Not the Bass Strait but...

Thread starter #1
here is a story that belongs very good to the summer-season on the northside of our Globe...:

Capsized Laser-Sailor survived a stormy night on the Baltic Sea at the German East-Coast

Dramatic search on the Baltic Sea: Two big German Sea-Rescue-Ships and a German Navy-rescue-helicopter searched six hours long for a missed Sailor. Finally the rescue-action was abandoned – in the dark with winds on the level of 7 Bft. there was no chance to find him. But the missed man fought.

In the middle in the night it rang at the door of a house in the little coastal-village Sehlendorf at the south-beach of the Hohwacht-Bay (Germany). The inhabitants were irritated: Who should want something from them at three o'clock a.m.?
Distrustfully they opened: There, a man stood in the stormy night, wet, freezing, to death, exhausted and only with swimming-shorts dressed.

Actually the 39-years old man from the island Fehmarn (German island between the Bay of Kiel and the Bay of Luebeck-Travemuende; the translator) had wanted to make only a nice small afternoon-sailingtrip at the beachside of the village Lemkenharbor in the southwest of Fehmarn-Island . At 19 o'clock he is back again, he yesterday (July 04th) had announced to his wife, before he started off with his tiny "Laser"-sailing-boat from the dock of Lemkenharbour on the Baltic Sea island Fehmarn. At that time it was 16:15 o'clock and a warm and sunny summerdays afterrnoon.

A "Laser" is the nutshell under the sailing-boats, measures somewhat more than four meters in the length, rises up about twenty centimeters out of the water and offers place for one sailor. Such boats capsize fast because of their small depth, do not sink and can be rised up fast again. Normally.

The sailor was not yet for a long time on the water, when the wind suddenly got strong. The water surface began itself to ripple/crinkle more strongly, the sky became darker more and more. Actually time, to return at once back to the port because the "Laser" is a fair-weather-boat (for a recreational sailor; the translator). But before the man could turn around, the misfortune took its run: A big gust of wind, a wave impact, the boat lost the balance, the mast leaned to the water, the sail smashed on the waves. The sailor fell out of the boat. And the boat pitch-poled.

The man tried to pack the sword that was rising up now into air, in order to pull the boat again upward by its body weight. But as much he tried to pull, the mast was pressed downward again by waves and wind. The boat floated keel-above in meanwhile now very rough sea. Besides, the strong wind from East blew the sailor with his dinghy more and more away from the saving beach of the Fehmarn-Island.

At 20 o'clock, the sailor should normally already had been back again in the port, ashore the first rescue activities were initiated. The German big Rescue-craft-ship `John T. Essberger´ was alarmed and left the Harbour, a craft-ship of the German Federal Border Police came in addition for the search. Additionally ascended still a Navy-SAR-helicopter, on land the Police searched on the beaches for the missed sailor. But the man remained missing.

After six hours the tired rescue-searchers abandoned their activities. The "Laser" remained untraceable. Perhaps had another boat found the man? The situation was critical: The watertemperature was only about 18 degrees Celsius. That is not cold like icewater, but if a body is for hours exposed to such temperatures, he cools down. Tiredness and Weakness stop themselves, which threatens drowning. And the sailor only had worn swimming-shorts instead of warm sailing clothes

At 2:00 in the night when the rescue ships turned back, the sailor was still on the sea. Sometimes he successful climbed back onto the hull and rest on the keelside of the boat that still was in top-down position.
Where did the wind drive them? Out on the open sea? Against 03:00 at the night, it was possible for the sailor, to see lights from the/a coast: Land ho!
With his last strength he saved himself and the boat ashore went at the next-best house and rang the doorbell.

The "unbelievable much luck the sailor had”, says Klaus Ziemer, Officer of the German Coastguard in Puttgarden to the reporter of the Newsmagazine SPIEGEL-ONLINE. "the wind could have turned and the man would have been floated out to the open sea to Denmark."
Instead of that, the man had been rinsed by the current onto to the beach of coast-village Sehlendorf in the Hohwacht-Bay, to the mainland. With his damaged “Laser”-nutshell it had put him about 25 kilometers from the Fehmarn-Sound with bad weather conditions over the open sea to the Bay of Hohwacht.
Someone different would not have had perhaps the constitution, in order to get over such strains. The 39 years old sailor was completely weakly, otherwise however intact, communicated the Police.

