The sailboat that thought it was a submarine
Last Updated on
In my late teens, I purchased a small sailboat from a neighbor. However, because of a bad design of the joint between the hull and he deck, it had a nasty tendency to take on water.
The sailboat was fiberglass using wood for some of the internal structure. That was a fairly typical design at the time. The problem was that over time, the fiberglass at the joint between the hull and deck cracked. The result was that as you were sailing, one side was generally ‘wet’. The water would be gradually absorbed into the wood and then fill the space between the hull and deck.
When you gained enough water, the sailing characteristics began to take on all the grace of a drunken overweight elephant. At some point, the bow would go through a wave and not come back up. I had to sail with the deck awash. With any luck, there would be an island within a half mile or so. I could then sail to the island and drag the boat up. Undoing the drain plug in the stern would let out about 20 gallons of water or so. At that point, it was best to head back home since the wood would be saturated and the rate of water intake would be drastically increased.
Even so, I would sail her across the bay from North Beach Haven to West Creek and, thankfully, back.
One time, a friend and I decided to sail to West Creek. We threw a six pack of Heineken and ice into the cockpit and started sailing. As time went on, the sailing characteristics decreased. It wasn’t the warmest day and we were both starting to shiver. We had a couple of peanut butter bars and ate those hoping that would give us enough energy to warm up a little. (of course, the cold beer we had didn’t help). It took a while to come about at West Creek for the sail home. The boat was handling like a blind stoned pig and with the low tide we were running aground. That necessitated raising the centerboard which made handling even worse. We finally got headed in the right direction and sailed home…. It took longer to get home because we had to make about 3 stops to drain the hull.
Given the sailing characteristics of that boat, I named her “Wahoo” after a WWII Submarine.