Monday, May 28, 2007

Our First Hobie Pitchpoling Experience!


It is Memorial Day 2007, and there was a good 15mph west wind, so my two boys and I went out to the lake to sail our Hobie 16 -- here is a picture of it.

We got this boat this winter, just rigged it for the first time on Saturday, and took two brief sails on the weekend. Not a lot of wind on those first trips out. Today was different, the wind was really blowing. We got out and were having a great time, with the boys taking turns going out on the trapeze.

I was just thinking I should take my hat off before losing it when the wind really started howling. Nice whitecaps were picking up, which on an inland lake means a pretty good blow. Then followed a series of errors. I saw the leeward hull starting to go underwater, and I figured that meant trouble. I told my older son to go forward, when I should have said move aft! He was also holding the mainsheet, and kept it nicely sheeted in. My youngest son was out on the wire, controlling the jib, and he had it sheeted in so it was giving us a lot of power. I think I might have turned downwind a little as well, accidentally.

Anyway, that leeward hull dug in deeper at the same time the wind picked up even more. All of a sudden, we were in a slowmotion pitchpole! The back of the boat came up, the hulls dug in, and over we went! My youngest son went for a ride up by the forestay, as he was still on the trapeze wire. I came down on my middle son's leg, and somehow I got my own leg twisted up in the jib sheet. That gave a little excitement as I lay in the water with my leg caught up in some ropes above my head. I have a nice rope burn on my shin and lost a good bit of hair. Anyway, I looked around and saw that we were all OK, although somewhat shocked.

So there we were in the middle of the lake, with the Hobie on its side and the three of us in the water. I had read about righting a Hobie, and we had a righting line (thanks to the seller of the boat for that one!) but of course reading how to right a boat is not the same as actually doing it...especially when you have just had the shi#&* scared out of you. But we all hung on the righting line and waited, and sure enough, the boat flopped back over. We jumped up, and I yelled, "Sheet in and feel the magic!" Away we went...with a little more caution.

The nice thing is, we won't be afraid of pitchpoling again, and we know how to right the Hobie. It was actually pretty fun, definitely character building. As someone once said, "It isn't a sport if it can't kill you."

3 comments:

Steven said...

Awesome! I'm hoping to buy my own Hobie soon...I live in Huntington Beach which is great for the harbor sailing but the wind can really pick up there in the afternoon. I'm sure I'll have a similar experience sooner or later!

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