Disasters and Misadventures

We know that tales of disasters, mishaps and general screw ups are a part of being on the water. While we don’t celebrate them, we acknowledge a powerful interest in these stories and recognize their educational value. With that in mind,  we offer you some of our favorite tales of woe from years gone by.


Incident at the Cuckholds

Incident at the Cuckholds

In a surreal moment, before either of us hit the water, I heard Eric yell, “That was a bad mistake. I’m not taking this boat south.” Then I was in a washing machine, struggling to reach the surface.
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A very close call

A very close call

May 2021 By Dave Paling Growing up in a coastal town, I was exposed early to boats and experiences on the ocean. I grew to love time spent on the water thanks to my father, a navy veteran whose DNA drove him to pursue fishing
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An Easter story, 1959

A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality. – John F. Kennedy May, 2021 By David Roper So, what should he do? There
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Baptism by fire, Part II

Baptism by fire, Part II

Part 2: Some hairy autumn sea miles remained between Sea-Finn and her Midcoast Maine destination, including a forecast of 17- to 20-foot waves, 65-mph winds – and infamous Kennedy Rock.
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Baptism by fire

Baptism by fire

Part 1: With crew unavailable, the author, a relative cruising greenhorn, chose to singlehand to Downeast Maine from New York. He reached Kennebunkport, learned a lot, and nobody got hurt.
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Force 8 Cape Cod

Force 8 Cape Cod

June, 1994. 200 miles south of The Cape. Wind 40 knots, gusting higher. 20-foot waves. Water north of the Gulf Stream 50 degrees. Destination, Spain. This is the story of how we almost got there.
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Taking cover

It was a pleasant enough day when a friend and I took a new-to-me 14’ runabout down the Providence River from the neighborhood of Riverside in East Providence. At 16 years old we were venturing into the “vast open water” of Narragansett Bay south of
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Captain Bumblebee to the rescue

Captain Bumblebee to the rescue

By Ralph B. Pears My hapless cruising companion of many years, affectionately known as “Captain Bumblebee” because of his fondness for a yellow and black rugby shirt, was someone who was always prepared to lend a helping hand. You could always depend on him to
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Outdoor showers

Outdoor showers

By Christopher Birch Outdoor showers for the N.E. sailorSeveral years ago, on New Year’s Eve, I made a resolution: For the 12 months ahead, I would never shower without a beer. There’s something about the yin and yang of hot water and cold beer that
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Innocents abroad

Innocents abroad

By Frederick Findlen One beautiful October morning, my wife and I, both novice mariners, decided to take our last boating trip of the year. We checked the marine forecast, then launched our 17-foot motorboat in the New Meadows River in Brunswick, Maine. The plan was
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A shipyard burned, a treasure lost

A shipyard burned, a treasure lost

A fire destroyed George W. Zachorne Jr. & Sons Boatbuilders, in Wickford, R.I., but more was ruined than structure, boats, tools and precious artifacts. A way of life was snuffed out, too.
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A crisis narrowly averted . . .

A crisis narrowly averted . . .

In the December issue of Points East the editor put out a call for “trip-gone-wrong” stories, so here’s one, detailing the very first time my wife Jo and I ran aground on Trinity, our 29’ Island Packet. I say “first,” as it’s happened more than
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Mad dash to go-back

Mad dash to go-back

Experience is the best teacher, and lessons can be learned by straddling “exciting” and “really dumb.” In that spirit, I planned a 20-mile, Force 5 downwind flier from Portland to Harpswell
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Let’s talk about your fear

Let’s talk about your fear

Fear is part of the boating experience — It’s how you handle it that counts. We asked readers to recount their experiences with fear on the water. These are their stories. “If we get through this, let’s get married” Watery nightmares turn to dream realized
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‘OK, Irv, you’re right!’

‘OK, Irv, you’re right!’

Guest Perspective: Paul Brown Fundy Flotilla 2004, from Northeast Harbor to Grand Manan, and then on to Saint John and the St. John River. Brownscow, my Beneteau Evasion 32, had made it to Grand Manan, New Brunswick, and then had to leave the flotilla as
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Deliverance

Deliverance

The schooner was pinned against 40-foot cliffs, pounded by seas that threw spray over their tops. A former owner of a towing and salvage firm, I thought I could haul her off with my 46-foot sedan cruiser.
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The glittering darkness

The glittering darkness

The first time I nearly died in a boat was an occasion of sublime and terrifying beauty. I was in Woods Hole aboard the research schooner Westward, about to go to sea for the first time. I had joined the ship in Gloucester to supervise
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Boating and a big slice of humble pie

Boating and a big slice of humble pie

Many years ago, in the late ’90s, I had an old Star that I loved in a way that was inversely proportional to the aggravation it caused me. One of my top-five epic sails was aboard this boat, as was one of my top-five epic
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Zapped!

