Saturday, June 19, 2010


"It's not an adventure until something goes wrong!"
Yvon Chouinard

So what happened yesterday as I tried to join the flotilla welcoming Reid Stowe back to New York? I should have know something was up when I saw Stowe hoist anchor at 6:15 am. He probably had better weather forecasts than I did. The first thing that happened as I went forward to uncover the sail is I noticed the anchor snubber line had crossed over during the night an been frayed by the anchor chain and was about to let go.
 A few seconds after I took the above photo it did. Things went downhill from there. Bob at BOATBITS says when one is sailing one should never say you are going to a destination but, rather one is going toward a destination. Just like I should have never said I was going to take BIANKA and join the Reid Stowe flotilla. After I got the boat ready I went to lift the anchor. Being alone on board this was problematic because the winds had picked up to 15 to 20 knots. The bow was pitching up and down about two to three feet in the waves. I needed to weigh anchor but, had no one at the helm to help use the motor to ease the strain on the windlass. I was hoping it would hold up long enough to lift the anchor but, it did not. The chain started to reel off the capstan. Now instead of 75 feet of chain I had 100 feet of chain out that I would have to retrieve by hand with the boat facing 15+ knot winds. It took about forty five minutes of slowly pulling in the chain sometimes only a few inches at a time. I guess the good news is I'll be able to do another post about repairing the Maxwell Nilsson VR700 windlass.

BLOG UPDATE:  I went back to look at some of the wind data on June 17th to see why I got into such a bunch of hurt that day. This chart of wind gusts from Robbins Reef shows where I went wrong.

The winds were hitting 36 knots. Not quite Gale conditions but, close enough for me. The story continues... 
I finally got the anchor up and raised sail. I was glad I put in two reefs because the winds soon increased more. I was moving along at times 6.4 knots double reefed with spray hitting me in the face from time to time. At some point one of the hanger lines that holds the sail in the cradle let go. This caused the sail and reefing lines droop just enough to catch the edge on one of the solar panels when I tacked. It broke the frame holding it and threatened to carry solar panel overboard.

It was a scramble to get it temporarily secured while trying to keep the boat in control. Needless to say I was not having a fun day. I called the flotilla organizers to let them know my situation and I that I would try  and catch up to the flotilla but, I never did. I was down by Governors Island when Reid docked at the World Yacht Pier. Happily, the Tugster was on  the Pioneer and got some great shots of the Reid and the other bigger sailboats in the flotilla here and here. So I can see what I missed. As you can see from his photos boats were healed over quite a bit as the winds were blowing pretty good. But, the day turned out to be not all bad for me and BIANKA. After I was near the Staten Island Ferry terminal the winds began to subside and I enjoyed a rather pleasant sail to the Newport Marina where after a few cold beers I was able to enjoy the beautiful Alpenglow on the city of New York as the sun set.


will said...

mike-- i thought you were on my blogroll, but . . . !@#@!! you weren't. now you were. i enjoyed chatting yesterday. happy sailing. let me know about monday

Capt. Mike said...


Thanks! I too enjoyed the gam. And thanks for the great photos on your blog. At least I got to see the the things that I missed while I was having my own "adventure" sailing in the sixth borough.

bonnie said...

Yvon Chouinard? Dang, and here I always thought my boyfriend made that up!

Naaah, not really, but we do like to say that when things go wrong. Sorry you couldn't join in the flotilla fun but I did enjoy your photos of the Anne the night before. Thanks again!

Hope you get home with no further mishaps.

Capt. Mike said...


Thanks for the good thoughts. Happily no further damage occured. Windlass has been fixed and I have already installed the new improved solar panel frame on one panel. More to follow.