East wind forecast at 15-20 knots, and gusts to 25. Two hours after high tide. I can’t quite recall my last capsize – was it off of White Banks in 2007, or on the large Bird Bank shoal in Bulls Bay the same year? So five or six years – it was time to practice this “event”. In my days of teaching sailing years ago, it was always a training exercise with our youth. There are many different reasons for a sailboat capsizing. In my youth we would have battles on our river, and free swimmers would board our boats (sailfish), grab our masts, and capsize us for fun (one “friend” added an exclamation point by not just dunking me but putting his foot on my head and propelling me toward the Navesink River bottom). But certainly one of the more spectacular means is via a jibe where the boom flies over and the turning momentum can send the boat upside down.
I had a friend and neighbor along to record this project – Brantley Arnau as videographer, situated on the end of our community’s pier. I sailed the area between this fixed point and the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway; the narrow shoal was not just the edge of the ICW but also of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Past the shell rake at the border were the glorious marshes of Cape Romain, and looking to the east beyond Bulls Bay. In viewing toward the southeast the land mass of Bull Island appeared over the marshes.
I began sailing this small area, tacking to windward and returning toward the pier by reaching and jibing. I have performed these sailing maneuvers over fifty years, and their execution has been completely intuitive, the jibe being a prime example.
I was a little disappointed that the wind was not living up to the billing in the marine forecast in terms of the velocity. I chose the jibing maneuver to execute a capsize, turning quickly and not releasing the sheet.
A nice spinout and turn head to wind, with boom dragging the water, but the capsize was not completed. Disappointing. So I continued to sail, looking for a stronger puff of wind. Finally.
Sheeting in and sailing on after righting, I noticed several things: Kingfisher‘s cockpit had about two inches of water, my waterproof Otter Box with phone inside was floating, and I had no sponge. (Inspection later proved the value of the Box). It wasn’t until after a few minutes that the difficulty I had experienced in righting Kingfisher was apparent. The mast had been stuck in the mud, a common issue when capsizing in shallow waters. My jumping in, grabbing the bow, and swimming it to windward aided in releasing the mud’s hold on the mast and sail. No damage, but an ugly looking masthead, nothing a little cleaning couldn’t fix.
All in all, it had been a nice day for a capsize.