A pleasant day of sailing on the bay...
April 5, 2005 7:57 PM   Subscribe

Pictures of a not so pleasant day of sailing on the bay...
posted by H. Roark (47 comments total)
Good thing those two surfers were there to rescue Captain Stupid.
posted by Guerilla at 8:06 PM on April 5, 2005

Wow...thanks for sharing. I've had frightening moments sailing beneath the GGB but nothing like that!
posted by Como Gomez at 8:08 PM on April 5, 2005

posted by tomharpel at 8:19 PM on April 5, 2005

As photos #50 and #51 can attest, apparantly it was a very pleasant day for surfing.

Before I jump on the "Captain Stupid" bandwagon though, can someone with some sailing experience explain to me whether the outcome was entirely avoidable, and if so, where did this guy screw up? (Other than getting into the boat, of course.)
posted by DaShiv at 8:22 PM on April 5, 2005


I guess Poseidon doesn't like puns.
posted by Maxson at 8:23 PM on April 5, 2005

Ditto what DaShiv said.

This landlubber doesn't understand why the captain lost his boat. The waves didn't seem all that big, but I know nothing about boats.
posted by teece at 8:28 PM on April 5, 2005

Not particularly salty, but generally where you see waves breaking, that is that is the same place a sailboat is going to be breaking. Sailboats have a deep draw. That had to be a rental/charter, no sane sailor would have had a fixed keel boat near the surf like that.
posted by protagonist at 8:41 PM on April 5, 2005

You're supposed to go white water rafting you idiot! I know nothing about boats either, but that's the way I'd talk if it was a close friend too.
posted by substrate at 8:41 PM on April 5, 2005

As a non-sailer I can say that boats are not supposed to be in the surf line. If they are, something bad is likely to happen. I also don't understand why this guy has his sails up at Fort Point which has huge tidal flows. That's what motors are for.
posted by rdr at 9:13 PM on April 5, 2005

He failed to steer perpindicular to the line of the waves. You can see him get all diagonal and then... whoopsie! Ideally you want to go into waves like that (if at all, see comments above) nose first; second choice, nose out; last (and very probably final) choice, sideways.
posted by hob at 9:18 PM on April 5, 2005

Damn jet ski wakes!

And nice to see a few kiteboarders off in the distance in a few pics there.
posted by HTuttle at 9:46 PM on April 5, 2005

I've been in a power boat overtaken by a giant (and completely random) wave from a tanker and it was pretty freaky and very startling to say the least. This appears to be seriously bad navigation, poor positioning and probably isn't the first time this has happened in this spot.

Looks like it was a great day for kite/wind surfing!
posted by shoepal at 9:58 PM on April 5, 2005

Ive done alot of sailing, mostly in smaller boats- some that you could surf right up to the beach. My reaction to photo #1 was "What the f--- is that idiot doing?" protagonist has it right. He shouldna been where he was. First time thru I thought he ran aground. But NO! Swamped by breaking waves over the port quarter! Avast me hearties!
posted by pointilist at 9:59 PM on April 5, 2005

pitchpole and yaw come to mind.
posted by shoepal at 10:05 PM on April 5, 2005

I've done a lot of sailing and racing on the bay and what this guy did was SUPREMELY stupid. He attempted to sail between the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and the shore. It gets very shallow there and in any sort of an ebb tide the waves get massive.

No bay sailor worth his salt (yes, I did say that) would make a mistake like that.
posted by chrismetcalf at 10:08 PM on April 5, 2005

Holy squid - OUCH.

I love how the surfers show up - right when you expect to see paramedics.
posted by scarabic at 10:22 PM on April 5, 2005

Arg. Indeed the keel were shallow on thar craft. Fool's craft. Let's be thankful no women or children were aboard....just one Captain Stupid probably trying to fry wienies on a hibachi when the Lord frowned on him. Seriously, photo # whatever shows a stubby keel...so if it were a rental, I hope some lawyers pounce on this. Your wife, brother, etc., could have rented that death craft...
posted by Como Gomez at 10:23 PM on April 5, 2005

This is what you call running out of leeway.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:44 PM on April 5, 2005

I was impressed with all the shiny new hardware the feds had... good to see my (future...) tax dollars at work.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:46 PM on April 5, 2005

At least the surfers had a good day, and something to talk about when they got home.
posted by stateofmind_77 at 11:11 PM on April 5, 2005


"Worse yet, according to a statement made by one of the sailors following the rescue, they were trying to surf the waves. Not a good idea under the circumstances."

Well, der.

That area, Fort Point, is a beautiful place to hang out and watch surfers. Miss it.
posted by NorthernSky at 11:23 PM on April 5, 2005

That was a Santana 22. To paraphrase a certain Colonel Kilgore, "Santanas don't surf."

