Index of Articles in Frank's Corner of Sailing Texas
My neighbor has an Prindle 18 Catamaran and no sails at that time. He wanted to take the boat out and asked if I would go with him and loan him a main and jib. Since I had been wanting go for a sail it was an easy answer. We loaded the gear in his truck and hitched up the cat and drove the few minutes to the lake. We stepped the mast and rigged the boat and launched her and headed out to the middle of the lake, when he spotted a problem with the jib. He asked if I would lower the main for a minute while he worked on the jib. As I sat there watching him, a gust of wind came up unexpectedly and blew my expensive mainsail overboard. I watched it float slowly away and remembered material does not float. While it started to sink, I yelled at my friend I was going overboard to get the sail. As my feet disappeared beneath the water, I caught up with the main - only the head of the sail was still floating and I grabbed it just as it was beginning to go down. Now, I am 66 years old and treading water while I waited for my friend to steer the boat over to me, unaware he did not know how to navigate a boat by jib only.
As he kept drifting further and further toward shore, I was left holding the main and treading water, shoes and all. I ended up getting leg cramps after all the kicking I was doing. I tried to pull the main and swim toward shore but the sail was just too heavy. I resigned myself to just staying afloat and wait for him to come and get me. After about 20 minutes my friend gave up and jumped into the water and swam the few hundred feet to rescue this tired old man who was beginning to think life may be getting shorter than expected, because I was not going to let loose of that sail. When my friend did catch up to me I was more than ready to be rescued and learned a valuable lesson that day.
One does not know ahead of time when your life may be put in jeopardy, so always be prepared and wear your safety equipment even when you think all is OK without it. I never took safety for granted since that day; some lessons are learned the easy way and that was one of those days.
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