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Great comments Paul,
Obviously lots of good takeaways for all of us to learn from.
One of the points we discuss during both our MYCBC spring and fall MacFoulies during the Dock-Talk is “sail preparedness”.
1) We always preset both main and head sail before leaving the dock, physically unfurl the headsail and raise the main to ensure all running rigging (sheets and halyards) are clear and not fouled.
2) some boats have headsail sock covers. These protect the sail from UV damage and dirt/mold while the boat is at rest, but should never be on the sail while underway for exactly this reason so it’s available for emergency deployment.
3) we also teach during the MacFoulie’s to put a reef in the main sa and take the mainsail cover off (if going out in inclement conditions or anticipating problems) so that the sail is ready to lift and is not over canvassed. (Too much sail out)
4) we also conduct crew over board drills under full sail with the assumption that our engine doesn’t work.
One great thing about a MacGregor is the shallow draft and the ability to pull up rudder(s) and keel so it can be beached, but I would not rely on this as an emergency option as beaches on the West Coast are rarely as soft and flat as Ambleside, a rocky lee shore might do damage to our thin fibreglass hills in short order.
I agree that Sailing out of trouble should’ve been the number one option, then deploying the anchor should’ve been number two – surprised your anchor didn’t catch even at 2 kn especially in mud and sand where you were.
I don’t think anyone truly expects to be in a serious or life-threatening situation, so when it is occurring it may not be recognized or seem as serious as it might become. For most of us, remaining calm and not panicking and processing emergency thinking is usually not a natural reaction, and is something that needs to be thought out ahead of time, so practising safety manoeuvres is the best way to control behaviour and increase positive results if a situation ever does arise – and is a reason our club focusses on some of these issues at the MacFoulies and the Regatta-Safety Sail and all year your long talking together like this.