Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

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Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by delevi » Sun May 10, 2009 3:58 pm

It all started good and well. We set out for a weekend sail to the northernmost part of San Francisco Bay up into the Napa River. We actually left late Friday night and sailed off into the moonlight to Tiburon where we moored for the night. It’s a long trek, which I wanted to do all under sail, so I figured leaving in the morning from Tiburon would allow us enough time to do that and enjoy the river. Had a nice breakfast in Tiburon at a local café just steps from the dock and sailed off. It was a perfect, sunny day with mild breeze and favorable current. We entered the river and got about half way through the 10 mile stretch of sailable water. This river is challenging because of the many shallow spots, though I have a very nice plotter and full detail so I knew where to go (or so I thought.) The breeze picked up as we sailed on a beam reach, about to round one of the curves in the river. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the plotter since I was right in the center of the river. Suddenly I felt that boat come to a full stop. I knew right away we ran aground. A quick look at the plotter showed that we were just outside the deep channel and the sounder showed 4 ½ feet. I went for the daggerboard uphaul and started pulling. For those who don’t know, mine is the heavy one (180 lbs) and it must have stuck in the mud so I had to use my whole body to pull on the 6:1 block & tackle. We spun around more than 90 degrees in the meantime and the jib backwinded. I asked Dawn to uncleat the jib sheet, completely losing site of…. what happens right after the jib backwinds? Yeah. A moment after she went for the jib sheet, over comes the boom. Whoosh! Pow! Boom meets Admiral’s forehead. Her face was pale, tears ran down her eyes, but scariest of all, blood was everywhere! All she could say, over and over, “I want to go home.” I knew I had to move quickly and decisively, despite the panic that was setting in fast. She needed immediate attention and the boat was out of control. I ran down into the cabin and grabbed a couple of paper towels. Put them on her forehead and had her apply pressure. I told her to stay there and not move, being sure to keep applying pressure while I get us out of danger. As quickly as I could, I took down the sails, pulled up the daggerboard and dropped anchor. I cleaned her up and put ice on her head. The bleeding mostly stopped, but not completely. She seemed “with-it,” though obviously in a lot of pain and scared; but I was fairly confident she didn’t suffer a concussion. The cut was deep but fairly small. After settling her in down in the cabin with ice, I proceeded to quickly clean up the blood, pull up anchor and head back. Obviously home was the destination. I knew from past experience that you only have approximately 6 hours after a cut when stitches can be put in. With a 60 mile trek ahead of us, I had my work cut out for me. Fortunately, with the Mac under power, this is doable. Also with the Mac, you can get out of a grounding, as we did. In hindsight, this could have been really ugly had we been stuck there without a sole in sight. But the story doesn’t end here. The Mac needed yet another opportunity to be the hero. We approached the harbor entrance approximately 8:30 p.m. Through the darkness, I noticed a flashing light off my starboard side. It was a sailboat with sails down and no lights, waving a flashlight in our direction. Shortly after seeing them, I could hear them yelling. Wind was blowing 20 knots and the current about 3 knots as they’re drifting closer to the break-wall. Quite the pickle for yours truly. I know full well the mariners’ code and respect it highly. But then, there’s my injured wife who I need to get to the hospital quickly. I looked at her and asked if she could hang in there a bit longer. “Let’s go help them,” she said. The sailboat’s engine failed and they couldn’t see well. When they saw me approaching, they thought we were on a collision course, so they dropped their sails, now a sitting duck. This was as much as I could gather trying to yell through the howling wind. We gave them a tow into the marina and go them to a dock safely. Then it was off to the hospital where Dawn got the laceration glued (not stitched) and as an added bonus, received a Tetanus shot. She’s in good spirits now, though I don’t know if I’ll ever get her on board again. :x This was quite the humbling experience to me as a sailor. It was 100% my fault. I should have known better. I’m truly bummed with guilt and feel like dope. I am grateful for the Mac, though, as were the new friends we made at the marina. As much as I want a large keelboat someday, this experience would have been much worse, had we been in one. Well that’s my little story. Thanks for reading. Not sure if one can learn from this experience. Hopefully someone can. BTW. I am changing my tagline from “Tripple-Reefed” to “Accidental Gybe.”