Breaking seas to stern? Tons of water either come down directly upon the stern and bury it, flooding aft, slowing or halting the boat and leaving it vulnerable in the surf....or the wave turns the boat violently broadside so that the wave rolls it....or it abruptly lifts the stern, causing the bow to dig in and pitchpole forward, again rolling the boat. The sails and mast go immediately (the keel will right the boat after it rolls, but the sails scoop masses of water, tearing the sails and usually breaking the mast or guys), and that's the end of any possible way of getting yourself out of danger. Ain't a-gonna work. The unsecured main hatch made for swift sinking after she rolled and dismasted.

And the two crew were lucky there were surfers in the water. No tethers of course, and I didn't see much sign of any PFDs either. In any event, man overboard in San Francisco Bay is life and death even with full safety equipment and people located quickly.

When you consider that most of the water across Northern California eventually drains out the Golden Gate, imagine the kinds of currents you get where things narrow up there. Hell, there are sometimes *standing waves* that look surfable in the Bay, resulting from current versus tide at particular places. Combine that with offshore wind, and the shallowing between the South Tower and Fort Point, and you get overhead surf, if not bigger. Thus, there are reasons why the Bay Traffic Lane runs north of South Tower, but I doubt Yachtsea's crew bothered with nuisances like charts.

When you charter in the Bay, a lot of the small print on the charter agreement notes that insurance stops the instant you take it past Golden Gate Bridge. For what it's now worth -- if they didn't before, I suspect those dudes now own that fabulous surfing ship, the Yachtsea.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:30 PM on April 5, 2005

That wreck could not have happend in a nicer spot, eh? God, I love the San Francisco Bay.
posted by pmbuko at 11:42 PM on April 5, 2005

Maybe he was checking out the nude sunbathers south of the bridge and didn't notice the rollers.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:00 AM on April 6, 2005

I keep thinking about this. The guy could easily have killed someone. He's sailing through a lineup. It was very generous of the surfers to turn around and help him.
posted by rdr at 2:27 AM on April 6, 2005

rdr, isn't it the rule that the first on the wave has priority tho?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:33 AM on April 6, 2005

this got me thinking of how much more interesting would our world be if everyone carried cameras with them at all times.

utterly random event + accessible tech to record the event + asynchronous mode of distribution + metafilter =
enhanced imagination and sense of human possibility
posted by jmccw at 3:56 AM on April 6, 2005

He really screwed up. He cleared the first wave pretty well -- you can see the green, and he had plenty of headway on, which is the trick to waves on the stern -- stay faster than the wavefront.

Then he stalled his jib -- probably some curl of wind from the bridge, and in trying to make up for that, he let the mainsheet out. All this time, he's losing headway (speed is life in waves) and Mr. Wave comes back up and eats him alive.

It looks like he let the mainsheet run -- the main's all the way out, over to starboard, before the wave hit him. Of course, that's that much more surface for the wave to much on.

I don't know the Satana 22, but I'll buy fold_and_mutilate's statement. If they were trying to surf, they were stupid -- if they were just trying to cross the wave, they screwed up. The fact that they weren't in the channel (I don't know those waters, once again, I'll take f_&_m's word for it.) is also stupid. The fact that they took those kids of seas without PFDs is stupid.

NorthernSky's link says they tripped the keel, but it doesn't look like that. They did bury the bow a bit, but that was just the angle of the wave driving it down as it built under -- same thing would happen if they'd been still, and wouldn't if they'd kept the trim and headway.

The right answer to big waves: Don't.

The right answer if you do anyway: Keep moving. Speed is life.

Waves three times larger than your boat + stupidity = Fun!

Wait until they get the bills.
posted by eriko at 4:52 AM on April 6, 2005

Shiver me timbers! there are an awful lot of first mates here on Metapirate! Arrrr!
posted by crunchland at 5:19 AM on April 6, 2005

So does the air+sea rescue/lifeguard charge for these types of event as a matter of course, or just if they can shown to be at fault ?
posted by shoez at 6:10 AM on April 6, 2005

Very cool pictures. Was the photographer standing on shore?

I'm so impressed that some of you actually know enough about sailing to be able to analyse the accident. I know nothing about boats.

Hey, where does this plank lead to?
posted by orange swan at 6:15 AM on April 6, 2005

Curse you, merciful Poseidon!
posted by leapfrog at 6:42 AM on April 6, 2005

'yachtsea'.......imaginative naming.......but more sea than yacht now.
posted by peacay at 6:45 AM on April 6, 2005

Like crunchland said. Who knew how many f'in pirates there were on the blue?

I feel stronger in their company. Now, let's get more robots and ninjas and I'll take on the world.
posted by bardic at 7:15 AM on April 6, 2005

I haven't sailed in years, but I used to sail all the time and looking through those images was a blast, I had a little narrative going to myself: Oh that guy is dumb, that close to the bridge? whoops, come about asshole, next ones gonna get ya, yup, there he goes, lost the mast, shes rolling, man they need to repaint the hull...

