Video: How To Get In Way Over Your Head... Literally


Active Member
Thread starter #1
This is 50 minutes south of where I live, launching from China Camp State Park and venturing out into San Pablo Bay.

Someone needs a sailing instructor. I mean... when you don't even know how to secure a cleated line. At least he had some safety gear and didn't give up.

- Andy :eek:

Last edited:


Well-Known Member
:eek: Why I prefer to sail in "light and variable winds".

Can't say I've ever stood atop my turtled Sunfish. :confused: Notice the ample use of MarineTex on the bottom of the hull?

My speakers faded out, so I couldn't hear the monologue. :( Clicking to "View on YouTube" turned them back on. :confused:

IMO, for those winds and seas, the boom should have been rigged much lower than where it was located. Of all the things he rescued after each capsize, the paddle should have been the first item.

And why name one's boat for an enemy submarine, whose "successful sinking" included ships of neutral countries?
German submarine U-123 (1940) - Wikipedia


Active Member
Someone leave him a message and get him on the forum, I think we can help him out,
if he still has the boat that is.

He forgot the number one rule, before you leave the dock tell someone where you're going
and when you expect to be back.

Cam-cleat on the main sheet, mistake number two and a big no for a Sunfish.

One hour with a instructor and he could have easily handled the conditions.


Upside down?
Staff member
I agree that his persistence is admirable. And he did have safety gear with him. All good.
But his sailing skills, not so much...

Andy, what do you think the wind was? I estimate ~15 mph from the whitecaps.

PS: raising the sail like he does is very hard indeed.

1. There's no need to lower the rig in the first place
2. Wait for the boat to head into the wind before raising the sail
3. Raise the sail by pulling down on the halyard; you may have to sit on your knees on the deck



Well-Known Member
I think the halyard parted from the upper spar. :( He tied it back on, but I couldn't make out the knot. Unless there was a metal clip on the spar, he relied on the sail rings to hold it place. :confused:

He mentioned losing the paddle—looking back, it was secured with a line, but not well knotted. A loose carabiner clip appears on the bottom of the cockpit as he bails. I would have bailed the cockpit as dry as possible before proceeding.

While the winds appear over 12-MPH (at least), there's a lot of wave action which could be accompanying an incoming tide. Tidal surges combined with the wind—note how the wind blasts the mic—would be challenging. (But I sail on lakes, so that's only a guess).

He skips the cam cleat before "heading for home".

Fullscreen capture 6182017 85959 PM.bmp.jpg

When I saw a halyard secured by a cam cleat next to the cockpit, I thought, "That's for me". So I installed one. (Is that a Phantom design feature)? With your whole weight (well, with my whole weight ;)), raising the sail is easy. Dropping the sail is also easy when approaching a tree-lined shoreline.


beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I would have bailed the cockpit as dry as possible before proceeding.
L and VW - In that breeze, the auto bailer will have the cockpit empty in about a minute!

Andy - he claims he is in San Francisco bay - I looked and see San Pablo bay connects to SF bay - wonder if he even knew where he was!! Here is his full description from Youtube: Sailing a Sunfish sailboat in 20 knot gusts in the middle of the San Francisco Bay!! Three capsizes, broken halyard shackle, lost paddle, lost bailing bucket, random rain-shower, and finally abandoned the beached dinghy. Walked across a mile of soggy marsh land and had to swim across a river onto dry land. So much fun!

Wonder how he needed a halyard shackle on a Sunfish! I feel like posting something to him on Youtube - like "stay on shore before you kill yourself" but figure he probably won't listen. He also added this answer when someone asked him about his trip: Hoisted 10% of the sail and let the wind and current push me leeward to shore since I was in the opposite side of the bay. Basically the last 30 second of the video --(but again that part took actually took 2 hours).

You are right - way over his head.


