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A Cautionary Tale

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Hi Thom et al,
On Sunday last I went to spend a couple of days sailing with a live aboard friend.
His yacht was on a swinging mooring about 100 feet outside a marina. I entered the marina and made my way to the low concrete pier nearest to his yacht while he collected his tender from the public slipway.
As he paddled the tender I noticed that it looked unstable and that there was a low, wind backed swell coming in off the sea. My life jacket was in my bag but without its gas cylinder because I had flown. I had intended to get a new cylinder on arrival but the chandlery was shut. My friend paddled to his home to get me a life jacket but returned having forgotten it. He put my bag in the front of the tender and I got in the rear. A yard out from the pier the sea flooded over the stern and the tender sank.
I got to the pier but could not hoist myself up sufficiently to get on the top. I was wearing a shoulder bag across my front that caught the lip of the pier and a thick paperback book in my jacket pocket did the same. I am old and heavy and I could feel the cold water rapidly sapping my strength. The sloping mud shore was only about 80 feet away but I knew that I didn't have the strength to swim to it. My friend, young and lithe, was able to get out and eventually, with great struggle, lifted me by my belt sufficiently that I could roll onto the pier.
I am an inexperienced sailor but I am well read and being a cautious man I have completed RYA practical and theory courses. I am very angry with myself for ignoring the evidence of my own eyes and upset that I trusted my friends seamanship. Although my friend then brought his yacht to the pier I refused to board. I found a Samaritan to dry my clothes and rent me a bed for the night. The next day I flew home.
Lessons learnt:
Always, always, always wear a good life jacket in a tender (my friends jacket failed to inflate. I could have put mine on and inflated it by mouth but I never thought of that until a day later) With an inflated life jacket I could have got to the shore hand over hand down the length of the pier.
Trust your own judgment. Don't assume that somebody with thousands of miles of sailing experience will always make good decisions (if in doubt, don't go out. I saw that there was a swell and I thought the tender to be unstable)
Don't wear anything across your front or in pockets that may stop you lifting yourself up.
Have a change of warm clothing and a towel in a waterproof bag. (everything I had with me was wet through)
Keep electronic goods in a waterproof bag until safely aboard (I have wrecked my sub notebook computer, my digital camera and my mobile phone)
I would appreciate any comments on my experience. I honestly thought that I was going to drown by reason of stupidity.


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Topic - A Cautionary Tale - Dexey 21:30:34 04/15/03 (2)


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