the collision regulations (collregs) say there is no right of way, and that everyone involved in a collision is in some way responsible.  So I got to thinking, “what was our responsibility”?

I guess our skipper should have been looking around and been aware that the other boat was not staying back.  Even if he didn’t do that, he might have been able to turn back into the wind and stopped his forward motion.  I’m not exactly sure how much room he had, because it seemed like as soon as we turned, we ran into them pretty quick.  I think there might have been some room.

There is no doubt J. was startled.  Maybe didn’t react as quickly as he should have, but that’s armchair quarterbacking at its best.

Bottom line – be careful out there.  You’re surrounded by…. well, you fill in the blank.


Boating Safety Class #11 – FINAL CLASS – Knots

Finally done with  Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety class.

U S Coast Guard Auxiliary

U S Coast Guard Auxiliary

Got a certificate and am eligible for the Florida Boaters Safety card.  (Although I’m old enough to not need one)  I think they did a great job and I appreciate their time and effort.  Some classes were tedious, but I learned something in (almost) every class.  Except that navigation class – ugh.

Tonight’s class covered types of ropes, terminology and knot practice.  Having taught knots to many young boy scouts meant I was free to help other students learn the knots, but I did learn one bend (i.e. knot that connects two dissimilar objects) that I think will come in handy.  It’s called an “anchor bend”.  It looks like this:

Anchor Bend

Anchor Bend

And here is how you tie it.

Anchor Bend instructions

Anchor Bend instructions

Yay, I have Wednesday nights free to sail now!  I’m hoping Saturday is going to get some Sunfish repair time.  And I’m told the West Marine store here is having a going out of business sale.

Boating safety class #10 – Powering your boat

Argh!  I thought we were doing knots tonight!  Nope.  It was all about engines.  Never mind that in almost every other class they’ve talked about engines – Especially during the “Handling your boat” section.

It was mentioned that most larger sailboats go with diesel engines.  Diesel are safer and more reliable than gasoline engines, but they weigh more.  Sailboats can handle the heavier engines and reliability is very important when you’re cruising long distances and have only 1 engine.

Unfortunately most of the class was about engines on power boats.  Boat engines fall into 3 categories – Inboards, Inboard/Outboard, and outboard.

boat motor-inboard

boat motor-inboard


boat motor - inboard outboard

boat motor – inboard outboard


boat motor - outboard

boat motor – outboard

Technically, there is a fourth – Water Jet.  One place those are used in is jetskis, but you don’t need a picture of that do you? Well, ok…

boat motor - water jet

boat motor – water jet

Just for fun, here is a picture of my outboard.

motor stand number two

My Outboard motor

Only one more boating safety class to go.  Knots!

Boating Safety class #9 Boating Safety & Florida Safe Boater Certificate

It’s a little odd that a chapter in the boating safety class is called “boating safety” isn’t it.  Guess what it was about?  What every class is about.  Boating safety!

There was talk of center of gravity in boats, how small boats can tip over if you don’t balance yourself in them.  There was a hypothermia discussion.  Did you know that you can get hypothermia even in warm water?  It just takes longer.  Your body at 98.6 degrees is losing heat to the water all the time.

There was also a life jacket fashion show.  Nowadays the fashion rage is to wear self inflating life vests.  They are becoming more affordable ($80 plus range) and don’t get in the way of your activities as much.

self inflating pfd

self inflating PFD

and with an easy tug on the cord or immersion in water you get POOF

self inflating PFD - inflated

self inflating PFD – inflated

Life saving luxuriousness!

This is more like what my instructors look like though

self inflating pfd - actual

self inflating pfd – actual

I also took the test for the Florida Safe Boating course.  Exactly the same stuff as the Maryland Safe Boater course.  I will get another safety wall decoration.

Only 3 more weeks to completion!  Ahead are Navigation, Powering your boat, and Knots.

You would think I wouldn’t be interested in the “Powering your boat” chapter, but I looked ahead and there is a section on winterizing your outboard motor.  All of my loyal readers will remember what a hard time I had last winter finding someone to teach me how to do it.

Boating Safety Class #7 & 8 Aids to Navigation & Rules of the Road

First of all, sorry about the delay in posting.  It’s been a very hectic time around CapnRehab and I have lots to post about.  I hope to catch up this weekend.