Fair Winds,
:o accidental gybe :?

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by Indulgence » Sun May 10, 2009 4:46 pm

My first thought was: Welcome to my world Leon.

After you neglected your chartplotter, you did all the right things in the right order.
Crew 1st, Boat 2nd, dealt with another emergency as your situation allowed. Hard to stay calm with that much mayhem going on, and really tough when a loved one gets a severe crack in the head.
Any idiot can sail (albiet poorly), but it takes a good sailor to assess a difficult situation with a clear head and quickly recover with the best interests of his crew and craft in mind.

Your wife sounds like a trooper. Give her my best.

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by Chinook » Sun May 10, 2009 5:40 pm

One aspect of sailing which always amazes and impresses me is how completely quickly the situation can change from perfectly fine to deep dodo, and often without warning. This fact is actually one reason why sailing appeals to me. It's fine to be extremely relaxed, but you always need to be aware, scanning your surroundings, considering what might happen. And when an emergency suddenly arises, you only have your own skill and experience, along with the capabilities of your boat, to call upon for immediate response. Thanks for sharing your experience. Each story I can add to my own litany of mistakes, close calls, and narrow misses helps me to be a little safer on the water. Fortunately it all came out ok, other than the discomfort of your wife's injury. I hope you both have many more happy experiences on your boat.

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by kmclemore » Sun May 10, 2009 6:21 pm

Hope she's better soon, Leon. As others have said, given the circumstances, after your initial error you did everything just fine. Life is about learning!

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by NiceAft » Sun May 10, 2009 6:28 pm


You're getting to be the Jack London of sailing stories.

All the best for your wife, and I hope she gets on board real soon.


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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by CMikey » Sun May 10, 2009 6:34 pm

I have had more then my share of "events" this past year. A dismasting , a motor bracket falure and wet motor, and this last weekend I lost the 625 lb. swing keel off my boat. I don't know what they teach in these sailing schools but I think I could open a school for sailors that will give you a much higher degree of education and deal with the "reality of sailing" in a real world enviroment.

To date my crew and I have not suffered any physical injury. For this I am thankfull.

All of my events have been attribuded to hardware failure, thus I am not going to give the Mac a standing obvation at this time. I can only tell you that inspection of every square inch of your boat on a timley basis is the best way to avoid these types of problems. For that lack of detailed inspection I will take the bame. I knew the age of my boat and when I was refurbing it I didn't take enough time and put in the effort to inspect every little detail.

I you decide to work on your Phd of Sailing, please give me a hollar and I will sign you up for our hurricane tactic's course starting in June and ending in November....
If it is going to will happen out there! Capt. Ron
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Naples, Fl.

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by bscott » Sun May 10, 2009 7:30 pm

Leon, Best wishes for your wife's health and congratulations on your quick thinking and her personal sacrifice for the safety of the boat and crew of the other boat.

One thing we do is to set a depth alarm--usually at 6' as a prewarning for a potential grounding and my wife is navigator. She is in charge of the depth finder and I rely on her advice and preminitions as to when to pull up the CB and drop the engine when in tight spots or in traffic. I also respect her judgement when it comes time to reef or turn back to the marina.

Your story is an excellent example as to the virtues of the Mac as it is not only a relatively easy boat to self rescue but a motor sailor capable of rescuing others.

Thanks for sharing,


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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by dreamer » Sun May 10, 2009 7:33 pm

Thanks for posting. We can all use a reminder to be carefull, and what to do when things go wrong. Good on you two for deciding to tow the other boat. I hope the admiral gets well soon.