The luckiest day of my life took place in the summer of 1972. At the time, two college friends, Spot and Alec, and I were working summer jobs in Kenne-bunkport, Maine. Spot, his wife, and Alec were sharing a rented cottage that sat at the
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Capt. Bumblebee and the stadium blanket

Guest perspective/Ralph Pears Over the course of 30 years, during which time I frequently sailed in company with the ill-fated Capt. Bumblebee, so-named by my children because of his fondness for a yellow and black rugby shirt, he was always ready to come to the
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The misadventures of Capt. Bumblebee

Guest perspective/Ralph Pears Whenever sailors get together and have a few drinks, their talk invariably turns to the adventures they’ve had aboard boats. Sometimes these stories involve dangerous conditions and overcoming difficult situations. Other times they focus on the reminiscences of beautiful journeys, or the
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The libation of salvation

The libation of salvation

Guest perspective/Michael Long What good is a 1,000-mile delivery run without a bit of melodrama? Creature comforts and picturesque anchorages are in short supply when you leapfrog down the coast from Portland, Maine, to Jacksonville, Fla., in October. So some compensatory excitement is a welcome
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Aground on New Year’s Eve

Aground on New Year’s Eve

“We could have at least looked at the chart . . .” someone said. “Or we could have turned on the GPS,” I said, reaching across to the boat’s Garmin unit and pushing its little red button. “Well,” said Beth, reaching into her canvas bag
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Banned from Brewster

Banned from Brewster

Guest perspective/Larry Wardwell The following is an excerpt from the book “Confessions of a Closet Yogi” by Larry Wardwell. In this true account, which took place in 1959, 18-year-old Larry is on leave from the Air Force, hanging out in his hometown of Natick, Mass.,
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Dismasted!

Dismasted!

Guest Perspective / Hank Garfield Sailing is the ultimate slower traffic. When I’ve got the boat trimmed just right in a fresh afternoon sea breeze, with spray flying and my crew laughing in exhilaration, it’s doing maybe seven miles an hour. Nonetheless, I do occasionally
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A careening crisis narrowly averted

A careening crisis narrowly averted

In this column, I share stories from the Isles of Shoals and beyond. Some six miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Piscataqua River, this amazing place is host to a variety of interesting vessels, wildlife and people – a rest stop on the East
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Early sailing lessons

Early sailing lessons

Guest perspective/Paul Brown I bought my first sailboat in 1987, when I was 52 years old. It was a Thunderbird 26 sloop, a pretty little one-design built for cruising and racing. One could sit on the un-enclosed marine toilet and touch all four berths, the
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Life as a human spar

Life as a human spar

Can a sail across Maine’s Casco Bay qualify as a cruise? Yes, when the vessel is a nine-foot Nutshell Pram with a podiatric whisker pole and the skipper has prehensile toes.
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I, too, have been somewhere

I, too, have been somewhere

I blame it on the fried clams. Yes, like Captain Queeg and his strawberries, I’ll prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with geometric logic, that it was my fondness for fried clams that caused us to run aground that fine August day.
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The dumbest (boating) decision ever

The dumbest (boating) decision ever

Sometimes dumb choices work out okay. Sometimes they don’t. Mostly they don’t.
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A bridge too short

Michael Camarata’s article, “Dumbest Boating Decision Ever,” about a bridge too narrow, published in the Midwinter issue of Points East, hit very close to home for me. I have also made a dumb boating decision involving a bridge.
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A rocky start to my summer season

A rocky start to my summer season

September 2008 By Dodge Morgan I am accustomed to making mistakes on boats but mostly small and unthreatening ones. I have never lost a boat even though I have owned a few worth losing such as those made up of inflated rubber tubes. However, this
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Waste not, want not

Waste not, want not

April 2008 By David Roper Thousands, maybe millions, of seagulls, geese, cormorants, ducks and fish poop into the water all around me 24 hours a day when I go cruising. But my waste is human waste, which apparently is a special excrement and needs a
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The sea is not done with me yet

The sea is not done with me yet

The boat is lost. Will the replays ever end?
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Beware the last sail

Beware the last sail

A fall delivery to the boatyard seemed such a simple thing. It was only a few miles. What could possibly go wrong?
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A long day’s journey into fright

April, 2005 By Bob Knecht For Points East Tiger Rag, our Beals Island 22, is one hell of a seaboat for her size. She was born in Calvin Beal’s boat shop and designed for Maine waters, and that’s why I bought her. On this day
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A close call and a story to tell

A close call and a story to tell

The tourists cheered. The locals loved it. The tanker crew cursed. And we had a boating story to tell. Big deal.
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Shakedown cruise

Shakedown cruise

Even with everything going wrong, a Downeast shakedown leaves a father and his teen-age daughters with a deeper appreciation for the joys of cruising – and of engines.
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Scary stuff

Readers write: Scariest moments at sea
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Remind me to call those forecasters

February, 2000 By Carlene M. Grossi For Points East It had been a relatively uneventful August cruise for the two sailboats from Newport, R.I., a Catalina 30 and a Pearson 30. Oh sure, there had been fog, and the broken spreader, and the calls in
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A gift of calm in mid-ocean gives cruiser confidence to undertake new ventures

I was flabbergasted. It was hard to believe this was the ocean I had feared just a few months ago. Here we were 200 miles offshore plopped in a circle of velvet seas.
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“If we get through this, let’s get married”

We were 124 miles off Bermuda in 70-knot winds and 30-foot seas. A pressure gradient created by Hurricane Gordon lingered indecisively off Cape Hatteras, and a characteristically decisive Bermuda high hovered over Bermuda. For 48 hours, we struggled to keep our boat in one place
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Watery nightmares turn to dream realized

A near drowning incident in a swimming pool when I was a child left me fearful of the water. It wasn’t until I was about 34 years old that I was forced to confront the fear and deal with it.
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For the new boatowner, the butterflies are never far away

Whenever I see kids wearing the “N0 Fear” caps and T-shirts that became popular a year or two back, I remind myself to get one of those caps for myself, to wear whenever I’m aboard my Pearson 303, Treasure.
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