I went on a little sail a few weeks ago. My plan was to sail from Fort Myers, FL to the Florida Keys and back over the course of a two week period. In summary, it ended up being a five day sail and I did not make it to the Keys. However; it was a very educational experience. I’m sure I’ll writing about the lessons learned for awhile but I must start with preparedness (which, it turns out, I was not):
Weather – I completely blew it here (no pun intended!). For some reason, I figured weather would be easy to acquire. For me, it was not. I clearly have some learning to do. I must be spoiled as weather information is pretty easy to put your hands on in aviation. When sailing, the VHF forecast was simply not enough for me. I did not think XM satellite weather would be necessary on a boat but am now re-thinking that. I have no doubt that the “storm” that I “survived” was pretty miniscule compared to what real sailors experience. However; it was plenty enough to teach me a thing or two.
Plan – I had one, lots of information printed (anchorages, marinas, etc…) , and was ready to go. When the wind did not cooperate the first day, I found myself well short of my intended goal and completely lacking information about the area. I did things that I should not have and knew it, this was very uncomfortable. The result was running aground. Thankfully, it occurred at low tide in mud. I tossed the anchor overboard and laid down to get some rest. When I awoke, I was floating again so I got out of there.
Safety Equipment – I had never been in a gale at night and I did not intend to be on this trip. Surprise!! I now have REAL respect for the absolute necessity of PFD’s, jack lines, and the significance of COB/MOB (crew overboard/man overboard). In those conditions, I do not see any possible way that someone overboard could be recovered. I suppose it is possible with an experienced crew and a lot of luck but far from my current skill level.
Obviously all of the above can be addressed and resolved. I am thankful for the lessons learned. I will most certainly take them to heart, learn from them, and try to never repeat them. More to come….