Monday, June 17, 2019


I capsized last week for the first time. Ever. 

Those who have been here for a while will recognize the eighteen foot long Saga, a design based on the Norwegian faering. She has taken me hundreds of nautical miles and though she's a vulnerable open vessel, I have complete confidence in her.

We had some lively seas that day and had weathered them fine for several hours. The journey nearly at an end, we found ourselves in a protected bight with no breeze, sitting very still.

A surprise gust of wind hit and before I could release the mainsheet, water was cascading over the coaming . I forgot how fluky the South Puget Sound winds can be. A fellow named Dave up on the bank heard me from where he was working in his garage and came out in his skiff. (I'd lost both cell phone and VHF radio, was cursing my predicament and yelling for help. I have very healthy lungs.).

In the meantime, a Coast Guard helicopter, two fire departments, a local first-responder group on jet skis and a fire-boat showed up. I was in the water about an hour and had hypothermia.

When Dave showed up, I was focused solely on getting Saga righted, and bless him, against his better judgment, tried to help. We did get the boat upright but she was awash and we had to abandon her to get me to shore. He was shocked that I could pull myself up on his swim platform, but that's what adrenaline is for.

A fire department first aid truck group brought my body temperature back up, blood pressure down, so there was no trip to the hospital. The fire-boat brought Saga into Boston Harbor and pumped her out. Lost some stuff, but got my boat back. And lived to tell the story.

I am in debt to a small army of highly trained people and one savvy local mariner. That's what this epistle is about. A big shout-out to all those who protect us against ourselves.


Anonymous said...

Amazing that you've sailed small boats this long and avoided a capsize. Glad to hear you came out of it relatively unscathed. Both of my capsizes have been in company with a mob of Coots... so lots of help to hand.

Bob Triggs said...

I'm so glad to hear that you're alright. All's well that ends well.

Bursledon Blogger said...


Very glad to hear that you are OK. It's a sobering reminder that open boats no matter how well founded and how experienced the crew, can capsize and the problems arising.

all credit and thanks to everyone who helped you.


Unknown said...

Hello Mike, Glad to hear you are safely ashore and have a story to tell. Hope all is well. Keep on smiling.

Life is good.


doryman said...

Life is indeed good, JB. Sometimes we need a reminder. Max, Just the right conditions, circumstances or poor judgement can spawn surprises. That's why we call them accidents. Bob,I consider this a "heads up".

Bruce Bateau said...

That sounds like quite a tale. A dramatic way to come back to the blog, that's for sure.

Welcome to the club. I've done several practice dumps, but in my years I've only had one actual knockdown- in November, all alone on the Columbia River near Portland.

Well, now you know what it's like and hopefully can make adjustments to be more prepared for the next time.

Hope to see you this summer.

Scott said...

Hi Michael,
I'm glad you are alright. That is one of my big fears and I know I should prepare more for the possibility. Your write up of your experience is a big wake up call for the rest of us. Thank you!

Hope to see you on the water.

doryman said...

Aye,preparation. I'm afraid there were some impulsive, possibly even rash decisions made that day. The greatest being that there were too many loose items in the boat. My first impulse was to right the boat, but movement was inhibited by floating objects, which of course were a nuisance and a distraction.
I don't do practice capsizes. For the last forty years, I've worn prosthetic gear, due to the loss of my legs in a car accident. This gear is expensive and not intended for water immersion, let alone salt water.Thus, in the case I find myself swimming unexpectedly, my first thought is of what damage might occur to that gear, which costs much more than my boat.Odd where your mind goes in an emergency.

JL in Jersey said...

We sail a 16 foot Faering. We have a very clever set of inflatable sponsons that fit under outer gunnel. They have saved us several times and make boarding and leaving boat very easy. They sit high enough that they do not interfere with rowing or sailing except during heavy wind. They are hydrodynamic so no real loss in performance. They can be removed or installed in minutes. They were made for under 200 dollars but have really helped keep some older baby boomers into small boats. Can send pictures


doryman said...

Thank you, John, I know I should consider sponsoning, but I'm a proud old bastard and will continue to tempt fate. The rest of the sailing season was pleasant and uneventful.