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How to signal LACK of distress?

DiMoCA

New Member
So I took the '82 fish out this week, for what will likely be the last sail of the season, with a plan to carry out a capsize and recovery drill. I've been sailing very conservatively since I bought the boat in August, because it's been years since I single-handed. Most days the wind has been light and gentle, with one notable exception -- a 24 mph gust came up out of nowhere and ripped the sheet right out of my hands. I was lucky not to fall overboard even though the sail was now as depowered as possible under those conditions. But it served as a warning, and so I went out in calmer weather, fully prepared to learn how my middle-aged frame would handle the "scramble back on board" aspect.

There were a couple of other boats going out, and I told both that I was going to intentionally capsize, maybe more than once. I had a Hydroskin wetsuit on, good PFD, and my cell phone in a waterproof sleeve. One skipper was a little dubious: "So you don't want me to come over, because you're not going to be in trouble?" and I said "If I really do get in trouble you'll see a blinking light." At this he relaxed. I sailed for a few minutes, put the boat over, and found the best way back up -- which took a couple of tries and turned out to be hauling myself up by the mast. The whole thing -- two capsizes back to back, then the recovery -- took less than ten minutes total. Beautiful warm sunlight, cool water, no issues.

And.... as I was sailing peacefully down the lake .... what should I hear but an outboard motor, coming right at me! Despite all that planning someone had called the police when they saw the sail go over. The guy had the grace to look a bit sheepish, because obviously all was now fine, and he took my word that the capsize had been intentional.

So I am here to ask: how could this have been avoided? Is there any signal that can indicate to watchers that you do not need to be rescued, or is the custom for any motorboat to come up to any sailboat that goes over for longer than a few seconds?
 

klemsaba

Member
I wouldn’t tell people how to determine if you are in trouble. What if the blinking light didn’t work or you were under the sail? I don’t want to train other boaters to ignore sailboats. Let them come over to check on you. A quick “I’m good. Thanks for checking!” is all that is needed. Or ask them to stay a few minutes to make sure you’re back on and ready to continue.

Police boat coming out is interesting. Nice to have concerned people watching. It was good training for the boat crew if nothing else.
 

hilulover

New Member
There is no way the other boat will know what the signal you are sending means. So here is what I recommend. On both halves of the hull (on the bottom) paint “I don’t need help” in huge letters, and also bring a towel with you when you sail. If you flip and you are ok, your message is obvious. If you need help, throw the towel over the “don’t”. Then what your boat will say is “I need help.” Simple!!
 

Alan S. Glos

Well-Known Member
There is no shame in having somebody stand by after a capsize. Last summer I turtled my Sunfish in a freak windshift and it took me longer than usual
to get the boat righted and underway again. Our club crash boat came over asked me if I needed assistance. I declined but it was nice to know that help was there if it were needed.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

Fremont

Member
Hah! Yeah, I've had people come by to help me during a capsize. I always thank them profusely, because you never know.
The funniest was on Lake Mendota, when I turtled a dinghy to take a nap in the sunshine on the bottom of the hull. I was pretty much asleep when the lake lifesaving boat drove up and woke me up to see if I needed help.
 

arsweb

New Member
I'm jealous you have such helpful boaters concerned and ready to help. The lake I sail has people who ignore safe boating laws and more than once I've had to redirect or turn into the wind at the last moment to avoid a speed boat passing within a few yards. Most have the audacity to wave and then not bother to look back at the ridiculous wake crashing over my hull. I specifically don't sail most weekends because the boat traffic and lack of respect is scary.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I'm jealous you have such helpful boaters concerned and ready to help. The lake I sail has people who ignore safe boating laws and more than once I've had to redirect or turn into the wind at the last moment to avoid a speed boat passing within a few yards. Most have the audacity to wave and then not bother to look back at the ridiculous wake crashing over my hull. I specifically don't sail most weekends because the boat traffic and lack of respect is scary.
Sounds like my lake--where a canoe is a rare sight.

Last month, a kayak was run over, and the 34-foot powerboat left the scene! (Kayaker survived to tell his tale). The lake's forum members suggested kayaks display a red flag!

(https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oAuMiltDhuM/XBaGtpnfd2I/AAAAAAAAI60/d-7_Y5VS3fI7KSRmLErVgmXuwM-WzGFCwCLcBGAs/s1600/boatontopofsailboat3.jpg)
 

reedhedges

New Member
There are a few sailors that like to come out to our local lake when the wind's particularly strong and being a not-large lake that usually means contending with lots of gusts and shifts etc and a capsize is not uncommon but we always look out for each other and swing by to make sure that someone isn't struggling or unconscious or whatever.
 

Fremont

Member
I'm jealous you have such helpful boaters concerned and ready to help.
Well..we have some jackasses too. Like the lady in the powerboat who cut me off and yelled at me that I was endangering a different motorboat that was pulling a bunch of kids on a tube. Not sure how, since I wasn't within 100 yards of them. The ‘lady’ seemed to think I should be sailing directly into the wind.
 
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Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Yeah, some of those powerboat operators are absolutely clueless... as someone said earlier in this thread, I made a point of NOT going sailing on holiday weekends and other crowded days, too many drunks who had NO CLUE about the 'Rules of the Road.' :eek:

And ya know that scene can get DANGEROUS... even in Dago we had folks killed on a somewhat regular basis, usually with alcohol and ignorance involved. Alcohol by itself isn't a problem IF the operators know what they're doing, but I reckon that's asking too much on a crowded holiday weekend... ;)

Saddest death of all was that of a young girl on Mission Bay, she was struck by an errant PWC in the shallows... funniest wrecks ever seen were those with craft stranded high & dry on the rocks of Zuniga Jetty, hulls ripped open like sardine cans, LOL. That has to be some embarrassing $h!t... :rolleyes:

I'd see those wrecks up close in following days, while I was out sailing once the marine traffic died down... I'd cross the submerged jetty within a stone's throw of some of these wrecks, the bottoms torn out of those craft, LOL. Best know what yer doing when ya mess with Zuniga Jetty, it's unforgiving, LOL. :D

Spooky too, gliding across with those black rocks just below... gotta raise your daggerboard and sometimes your rudder (to 45 degrees or higher) when crossing the jetty, otherwise those sharp teeth will rip $h!t apart, LOL. When ya do it right, timing the swell, it's AWESOME, and it saves ya time on approach to the beach. :cool:

P.S. Man, that moonrise is sweet, looks like a big ol' circular yellow cheese, LOL... it actually looks better tonight than it did last night, it's really a mellow golden color tonight. Maybe I can carve a bit off to go in my next burrito, AYE??? Better do it before it gets any higher, otherwise it'll be out of reach... :)

Oh, yeah, forgot to mention those wrecks which wound up under the Point (or Pt. Loma in San Diego), same deal with boats on the rocks, LOL... sailboats too, usually laid over on their sides once the tide ebbed far enough. Again, some embarrassing $h!t... the dumb@$$es, LOL. :confused:
 
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