In the meantime he returned at home on Fehmarn with his damaged Laser (broken tiller, broken mast and beared sail). Thanks God!

This “reality-adventure” I have translated from the original, a report from Roman Heflik from the German Newsmagazine “Spiegel” ( July 05th 2005,,1518,363731,00.html )
P.S.: This is one of already 3 of such situations that happened during the last two weeks at the coats of Germany...

What can we learn from this story?:

a)Before we plan to go out with our Laser, we should go and have a deep look to the actual weatherforecast and do not decide to go out, when they say that a big storm is coming soon, although in the moment the actual-weather maybe is very sunny, warm and not windy. Ok?!!

b) don´t leave the harbour without a good life-jacket on board and better already suited if we sail alone


c) never sail without the correct sailing cloths (Minimum: ¾-FarmerJohn-Neoprenewetsuit plus spraytop)

But what we also can think about?

Although I never wish someone such an adventure like the German sailor had and I´m sure I would not be able to think about anything else than staying alive as long as possible I also think it is better to be prepared (a bit) for such situations.

What was possible to do in such a situation without that what the sailor already had done in the right way (f.e. stay with the boat and not trying the nonsense to start swimming back to the seeming near coast alone)

Not forgetting always to rigg the Centerboard-bungee and retaining strap for the mast and the rudderblade? Take a little pocketknife always onboard to have one if it is needed to cut the sail (and make f.e. a survival-poncho out of a part of the sail and using the rest for a survival-storm-sail)? Learn how to make a survival-paddle out of the rest of the broken spars? Using the boom as compensation-part for the broken tiller? Having always a correct working survival-light on the life-jacket?

I´m sure you have more interesting ideas to that aspect of our sport. Tell us all your advises.

See you on the water
it is really funny when someone who doesnt know the sport or the correct terminology writes an article on it (ex."The man tried to pack the sword that was rising up now into air")
Thread starter #3
sailor327 said:
it is really funny when someone who doesnt know the sport or the correct terminology writes an article on it (ex."The man tried to pack the sword that was rising up now into air")
Sam, yes, it´s funny and maybe I´m also a "master" in translation into the so called "English for runnaways" but, before I gave my "very special" way to the words above, I used online an automatic-translation software... and this sentence you quote was exact what this software (Systran) made out of the German words... ;) In future I better not use such a sofware again, but doing it all alone I would need to much time, sorry...
LooserLu, You did a great job considering you relied on direct translation. I am an English teacher who works with a big population of native-Spanish speakers, and the idioms always lead to some amusement. I think your translation is really good considering your abuility; let's see how many English speakers can translate as well from English into German! Maybe an elevator would become a travelling-chair! lol Even J.F. Kennedy could have used help translating to German, lest we forget his calling himself a jelly-donut, ie. Berliner. By the way, what you call the "nutshell" is the hull, and yes, the word hull also means nutshell. Knowing you are from Germany, I was able to mentally-retranslate your word-choice "sword" for dagger-board; a dagger is a kind of short flat-bladed knife, while in English a sword is longer than a dagger and can be either skinny/thin or wide and flat.
Thanks for sharing the story and taking the time to translate for us. You rock.


LooserLu said:

c) never sail without the correct sailing cloths (Minimum: ¾-FarmerJohn-Neoprenewetsuit plus spraytop)

Hi Ludwig,

Thanks for the story. Despite a few translation blips it's understandable and interesting. I have to disagree with your minimum sailing clothing though. You'd die of heat stroke wearing a 3/4 farmer john and spraytop in Ohio in the summer. No joke. That does give us a dilemma here, because hours in the water will still cause hypothermia. I always check the weather forecast before I go out, but I'm more concerned about the "lightning rod" sticking up from my Laser than I am about a turtled Laser. I can always climb on top of the hull (with some effort!) to get out of the water.