Active Member
I'm guessing he put a shackle on the mast cap? If so that's going to make it hard to raise
the sail. The sheet got hung up on the second capsize to the boat rolled over again. He
just needs some time on a Inland Lake where every direction is towards shore. Learning
in a Bay has too many things going on and a whole lot of nowhere to get lost in. Add the
difficulty of weight shift and the results are pretty much as advertised. I'd like to know
he got his boat back and is not discouraged enough to chuck the whole matter.
Why would you put this on youtube? Why would you name your boat after a submarine?! The mind boggles.

I noticed he also has this on his youtube Chanel. Ha ha.



Active Member
Thread starter #11
Wavedancer wrote: "Andy, what do you think the wind was? I estimate ~15 mph from the whitecaps."

I think in the gusts it was probably higher than that. When he bears away and even goes beyond a broad reach, he's going pretty fast.

Beldar Boathead wrote: "he claims he is in San Francisco bay - I looked and see San Pablo bay connects to SF bay - wonder if he even knew where he was!!"

I think he knew where he was. He has sailed from that spot before.

Webfoot1 wrote: "One hour with a instructor and he could have easily handled the conditions."

I agree. I think that pretty much says it all. He was game to try to salvage the situation but just didn't know what he was doing. Even an experienced sailing partner in another boat at the time could have helped a great deal. I think it all started to go south when he discovered he couldn't tack in that strong air. That's when he first capsized.

When there is a strong onshore gradient, that area of San Pablo Bay really blows hard. Knowing the layout of the area, I'm guessing he limped his way downwind all the way across that section of San Pablo Bay to the leeward shore somewhere in the marshes. Must have been a nasty, protracted walk out.

Anyone here got a YouTube channel? We could send him a message and direct him here for help.

- Andy
I was really surprised to see that he tied himself to the boat - a "lifeline" I think he called it. (As he praised it over and over again.....after righting the boat down wind of the boom :eek: ). Seems like a really bad idea to me. Seems like it would add an extra thing to get tangled on and held under by. As my limited experience dictates, in heavy winds, a sunfish will just capsize nearby if no one is at the helm (weatherhelm) why tie yourself to anything? Seems like a foolishnthing to do.

Keep me honest here,


Active Member
The boat will not go far capsized but can run downwind by itself if the sheet gets tangled
in the tiller. Trying to search for someone bobbing alone in the water is about the same as
trying to find a floating soccer ball when you don't know where it's at. In this case I'd say
two wrongs made a right. As long as he had a capsized boat to sit on his chances of rescue
were greatly increased in both being spotted and survival time. You order of emergency is
always to try to save the boat first or stay with what's left of the boat as long as possible.
So, your telling me that the Sunfish will continue to sail by itself, and to tie myself to the boat with a line. That does not sound right at all to me. I doubt he had the gooseneck adjusted to remove any weatherhelm - which he prob shouldn't have, right? For just such a reason?

Stay close to the boat...yes....... tie myself to the boat...... not so sure on that one. Help me out here, fellas'.

Any other perspectives? Beldar?..... light and Variable?...... mr. Gloss?......... my2fish?

interesting conversation.... im looking forward to gettiing more opinions on this subject now......
Last edited:


Active Member
I did it many years ago, Sunfish sailed downwind just fine without me. I know
the Sunfish I was using had excessive weather helm but the wind was very light.
I don't see any reason for a saftey line in a small inland lake. Shore is close and
usually there are eyes on the lake. Out in a bay with currents far from shore,
no eyes on you, well, your boat is your survival. If you're single handing a keel boat
or the only watch on deck you need a saftey line. I can see how it translates down
to a Sunfish if you push the recreational aspects of the Sunfish a little farther than
they were intended. The guy did do some important things correctly. He had a
wet suit, a life jacket and most importantly, a commitment to stay with the boat.
I can only fault him with not sticking close to shore during the learning process
and not having a friend on shore keeping eyes on him. Well, maybe that and
tying a milk jug to the mast.