I was sailing with Artur, a part-time sailor and a sailing enthusiast and we were taking Kvark out for a circuit around Saadjärve.
I decided not to raise the mainsail before we were out of the harbour and only hoisted the polytarp jib. This was our mistake. We took our usual heading aiming for straight across the lake, with us approximately perpendicular to the wind.
As we were fussing with the mainsail which had twists in it, I did not notice our fairly strong drift from the course towards the shore on our starboard. In addition to this, we were slowly being forcing into a jibe towards the shore, with little margin to manoeuvre. Suddenly we felt that we were thrown onto a rocky bank.
At this moment Artur kicked into Viking-mode, stripped down, jumped into the water and took a line out to pull us off the rocks. I maintained a heel while Artur tacked us manually to a course that enabled us to sail close to the wind but away from the shore and thankfully into more open waters.
Our little jib was causing us considerable headache as its sheet provided very little input and I had to maintain practically the full rudder to hold course. In addition to this, during the most stressful times on the rocks, the bearing blocks through which the jib sheets run through snagged and became inoperable – a huge headache when you’re wrestling the rudder and two other lines. The blocks were originally placed in a temporary location which is the root of the problem but that will be addressed next season.
I have to say that for a small lake such as Saadjärve, there were considerable waves and it would have been exciting to battle the wind and the spray, especially with my almost non-existent sailing experience. Alas, we were unable to raise the mainsail due to twists which were exacerbated by the side wind. I couldn’t hold course into the wind either in order to unload the sail to untwist it, so at this point I decided to stow it below before it started causing any shenanigans.
We could have unravelled it below deck but because I had such little control over the vessel and the only successful manoeuvre I could pull off was a jibe, we headed back to port. Docking was surprisingly uneventful as I had become a bit more accustomed with the jib and I had Artur’s help.
Now it was time to survey the damage. The usually at least partially gleaming white deck was marked by long red streaks of blood (Artur’s foot had a tiny gash from the rocks) – we looked like a bunch of raggedy sailors half-naked and bloodied, coming home from a sea battle. We will have to check for damage once we lift the boat out of the water but in my estimation there shouldn’t be more than a few scratches and scrapes on the keel – it’s still heartbreaking, I know.
Lessons learned from this experience: have a plan B for when the original manoeuvre doesn’t work out, but better yet, have a proper plan A!
No pictures this time because on Sunday I dropped my friend’s phone into the lake…