Last summer my husband and I bought an old 25 foot sailboat. After about a month of ownership, we decided to take three of our friends out for a 3 hour tour. The day before I bought brand new water shoes for the trip. But we had one small problem the evening of the cruise, not enough wind. We decided to have a cook out on shore and in the process broke the first rule of boating safety by consuming alcoholic beverages.
It was a warm July evening. I wore my capris and a t-shirt. After supper, the wind picked up out of nowhere. We were ready for the quick sunset cruise out to the lighthouse and back maybe five miles from shore. Once we made it to the lighthouse, the wind was really whipping and there were three foot waves. We thought it would be a really great idea to see how fast the boat could go. We did get the boat to go fast, faster than we have seen it go since. The problem was that the boat went fast in the wrong direction. When we got done testing the speed, we were 15 miles north of where we were supposed to be and it was getting dark.
In the meantime, my friend and I needed to use the bathroom. We had a toilet on board, but we didn’t know how to use it. After using the facilities, we were supposed to pull a lever to empty the contents into a lower compartment. We didn’t do that. As a gracious host, I had my friend use the bathroom first. When it was my turn, I opened the lid as we hit a wave and spilled the contents down my legs onto my new water shoes. Great, now I am soaked in my friend’s urine. No problem, I had extra clothes on board, right?! Well, no.
Now it was dusk and we were lost. The depth finder was not working, the GPS coordinates did not take into account that there was land between point A and point B, we had no maps, and our cell phones all died. To make matters worse, we were almost out of gas. We were in deep water! Every time we tried getting close to shore we would ground out, using what little gas we had left to get ourselves out. When we went out to deep water we hit some big waves spraying us with water. I was freezing after being soaked with urine and water not to mention the drop in temperature after dark. I used the spider filled sail cover to stay warm. One of our thrill seeker friends thought it would be a good idea to dance around on the wet bow much to his wife’s dismay. They ended up falling asleep at midnight. My husband spent the night steering the boat while his other buddy and I worked the jib sheet. Our minds started playing tricks on us and we were afraid of hitting dark objects in the water. At 5 AM I couldn’t take it anymore and had to go to sleep. Geez, all that and I missed the sunrise!! In daylight we were able to get back to shore. We almost made it to the harbor when we ran out of gas. My husband jumped into the water and had to swim the boat to shore.
We made it home at 7 AM the day after our three hour cruise. My body was swaying back and forth for the next couple of days. The day after we got back I decided to go for a 6 mile run even though I was still swaying and felt like crap. It was the hardest run ever because I ended up coming down with pneumonia that day.
What did we learn from our (in)experience? I am now toilet trained, we carry extra gas, extra water, and bought an additional phone battery charger. I have extra blankets, sweaters, sleeping bags, shorts, pants, coat, robe, and rain gear that stays on the boat just in case we are foolish enough to have another accidental, overnight sail.