Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Honey, I forgot to duck.

Well, today things got worse. The wind was already stiff at ten when we started racing. One crew member had gone home, so there was just one remaining crew member and myself with Ken as coach. We got a good start on the race, and we managed to get the mainsail to stay up by tying a slipknot to keep it from slipping out of the cleat – so that, in theory, if we needed to drop the main quickly, we could release that knot. In theory.

We were right up with the rest of the fleet nearing the windward mark, passing a couple of the other contenders. We were making a tack toward the mark, when we got struck by swirling winds off Horse Island that knocked the boat down. We had a major broach when the mainsheet cleat jammed and I couldn’t unsheet it. With my crew and Ken calling out “Unsheet the main!” I kicked repeatedly at that cam cleat until it finally released and the boat came upright.

Then Ken took the helm, and said, “Let’s stop a moment for a breather and collect our wits.” That was welcome. We were just beginning to catch our breath, with the wind off the port beam and the boom extended out to starboard. Next thing I knew, I was lying on my back in the cockpit with a nasty ache on the side of my head, missing my hat and glasses, and my crew member was screaming at me, “Carol Anne! Get up! Get up!” Ken’s face and the front of his life jacket were covered in blood.

Ken wasn’t in great shape, and my crew member was panicking. We got the motor started and the jib lowered, although we still couldn’t get the mainsail down … remember that slip knot? We powered on a broad reach to a wider part of the lake where I could turn the bow upwind and give my crew and Ken time to take that mainsail down. I found my glasses in the cockpit, but my lucky Aussie hat was nowhere to be found. Alas, I fear it will never be found.

Once we got the sail down, I took over the helm. Ken wasn’t in such good shape, and my crew was stressed out, so I didn’t let on that I had been clobbered too – all of the blood was on the side away from my crew and Ken. I took the boat back to the marina, where Larry had just arrived after giving up on the racing himself. Larry and another person from the marina helped bring the boat in, and the other person found a paramedic who was on his boat in the marina, and he looked at both Ken and me and said we should go to the emergency room.

At the emergency room, I got cleaned up and had my lacerated scalp stapled back together. Ken got stitches in his forehead and got a CAT scan to make sure he was all right, and then he was also released.

We rejoined each other at the Strasia compound, where Pat explained why Syzygy wasn’t on committee boat duty – it had a broken fuel line and ran aground near the Dam Site, so Windependent was pressed into duty as committee boat (about what it’s good for, as far as Larry is concerned). Gerald, meanwhile, ended up not sailing, but geocaching with the owners of Cultural Infidel.

Not exactly the best day on the water, and now I have a splitting headache – literally. I think the staples hurt worse than the original injury. And my lucky Aussie hat is lost and gone forever.


Blogger Pat said...

The fuel line on Syzygy had probably befome brittle from UV exposure and weathering and simply snapped off at the point just an inch outside where the line exits the lazerette and enters the motor well. I unrolled the jib and tried to sail back to the marina in 15 - 18 mph winds but the swing centerboard had jammed in the up position and refused to come down. Plus, by myself, I found tacking difficult; I couldn't leave the tiller for long to try to sheet the jib. Realizing that I would soon be on a rocky shore, I picked out a relatively benign spot of shore to beach Syzygy, tie up, and await rescue which fortunately wasn't too long in coming. Then we had to transfer gear to the alternate committee boat.

Sun Feb 19, 11:59:00 PM MST  
Blogger Tillerman said...

Thanks for sharing your learning experiences with the world.

Whenever I have a disastrous day in heavy weather I console myself with the knowledge that next time I'm sailing in winds only slightly lighter than that everything will seem comparatively easy.

Mon Feb 20, 07:53:00 AM MST  
Anonymous Adrift at Sea said...

Ouch... get better soon... I'd recommend you get a Tilley hat, if you're looking to replace your Aussie hat, should it be lost for good.

Mon Feb 20, 01:14:00 PM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Dan, I had a Tilley ... it's part of the story of the Aussie hat. I had misplaced my Tilley, and I was looking for a new hat. When I went into the Methodist thrift store in Pagosa Springs, there it was on the front counter. I picked it up and put it on, and it fit perfectly, tightly enough that no wind could knock it off.

Right after getting the Aussie hat, I found my Tilley, which was my backup hat. I guess it'll be my main hat again now.

Tillerman, thanks for the observation. I'm sure it's true.

Mon Feb 20, 03:05:00 PM MST  
Anonymous andrew Teague said...

Glad to hear that y'all were knocked into the boat. I hat to image if you landed in the water.

How far is Pagose Springs from your location(s)

Mon Feb 20, 06:39:00 PM MST  
Anonymous andrew Teague said...

Hate to imagine

Mon Feb 20, 06:40:00 PM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Pagosa Springs is about an hour's drive from the cabin at Heron Lake, which in turn is about three hours from Albuquerque, which in turn is about two hours from Elephant Butte.

Tue Feb 21, 10:53:00 AM MST  
Blogger EVK4 said...

I am glad you're fine...that is one scary experience. What's amazing is that you were on a beam reach and gybed, that is one heck of a wind shift. Lakes.....

Wed Feb 22, 09:30:00 AM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

According to some witnesses, we got struck by a dust-devil that swept off the island. We didn't see it coming.

Wed Feb 22, 10:36:00 AM MST  
Blogger Pat said...

Another problem was that the recovery from the broach involved problems with the cam cleat holding the mainsheet; after the sheet had finally been blown the sheet was all tangled with the cam cleat and in a mess when the next big wind hit and caused the boom to gybe.

Wed Feb 22, 03:25:00 PM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching Carol Anne perform an unrecoverable broach in her new boat-----PRICELESS

Sat Mar 11, 10:09:00 AM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch indeed. Much more dramatic and doubly dangerous

Tue Jun 23, 05:44:00 AM MDT  

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