I love the ocean. It almost killed me a bunch of times, but it let me go.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:44 AM on April 6, 2005

"Spalding, the ocean is a lovely lady if you play in her,
but if you play with her, she's a bitch."
posted by squirrel at 8:06 AM on April 6, 2005

wow, that's pretty awesome.
at least he's got these gobs of photos for posterity.
the photographer must have had one hell of a memory card, snapping that many large pics.
my favorite is where everyone regroups around the sundered hull, then they get distance as it pitches down to mostly sink.

too bad this happened after that bankruptcy law passed.
that's gonna hurt the wallet.
posted by Busithoth at 9:11 AM on April 6, 2005

A boogie boarder made the first rescue.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:25 AM on April 6, 2005

So what will happen to the boat now? Will it just stay on the bottom of the bay, or does it have to get hoisted out? And if it gets removed, who pays for that?
posted by COBRA! at 9:33 AM on April 6, 2005

The pictures were probably taken by a surf photog. They hang out near surfers with big glass and great digital cameras. :)
(look at this forum for examples (fredmiranda.com))
posted by defcom1 at 10:15 AM on April 6, 2005

God, I love this sailing jargon stuff!
posted by Freen at 10:49 AM on April 6, 2005

18th letter in the metapirate alphabet: Arrrh!
posted by pointilist at 11:23 AM on April 6, 2005

A boogie boarder made the first rescue..

Alright, maybe spongers aren't so bad :).
posted by trillion at 1:26 PM on April 6, 2005

Hah, great gossip! I have a small (25-foot) sailboat in the marina right there, and I was out sailing last this past Sunday (didn't get rained on either, hah!).

The reason this guy capsized is not that the waves were "big." My 25-footer has gone out on ocean swells that were at least 20 feet from top to bottom, and it handles fine. The shape of the wave is what got him. If you look at when the wave starts to catch him from behind, the bow is underwater, and so is the stern (front and back). The wave is literally curling over the whole boat.

For the most part I agree with what's been said by F&M and eriko. Except: you could never, ever match the speed of a wave in these parts (and thereby stay in front of it) in a 22-foot Santana. It's not a matter of him losing wind in his jib, to stay ahead of the wave. The max hull speed on his boat just can't match up to the speed that the water is rushing up the face of a breaking wave. Were I in his position, I would've done a 180 and tried to take them head on, because attempting to "surf" in that boat is just bound to lead to capsizing.
posted by zekinskia at 3:14 PM on April 6, 2005

Oh, I wish I were sailing the bay today. My dad has an Alberg 30 in Tiburon. 70+ degrees, ~15 knot SW breeze. Perfect spring day. Probably lay a fisherman's reef in the main, but that's just because I'm lazy. ;-) Too bad I'm at work... 1000 miles away.

But this guy was a complete tool. Just glad he lived to learn from his mistake.

The area under the gate is pretty damn trecherous, even on a nice day. There are regularly 5-6 knot (nautical miles per hour) currents, and since most of the (non-racing) sailboats on the bay would be hard pressed to make better than say... 8 knots through the water, that doesn't leave much room for progress against the tide. As is, I always start the engine (even if I leave the prop in neutral) when I get near there. Don't want to loose headway (because if you're not moving forward, you can't steer. At all.) and get forced into the bridge piers. Or a tanker. Or the rocks. Or the breakers. Sailing between the south pier and the shore is just asking for trouble like that.

Surfing ocean swells in a sailboat is one thing. If the period is long enough between to avoid them breaking over you if you get turned (see above), and if you can match speed, and keep it, you'll make better time. (Our portly cruiser has sustained 12 knots through the water that way, going south toward Santa Cruz... the theoretical hull speed is 10).

Oh, and here are some other photos of the same event. In some of these, you can see just how close to shore he got. These photogs do seem to have some good gear, but they didn't need to strain any telephoto lenses to get these shots. They're standing just east of Fort Point.
posted by zeypher at 3:46 PM on April 6, 2005

COBRA!: So what will happen to the boat now? Will it just stay on the bottom of the bay, or does it have to get hoisted out? And if it gets removed, who pays for that?

No, the boat won't just stay on the bottom of the bay. If the owner doesn't arrange to have it removed in a timely manner, the Coast Guard will raise the wreck and send the owner a bill. A big bill. Normally, the owner (or their insurance company) will arrange for a professional salvage company to raise and dispose of the wreck. The fee for this is a percentage of the post-salvage value of the vessel (usually 10 - 50%; expensive, but cheaper than the Coast Guard).
posted by samw at 8:10 PM on April 6, 2005

I've done enough sailing on S.F. bay to know you don't take anything larger than a surfboard between the south tower and the point. They're lucky the tide was flooding or they would have been flushed out the gate. 'Course, it wouldn't have mattered much for the boats' sake, that little investment is a writeoff.

I have to say tho, seeing this boat slowlly sinking while surfers were dropping in made me laugh out loud - not sure why.
posted by bicyclingfool at 8:56 PM on April 6, 2005

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