|Date: Friday, May 4, 2018. 1121Z
|Location: 53.1631° N, 9.0760° W — Aughinish
|WX: 12 knots from SE (235°). 14°. Waves: 0.5m
“Nobody touch anything!” was Niall’s clear instruction to one and all.
It was a strange perspective, sitting on the high side of a Sigma 33,
staring down at the sea directly below.
As a dinghy sailor, I’m used to capsizing.
I’m used to that slow-motion car crash as you traverse
through the mental states of “yes, we can hold the spinnie on this reach”,
through “I don’t think we’ll make it” and eventually “we’re going in…”
Before I sailed and raced dinghies, I had expected a capsize to be a dramatic,
One minute, you’re upright, sailing along enjoying the scenery.
A brief nanosecond later, and you’re in the water with sail
and boat on top of you.
As it happens, it’s not like that.
The boat heels and heels some more,
releasing pressure as she increases the heel angle.
But eventually gravity and Newton’s Laws intervene,
and over she goes.
It might take seconds, but it does indeed feel like minutes.
There have been times when the capsize has been quite dramatic,
Including that one particular time when Morgan and I decided to run dead downwind
under spinnaker, in a Force 6.
It was during the Laser II Regionals, and we smiled and laughed at the other boats
under white sails, gybing their way downwind.
Pride comes before a fall, as they might have said to us.
But this was different.
This was a large, heavy keelboat on her ear.
The technical definition of a capsize is the masthead is in the water.
This wasn’t quite a capsize, then, but the masthead was definitely
on the verge of going for a dip.
The result of a nasty broach under spinnaker while
ten miles offshore.
Ten miles through bleak, drizzly Irish summer weather.
The Mizzen Lighthouse was to the North of us, indistinct on the horizon.
It’s an odd sensation, seeing the starboard lifelines under water,
waves lapping over the winch and into the cockpit, even threatening the
companionway, noticeably missing its washboards.