A sad situation for a passionate Mini racer, but a good example of how quick response and good communication can help get in front of an otherwise frightening issue and maybe get a sailor back to the starting line. From Anarchist/Minista ‘Koh Samia’ in the thread:
On Friday 18th, about 2 hours after departing Marina del Rey on my way to Begg Rock, 714’s keel decided that she wanted to become a tourist attraction on the bottom of the ocean. And there she went.
It was a nice day. We’re beating against 12 to 15 knots of wind and against the swell. Not too bad, though, we’re just about 7 miles out. I put the autopilot and went down below to check the chart when I was thrown to the leeward side. Minis are small enough, though, that I manage not to get hurt and, still standing on the boat’s side, I reached the main sheet through the companionway and let it go. That was enough to get her flat, and allowed me to sit back on the windward side… just to start hearing some weird noise… it took me few seconds to realize that the greenish-bluish long and narrow strip just aft of the keel box was the pacific ocean smiling at me.
After the initial shock, I remembered a comment while passing PSSA’s safety check: "those mandatory wooden plugs are useless, the cracks are never round, I’d just use a towel and stick it in there’. So that’s what I did. Thanks for the hint.
Of course it’s never that easy, and not too long later I realized there still was lots of water finding its way inside. So, I removed some stuff from the ‘storage’ area on top of the keel box, just to see the ocean smiling at me from all directions. I started bailing out until I realized that I could not win. The ocean and the laws of physics would. Minis are supposed to be unsinkable, and, if the builder had done it right, I’d have enough positive flotation to not going to the bottom of the ocean. The water was getting in too fast to be able to pump it out. I thought that the boat would get enough water in to stay floating in equilibrium and, after that, every gallon I pump out would be replaced by a new one. Call it Archimedes if you want. So I took my stuff and the emergency box (with flares and everything) out, plan how to take the life raft out… and stopped pumping.
It’s a long story, but I’d like to thank the US Coast Guard, the LA lifeguard, the sailors who came back to stay around me until help arrived and, of course, everybody who is helping me with all this.
Interesting enough I did never internalize that the whole keel had gone until she turtled. And that happened just a few seconds after I jumped into the Lifeguard’s boat with just wet feet. I like to think it was my own weight keeping her with the mast pointing to the sky… all those nice beers were finally useful!!
I guess I’ll be missing some racing this season..