Regular readers of my blog will know that one of the places I sail most frequently is Bristol Harbor, whether it be for the Tuesday night informal Laser racing or solo practice.
It feels like a pretty safe place generally. If I broke the mast or the boom on my Laser when sailing on my own there in the winter, I would probably wash up on some shore or other before my extremities froze or dropped off. And usually there's not so much traffic that I fear being run down by another boat.
Having said that I do keep clear of the Prudence Island Ferry. I suspect he wouldn't change course for the crazy old Laser geezer.
And there have been some heart-stopping moments on Tuesday nights when the Bristol YC A-cat fleet has been racing on a course that overlapped with ours. Those things are sooo fast and come up on you sooooo quietly.
I also keep an eye out for random motorboats and, if I'm not racing, usually change course to keep well out of their way. I'm never sure if anyone on board is actually looking where they are going.
Sounds as if the latter precaution is well worthwhile as there is news of a sailboat that was rammed amidships by a motorboat while racing last Wednesday evening in light winds in the harbor.
“It was 8:20 p.m., the wind had pretty much died out and the boats were drifting,” a witness on shore said.
“We were walking away when we heard a powerboat and a woman on board just whooping it up. Then there was an incredible crash — it sounded like an explosion.”
The 31 foot Beneteau ended up with a huge gaping hole amidships. Both people on the motorboat, a 21 foot Boston Whaler, were injured but the crew on the yacht were all in the cockpit abaft of the point of impact and so escaped without serious injury.
The forces of law and order have surmised that "speed was clearly a possible cause."
I should say so.
The picture below (stolen shamelessly from eastbayri.com) shows the hole in the side of the yacht with part of the deck of the powerboat hanging out.
Yikes. It's a dangerous world out there kiddies. It's not you, it's the other guy you need to worry about. Especially those evil powerboat drivers. Keep a good lookout. Play safe.