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• May, 2010
LETTERS of the flood. Clearly, either the tide tables were wrong or the marina had given us bad information. But by this time we were totally committed, and the seas astern still looked calm. I was, however, seriously wishing I'd engaged the 'overdrive' mode on the prop, because I could have achieved a thru-the-water hull speed of about 8.6 knots. However, just as we reached the bar, an even bigger set came up and a breaking 6-ft wave caught our stern. It rolled Last Resort about 60° to starboard. The boat actually handled it quite well, and I was able to straighten her out almost instantly and recover. After that, we continued on without incident. As you might imagine, we spent a lot of time secondguessing our decision. We learned some valuable lessons we'd like to share: We had been too haphazard in our preparations, leaving one hatch only partially dogged, canisters of flour and other items perched precariously on a shelf, and an expensive Canon camera sitting unsecured on the cockpit table. Had we buttoned up the boat a little better in advance, the nearknockdown would have been a non-incident. But would I do it differently in the future? Actually, probably not. We were relying on a boat with prior local knowledge and, most importantly, on the marina to know the tides and bar conditions. If it was too dangerous to cross the bar, we assumed the bar pilot wouldn't try to take us in. So, like you, with very little experience taking a big boat through surf myself, I'll be most interested to hear what your readers have to say. I know this issue will come up again when we get to El Salvador. By the way, we're bringing our boat up to California for the summer and will be doing the Ha-Ha again in the fall. What's more, we're putting together a plan for transiting the Panama Canal and sailing across the Atlantic to the Med. Richard Drechsler Last Resort, Catalina 470 Long Beach Richard — Thanks for sharing all that additional information. As we said in 'Lectronic, we weren't second-guessing you, we just wondered if you'd had any other options. Since neither Sharon, you, nor the boat was hurt in any significant way, and since you recovered almost instantly, we'll chalk it up as a great educational experience with a bunch of good lessons for all. The only thing we'll add is that, as an old surfer dude, we'd recommend exercising greater than normal caution when dealing with a building swell, particularly one that would be hitting a bar flush. We're not sure how many readers may recall, but as a result of an illness that resulted in the severe narrowing of his throat, Richard Drechsler hasn't been able to eat solid food for years, and therefore has to exist entirely on Nestlé Carnation's Very High Calorie Instant Breakfast drinks. We salute his and Sharon's cruising to date, and their plans for the future. ⇑⇓SURFIN' ACROSS THE BAR Following the item in 'Lectronic about Richard and Sharon Drechsler's Catalina 470 broaching on a breaking wave at the bar going into the estuary at San Blas, you asked for reports of other crossings in breaking waves. Aboard Élan, our M&M 46 catamaran, my wife Deborah and I have had only one troublesome bar crossing, and that was on the way into the estuary to Bahia del Sol in El Salvador. We crossed the bar on the same high tide as two monohulls, both of which took waves much like the ones seen in the video in 'Lectronic from the day Last Resort and the other two monohulls went into San Blas. About three waves passed un-
The May 2010 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.