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by Matt19020 » Sun May 10, 2009 7:41 pm

Delevi glad to hear everyone will recover My wife still comes out on the boat after her incident On the very first trip... ...
One of my first post:
My Wifes first day on our new Mac:
My wife was away for a week and she wanted to go out on the boat today. I was working on her earlier (the boat!) and decided to stain and varnish the 3 steps into the cabin so I took them off and stained them at home. I put ONE temporary step in the middle and made do until the others were done. I figured I would go easy and motor only, to break her (wife) in slowly to the new boat. My first boat Flying Scot hit her in the head with the boom (I admitted it was my fault but she did not seem to care!) We went for about 45 minutes avg. speed 7 knots light chop on water. She was very happy with our investment and the way the boat felt. We decide to head back to slip…… I opened it up a little to stretch her legs and BANG! I look forward and I see my new furler dangling off the deck 9 feet midway to the mast! ALL STOP…. I looked up for what seemed to be 10 minutes and realized the MAST WAS FREE!! ON ITS WAY DOWN TO THE DECK!!! Or at least I thought… I instantly told my wife to get clear and go below for safety (I did not want to hear she got hit in the head again) and THEN realized there was only ONE STEP! The mast seemed to be held up by the furling line that was attached to the drum luckily it was locked down. I went to grab the jib halyard to secure the mast and it was no where to be found ….I grabbed the main halyard and secured it to the bow cleat. I tightened it and took the pressure off the furling line. I looked up and noticed the main halyard was coming under the spreaders Not good,but better!
WHERE IS MY JIB HALYARD?!?! I look up and there it is holding my new jib cover in place at the top of the mast!! I quickly dropped the cover secured the jib halyard and started breathing again. The whole experience took about 3-4 minutes but felt like an eternity. I called my wife back on deck and there she sat with a 4” gash on her leg from the trip down the ladder no stitches but did leave a nice scar. (My fault again I suppose).
I looked at the furler at the dock and the 2” pin that was securing it was gone. The bail was still there. I had my friend look at that set up prior as I was concerned about such a situation he assured me it was fine. I know it was in and secured with the bail, it was checked by myself and him. The pin either snapped (which I doubt) or the bail came off under the bouncing of the boat when I applied the throttle . I replaced it with a pin and ringding.
I should have replaced this setup when I second guessed it originally.

At the end of the day I felt we handled the ordeal well, my ego took a hit today and a cut leg but things could have went A LOT WORSE one was seriously hurt and "My Time" was undamaged I hope some have gotten enjoyment and some have learned what not to do.
But as Chinook said it is amazing how fast it will go from a perfect day to total caos.

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by pokerrick1 » Sun May 10, 2009 8:59 pm

Leon - - -just another day on the water - - -huh? Glad everyone is OK!

Now KEVIN - - - THAT is a proper avatar for you :!: :!:

Rick :) :macm:

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by Québec 1 » Sun May 10, 2009 9:49 pm

Your wife deserves a medal for the hit she took in action. :D :idea: pearls are nice :arrow: ! Thanks for the post. It is refreshing to be part of this great site where sailors relate their mishaps not just their speed records. But then with a Mac my speed records are WOT not 3 sheets to the wind. :D

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by waternwaves » Sun May 10, 2009 11:17 pm


In some ways you were a lucky man.

I hope your admiral heals clean and quickly, with no ill effects.

could have been much much worse.

Best of all to both of you.

I think this story is a good reminder, of how none of us are vigilant enough.....all the time.

Thankyou for sharing your family's pain. I hope me and my family learn from you. (we have been learning the hard way by ourselves way way too often.)

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by beene » Mon May 11, 2009 3:58 am


What can I say? I am glad Dawn is OK. I hope she gets past this and comes out again as I know how much you both enjoy the sport. Times like this explain why she likes to go below and read while you fight the good fight on deck. Not the first time the Mac bit her me thinks.....

Nice to hear you were able to help another sailor in distress, they must have been very very grateful, as you and I can attest to what it is like to need help on the water.

See you in a few days.


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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by Kelly Hanson East » Mon May 11, 2009 7:45 am

“Let’s go help them,” she said.
Thats says it all about her imho.

She is hereby promoted to Full Admiral of the Fleet

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Re: Injured Admiral, a MacHero, The story must be told

Post by irayone » Mon May 11, 2009 8:08 am



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