Sounded good on paper” – he said.
Which was even odder to say, as in that situation, the paper would be soaking in water, and the ink running.
This is a somewhat embarrassing story about my seamanship. It happened a couple of years ago. At the time, we just got our hands on a small boat, and we set out for the maiden voyage, together with my daughter Eva and her boyfriend Ben. Boated around, as boaters often do, and we decided to anchor at a nearby beach, facing the Gulf of Mexico. It was a particularly windy day, so waves were hitting the beach. Ben being the shipmate, I discussed the maneuver with him, and he seemed to agree. We would approach the beach, and once about 30 feet from it, I would turn around to face the waves, Ben would throw the anchor on the front, and we would just let the boat drift back towards the beach and get off on the transom side.
So we did, except, that I probably either underestimated the size of the waves or overestimated the height of our bow; but as soon as we turned around facing the gulf, a huge wave came across our bow and virtually inundated the small boat, adding easily about 300 lbs to the load. I am not exaggerating here, the boat was about to sink. The bow began to dive, taking in some more water. The water slushing around was making the boat rock from side to side. We could sink this boat after just days of getting it.
Almost in a panic, with three other people on the boat, I did the only thing I could think of: abort. I slammed the throttle lever forward. All the way. Thankfully, the boat was ridiculously over-engineered, and quickly going full throttle raised the bow above the waves. We moved forward, gaining some stability, and started leaving the breaking waves. With the boat tilted backward, the water inside the boat came rushing back to us, everything was wet, stuff was floating all around, and I started to worry about the engine compartment getting flooded. But between full-throttle out and some help of a yet untested but operational bilge-pump, we were cruising again.
We got really lucky. We were not in life danger by any means, the beach was a few yards away when all this happened and we could have probably swum out. Maybe even walk out. But losing the boat on its first trip and having to ask for someone to take us back to the dock would have been quite a blow to self-esteem at least, and I would have probably gotten some fines for littering as well.
That’s when he said it. It sure looked good on paper. In other words, our strategy was sort of OK, but the execution, not so much. We were able to react and change our strategy.
When you get caught by waves, your ability to change your strategy and having access to some spare resources can keep you afloat.