Class #7 Aids to Navigation was all about road signs on the water.  Just remember –

Even Red Nuns have Odd Green Cans.

Red Nun Buoy

Red Nun Buoy


Green Can Buoy


Class Number 8 – Rules of the road.

Red Right Returning means that as you return to port, you will see red buoys on your right.  That leaves the green can buoys on your left.  If you’re leaving port they will be switched.  The numbers are significant because they will indicate a specific buoy on your chart.  (You do have a chart don’t you?)  I thought I had a map, but I didn’t – it was a chart.


Rules of the road are :




has priority over this:



Also, everyone has the responsibility to avoid a collision.  There is no right of way, there is just what you should do based on what the other person should do.  If they don’t do what they are supposed to do, then you should change what you’re doing to avoid the collision.  You don’t want to end up like this:

freighter sailboat collision

freighter sailboat collision


No one was killed in this incident, but two were seriously hurt.  Additionally, it will probably be almost 100% the sailboat’s fault.  That will mean the captain could be responsible for 100’s of thousands of dollars in damages. (for example, if the big ship ran aground while trying to avoid the sailboat, lost time, etc. etc.  <Laywers will have a field day here>)


Boating Safety Class #6 – Handling your boat

Only 7 more classes to go till I get my certificate.  Yay!

This class was REALY oriented to power boat sailors, I yawned through some of the manuevering discussions.  However, some reviews regarding fuel were definitely important.  Sailboats with inboard engines still need to follow the safety rules when fueling. 

  • Close all hatches & windows before fueling.
  • Turn off all electrical equipment
  • extinguish all flame, turn off galley stove, don’t smoke
  • Have the crew wait on the dock.
  • have the fuel dispenser touch the neck of the fuel tank to ground it
  • If it’s a portable gas tank, put it on the dock to fill
  • after fueling open all hatches and windows
  • operate blowers at least 5 minutes to clear out fumes
  • use your nose to check for fumes before starting
  • have a fire extinguisher ready

Another interesting tidbit was a discussion on anchors.  I found out my left-over anchor from the O’Day Sailboat is a Danforth.

Danforth anchor

Danforth anchor

It’s worth about $50 to $75.  One more thing I won’t have to buy to outfit my big boat.

Never pick up your anchor from the rear of your boat.  The Coast Guard Auxilliary folks love to scare us with stories of people in disasters.  This time it was about some pro football players that had anchored and couldn’t get the anchor back up.  They moved the rope to the back of the boat, tied it on a cleat and gunned the moter to yank it out.  It didn’t come out and instead the back of the boat went under the water, the boat rolled and a few drowned.  Very sad.  Don’t do that.   I couldn’t find any details about where the anchor rope was tied, but here is a news article about it.



Boating Safety Class #5 – Trailering your boat

Last night it was back to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary for another rousing classroom session on boating safety.  I wasn’t all that interested, but still manage to pay attention.  A few things really caught my attention.

TRAILER CHAINS – exciting subject huh?  I have a question for you.  You’ve probablyseen trailer safety chains.  Is it important if they are cross hooked or not?

safety chain crossed

With a little bit of thought you can figure it out.  If they are crossed and the hitch comes off the ball, the hitch will fall down and be caught by the chains that are under it.   If they are not crossed, the hitch will fall straight to the pavement. ( I did not know this)

SAFETY TIP: Cross hook your trailer chains.

DRIVING YOUR BOAT ONTO YOUR TRAILER: You should not motor your boat onto your trailer.  The propeller kicks up sand and dirt at the end of the ramp and eventually if enough people do it will leave big holes at the end of the ramp.  This means someone backing a trailer down can have the wheels of the trailer drop into the holes and become stuck.  I had heard this before, but after class I was outside the building and watched someone at the ramp power their boat all the way on their trailer.  No concern for property or other people.  (or maybe they are ignorant and haven’t had a boating safety class)  Ugh.

LAUNCHING YOUR BOAT FROM THE TRAILER:  Make sure  you put the boaty thing in the water, not the cary thing.

trailer boat launch fail

trailer boat launch fail


MATCH THE BALL SIZE WITH THE HITCH SIZE:  A ball that is too small can come out of the socket.  This person is glad they matched the proper sized ball with the hitch.

trailer accident

trailer accident