Upsetting? Perhaps to some - for me, it just "dampened"
my spirits a bit. It all started so simply......
I needed my sailing fix. Haven't been out in over TWO weeks,
you see. My wife had a family reunion in El Campo on Sunday,
and we were going down on Saturday evening to spend the night
and visit. I talked her into letting me take the nymph and sneak
out Saturday afternoon to Lake Texana about 15 miles farther
down Hwy 59.
Got there, dropped the family off, and down the road I went.
I was planning to go to the state park and launch but saw a
sign for a public boat ramp on the way and pulled in. No one
else was there as the ramp was basically too shallow for most
boats. Too much mud buildup. No problem for me - throw the boat
in the water, paddle out and drop the leeboard.
It was great sailing. Wind was steady at about 10-12 mph out
of the SSE. The lake runs north/south, so I just settled in
for a nice reach across the lake about a mile away. It was a
blast! I sailed it over and back a couple of times, working
my way slightly south so I could have a nice run back to the
ramp to end the day. And then.......
Let me set this up a bit. This is the first time I have had
the boat out on a lake big enough to actually sail for a while
without having to tack almost immediately. So I got comfortable,
stupid, and very, very, wet.
Looking back, this is what I think happened. It was over pretty
quickly - at least the initial getting wet part. I was sailing
west, and had the sheet pulled in pretty tightly, giving the
boat a slight heel. I was sprawled across the center seat (next
change after adding floatation) and was relaxing holding the
sheet in the same hand as the tiller. A pretty big gust came
along and pulled the sail hard, also pulling the rudder and
causing the boat to steer to windward. My initial reaction (as
the gust was pushing) was to lean farther back. Anyhow, when
the boat steered into the wind, the sail depowered, and some
guy I resemble was WAY out of position.
SPLASH! Gurgle. Sppptttthhhh. Insert favorite curse word. As
always, I was wearing my PFD and actually had it all zipped
up and on right. I am a believer now. First check - I am not
tangled up in anything, drowning is not imminent - yet.
To make matters more interesting, I was almost dead center
in the lake and not a soul in sight. Ok, can I pull it back
over? No - not with mast in. Unstep mast - boat flops over.
Check inventory - leeboard, oar, rudder, where's my rudder?
Swim over, get rudder.
Now, the nymph does float full of water. The stern and stem
both sit up nicely - two inches above the lake. Center rail
just kisses the water. Bailing is not an option. My thoughts
at this time are something along the lines of "Well, shit."
I decided I would crawl into the boat and lash everything together.
Just call me Huck Finn. Whoops, sitting in boat is not an option
- boat just keeps going down and becomes real unstable. Hmmmm.....
Shove rudder and leeboard under mast step for more floatation,
lay down on back with rump on seat - we're ok - boat back to
level and everything accounted for. Now to get back to shore.
Anyhow, to make a long story short - I maintained this position
for the next hour or so and carefully paddled the remains of
my pride and boat back to shore. Never saw a soul. The only
real worries I had were if a thunderstorm headed my direction
- abandon ship time.
Loaded the boat, went back to the hotel, and had a really interesting
story for the reunion crowd.
As this is my first knockdown, I would be interested in any
tips from other swimmers, I mean, sailors out there. Other than
the obvious "Don't".