SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

Cruising World - - Under Way -

After read­ing “The Last Wave” (Au­gust/septem­ber 2018), Jim and Joy Carey’s ac­count of a rogue wave hit­ting their boat off the Wash­ing­ton coast on June 17, 2018, I had to tell you my story. On June 16, 2018, my only brother who is not a sailor and I were go­ing into our sec­ond week aboard Trilogy, my 1988 Sabre, and we had just spent the night in the ma­rina at Gib­sons, Bri­tish Columbia.

The fore­cast for the day was 15- to 20-knot north­west winds. That was mu­sic to my ears. We reached about 2 miles into the Strait of Ge­or­gia be­fore I de­cided to turn left and go with the waves, which now were 6 feet, in 20 to 25 knots of wind. We en­joyed fast surf­ing off the waves, hit­ting 9 to 10 knots, but the wind was push­ing us to­ward shore.

We reached the city of Van­cou­ver, and now the winds were 25 to 30 knots. We had to go around Stur­geon Bank, which is the delta for the Fraser River and ex­tends out from shore 1½ to 2 miles. Since we ap­proached about the time of high tide, I was still in wa­ter 15 to 20 feet deep. But the wa­ter shal­lowed, and the waves were now 10- to 12-foot break­ers, pound­ing our star­board side.

My brother, who is a big man, was sit­ting on the port side, and I asked him to move to wind­ward to help keep the boat from heel­ing. No sooner had he moved than a rogue wave — my guess is 16 feet tall —ap­proached us. I saw it be­fore it hit us and said to my brother, “Holy mother of pearl, brace your­self.”

The wave to­tally en­gulfed the boat and slammed us into the trough, onto the rud­der, be­fore it heeled us over 45 to 50 de­grees. The stern line washed over­board and, within a minute or two, wrapped around the pro­pel­ler. The waves fin­ished us off by push­ing Trilogy aground.

We were res­cued by a Cana­dian Coast Guard hov­er­craft squadron, went to Van­cou­ver, con­tacted a tow­ing ser­vice and, eight hours later, at high tide, towed the boat to Steve­ston to as­sess the dam­age: a bent rud­der; a crack in the keel; mul­ti­ple cracks along the stringers in the bilge; three bent stan­chions; the cap­stan on the wind­less ripped off the deck due to an at­tempted tow; and a lost CQR an­chor and chain. Upon re­turn­ing to the boat, I at­tempted to start the mo­tor and broke the link­age due to the bound-up pro­pel­ler shaft.

My les­son that I learned was to al­ways tie off dock lines. I am still wait­ing for the re­pair work to be fin­ished. As any good cow­boy will tell you, when you get bucked off, you need to get back on to ride again.

Thomas Stan­ton S/V Trilogy

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