Saturday 24 August 2013

Stunningly, I Continue To Remain… an Idiot.

               "...over and over and over, again..."
                                           -The Spinners
    Notice to Mariners, Eastern Lake Erie, Long Point Bay:
    Buoy ED2's current physical location does not match chart location.

    Yeah, I hit it.


     (Y'know, if I am gonna keep baring my soul like this, hanging my dirty laundry on this worldwide clothesline, I really need to find some way for it to pay off.  Schadenfreude should equal shekels, I'm thinking.  Alas, it does not; while I continue to swing for the fences, I have yet to get called to The Show.  Really, I'm pretty okay with that.  I have thousands hundreds a handful of loyal readers that I am happy to call friends, who are happy to call me on my shit. And I apparently keep giving them lots of shit to call me on.  Like this.)


     It was a beautiful night for a twilight sail.

    No traffic, we've pretty much got the bay to ourselves, there's just a breath more than a wheeze of wind, pretty much just enough to keep the sails full and Whiskeyjack chuckling along at 3-4 knots on a reach.

    Not a great sailing night, but a great night for a sail.  SWMBO and I had been working long hours, and had seen little of each other over the past week.  We were like ships passing in the night, to borrow a worm-eaten but accurate cliche.        
   So, to be able to grab a few hours together? At the same time?  On the same boat?
   That's a perfect night, limp wind be damned.

    We light up the trusty Yanmar one-lunger (running much happier since a fuel filter change, oil change, valve adjustment, head re-torque, and fuel line bleeding)  and putt out of the Marina.  We soon turn to port, bearing south around ED6,  and roll out our genoa, raise the main and  cut the power, SWMBO and I smiling as we soak in the sudden silence.

    With the wind coming out of the west, our deck-sweeping genny was effectively blindfolding me, the usually situationally aware skipper, to anything off our port bow.  In fact, pretty much anything from 8-12 on the clock was obstructed from view.  Luckily, I had a second pair of eyes aboard.

... And I had a chartplotter.

... which, for those of you who are not up to speed on cutting edge high-falutin' modern boat electronics, means that I had, on a 5" screen, a full colour  graphic representation of the lates edition of the most current official and accurate marine charts, outlining depth and distance and dastardly damned destructive distractions that a prudent sailor would be well-advised to avoid.

    Including buoys.

   The red buoys marking the  approach to Port Dover, ED2, ED4, and ED 6 are known informally as the Three Sisters, and common lore is that ED2 is the sister you can dance with, ED4 is the sister who won't let you get too close, and ED6 is just plain ugly when you get within arm's reach.

   Having messed with the rocky shoals to the east of ED6, once, I tend to give her a wide berth as  we depart the marina.

  ED4 and ED2 are in deeper, less treacherous water.

   Thus, once past ED6, sometimes situational awareness becomes... less than fully aware.

   With sails full(ish) and our stalwart galleon ambling along,   SWMBOclimbs  forward onto the house to enjoy the sunset.  She looks forward and informs me that ED2 is off our port bow...

     :...but,"  she continues, "If we hold this course, we'll miss it."

    Note the use of the plural subjective pronoun above.

    Not being able to actually see aforementioned navigational buoy, thanks to the large dirty and frayed obstruction that is our 160% genoa,  I glance at the chartplotter and see that, according to the theoretical, perfect, completely imaginary world of  electronic charts, ED2 was hundreds of yards off our port bow, currently at about 10:30 on the clock.
  (okay, imagine that there is a clock face on the table/desk/couch/bed/lap/floor  in front of you.  imagine 12 o'clock is directly in front.  Imagine where the big hand would be if the time was 10:30. now point your hand there.  THAT is where ED2 is supposed to be, at that moment in time.)
   (I can't believe you actually pointed.  By the way, did you know that it is impossible to lick the outside of your elbow.?)
   (Oh,come on...  you didn't.  Did you?)
    (Yeah, I knew you did.)

   Okay, so back to the story:  sailing along, nice night, all is good, no boats around, yadda yadda. SWMBO and I sit down to relax in the cockpit with a glass of wi


"Oh My God,"  SWMBO replies, "YOU hit a buoy!!!"
(Note the pronoun change, from plural to singular.  Yep, this one is alllllll mine.)

   A big-ass orange shape pops into view  as it passes the leech of the genoa, and continues to bump down our port side:

Folks, allow me to introduce you to my now-close friend, ED2.

Having established that no significant harm was done to our vessel (turns out that ED2 is basically a tower attached to a big fiberglass donut, and having ascertained that 3 out of 4 chambers of my heart are pumping furiously while one seems to be pretty much catatonic, I glanced at the chartplotter:

Then,  while SWMBO gazed aft at ED2 bobbing in our wake, in incredulous disbelief, I darted below and grabbed the camera....

(Yes, the helm was unattended.  For a brief moment.  It wasn't like there was anything to hit, I'd bloody well ALREADY HIT IT, hadn't I?)

...  and snapped a shot of the chartplotter screen:

Which was horribly out of focus, so I snapped another one shortly thereafter, as the wind died and we bobbed.

  Call it, oh...almost a QUARTER MILE out of position.

  Upon our return to the Dock, we inspected our trusty vessel for any signs of damage.  Aside from a small scrape aft of the registration number on the port side, there was no evidence that we had bounced off a big-ass buoy.

    Whiskeyjack  is the Keith Richards of small cruisers-  Not real attractive, but enduring and hard to kill.

   Until now.

  So, what did we learn from my fail?

   Reagan was right:  Trust, but verify.

   Waters you have sailed hundreds of times are always new- nothing ever stays static when affected by wind and waves,

    Chartplotters are a nice tool, but nothing beats the Human Eyeball, Mk I, for  accurate real time situation reports.

    And, it is always the fault of the person holding the wheel.  There may be no "I" in "Team" but there is always one U in "It's Your Problem."

  "Talk the Dock!"


1 comment:

  1. DOH!!! I suppose the one upside to me not trusting my navigational skills would be that I always assume I am wrong and that the chart is wrong but I don't know if that would help with the genny unfurled. Glad Whiskyjack seems none the worse for wear and I am really thankful you don't sail around here. Its not thebuoys you have to worry about, its the rigs. ;)