Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hiding out in plain sight

Sorry for the lack of blogging; The J.O.B. is getting busy and everyone needs their insurance!

Over the weekend, we took Barco Sin Vela to the Navy Jax Yacht Club for the annual birthday celebration and barbecue.

I discovered that a fan belt had failed on the generator (a-hah!), so I went to Napa Auto parts (Sponsors of the 55 Michael Waltrip racing team) and found that they did not carry a 25 inch fan belt! It only took an hour and mucho hard work by the nice staff to find this out. Kohler Generators would prefer that I pay their prices for a hard to find belt.

So I get back to the Barco at 1315, and we prepared to get underway most rikky-tik. There was a huge storm cell approaching, but since thunderstorms travel from West to East, I thought we would skirt it and maybe get away as we headed South on the River.


This storm was hauling to the South, so I kept running the engines at 2200 RPM trying to avoid being beat up. We passed the Buckman bridge and began hearing the "Mayday" from a sailboat called "Liberty Call".

The Mayday described a small 17 foot Daysailer with three souls on board being capsized in the 50+ knot winds, just to the North of
View Larger Map">NAS Jax.

At that moment, we were being pelted with so much rain that the visibility dropped to twenty yards, I was driving by GPS and RADAR. Thunder was exploding around us and you could sorta see the lightning striking the water to our port.

I began a instrument guided turn to the North (We were already in the meanest part of the storm, may as well be useful) and increased speed to make it back to "Liberty Call". While doing this, I called on VHF 16 to Coast Guard Group Mayport and asked if I could assist in the rescue. Thankfully, they would not need us because Florida Yacht Club and Jax Fire and Rescue motorboats were inbound.

Barco would be a fine rescue platform, but I would prefer we had another crew person in addition to the Spousal Unit, especially if there is tough boat handling and maneuvering. But we were not rigged for rescue and we were having our own problems with the weather.

The Crew of the Barco is very happy that our past four boats are well fitted for 50+ knots of winds. We got caught in a similar storm in 1992 on a 23 foot sailboat and just about got wrecked.

Big winds make lowering sails difficult.

So we made it to NAS Jax and tied up. Then that storm turned 180 degrees and came right back! Pounded us into the dock, breaking a rub rail and ruined my good mood.

I really dislike the NAS Jax docks. I also hate that I couldn't have waited an hour before making our landfall, after all the storms left.

We enjoyed a very wet steak and lobster barbecue.

Sunday was a beautifully hot and sunny day! We took off after breakfast and headed South towards Doctor's Lake. The river had a nice Westerly breeze and we enjoyed sight seeing boats and nice houses. But it was hot and we made our way to the Yacht Club and secured from boating at 1500.

There are no pictures because I forgot about the camera on Sunday. On Saturday, different deal. I never seem to take pictures of hazardous moments on the water. Usually, I have my hands full of keeping us on the airy side of the ocean/river. Plus, I would hate to have rescuers find stupid photos of me and my crew in a perilous situation.

"What were you doing taking pictures instead of handling your boat safely?"


Buck said...

Yow. This sounds like entirely too much excitement for an old geezer (you may draw your own conclusions as to who that might be). I'm glad all worked out well, though. Wet BBQs are better than no BBQ at all!

USA_Admiral said...

I know you had a bit of a time but it made for great reading.

I am glad everything went better after that.

Barco Sin Vela II said...

Hey Buck; You seem to get some big winds of your own in N.M.

Remember; It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!