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48° NORTH, JANUARY 2011 PAGE 12


I read with great interest, the article “Small Problems turn into Big Trouble”, by Syd Stapleton, in the November issue. I own a Freedom 44, and sail out of Shilshole Marina. Relatively new to the PNW, I have been cautious in sailing Puget Sound, the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, and the islands. Having sailed the relatively calm Southern California waters for many years, I listen to stories such as this with great interest.


I’ve had two experiences in which I have gained considerable respect for what we sailors can be confronted with at seemingly a moments notice. This past July, I was single-handing my ketch from Sequim Bay to Victoria. I left at noon to flat seas and no wind. A slight westerly came down the Strats after a couple hours, so I raised the main and mizzen sails, along with a small pointing jib. Motor sailing and snoozing along on auto-pilot, I was doing 6 - 8 knots. About five miles out of Victoria, I suddenly realized I was clipping along at 10 - 14 knots. I decided to roll up the jib, but a sheet got caught on the bow light - it was stuck and the sail started to flog. I tried to free it from the cockpit to no avail. By this time I was doing 15 - 20 knots. I took the boat out of autopilot, and turned into the wind... or what I thought was into the wind! I did a complete 360 with the sails never losing power. I was also approaching two cruise ships. As I came to the harbor entrance, and a sign that telling sailboats to lower their sails, my boat and I were a mess. Lines dragging, sails flogging, a harbor patrol boat came alongside, and after looking at me and my boat, with a wave told me to pull into a side tie in front of the Empress Hotel and dry off. The other incident was a year ago coming out of


Poulsbo from a weekend Freedom Rendesvous. My engine was overheating as we entered Agate Pass and a flood tide of 5 knots. About 100 yards east of the overhead highway bridge, the engine died entirely. My experienced crew quickly dropped the anchor which unquestionably saved the boat from the huge, concrete bridge abutments. It was this second incident that I was reminded of


when reading Syd Stapleton’s article. What held my boat so securely, was a 60 lb. Bruce type anchor, plus all chain. With fuel, water, etc., my boat weighs close to 30,000 lbs. I noticed he had a 25 lb. CQR, and 20’ of chain, and replaced it with the same. It seems to me that his ground tackle is too light for a 37’ Herreshoff sailboat under most conditions, much less those he encountered.


Per Curtiss Aquavit Freedom 44 Seattle


Letters


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