THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU

Many of us sail on a "calm" lake with a rescue boat available when we are racing. But what happens if you are out on a lake or worse the ocean under heavy wind conditions and your boat turns over and you do not have enough flotation and thus the boat starts to sink. Read the story of a fellow sailor and why you need to make sure that you are safe

It all happened in Squally Bay, Lake Weslemkoon - a large lake just south of Algonquin Park. We capsized in late August 99. Not only capsized - we turned turtle. But, in accordance with MOT requirements we had our whistles. We blew them and people in boats came (just like in the movies, ' build a field and they will come). It took 8 people in three outboards, 31/2 hours to get our Rebel to shore, less than a kilometre away.
As you noted in your e-mail, our old boat has very little flotation. And because we have had difficulty getting our boat point (the subject of previous correspondence between us) we had added 'ballast' to the bow (two concrete blocks) which resulted in a boat which when in the turtle position, looked like the Titanic i.e. only the stern above water. Our lake is approximately 50 metres deep at the 'turtled' location so, if 1132 went down it would need titanic efforts to retrieve it. More importantly with only the stern above water it was very difficult to tow, particularly in heavy seas. All of the above required taking off the motor (we use a 2 hp electric trolling motor to get in and out of a rocky shoreline), removing the rudder and cutting the forestay to free the mast - all underwater operations. Even then, nature would only let our helpers tow in one direction - away from the cottage - boat still upside down. But people are wonderful. Those at the cottage where we were beached hours later, righted the boat, bailed it out (for a while water was coming over sides as fast as the bailers could work), gave us dry clothes, fed us, and even gave the skipper a beer. We reciprocated a week later by designing a T-Shirt with a sailboat and the words 'Squally Bay Rescue Squad' and giving one to each of the 8 good souls who saved the ship (and us). Troopers that we are, new airplane wire was purchased, the mast reinstalled and the crew was out sailing the next weekend. How did it happen? We were sailing in the 'big lake. White caps began to appear. We headed for home but when passing between two islands hit an underwater obstruction which apparently drove the centre board up. When we tried to head into the wind to take down the sails, the boat went on a screeching reach instead. I threw out the sails (too far it seems) and the boom hit the water - game over. After rereading a sailing book and the rebelsailor web page we have learned a lot. The most important lesson - we must add flotation bags under bow and stern and put 'blue' rigid insulation under the floorboards. And just as were are thinking of those things (and new sails) you come along with your proposal for flotation bags. YES - we are interested. Tell us more. Thanks for listening. Regards, High Westren Toronto,Ontario