Squall line on Lake Erie Page 2

When I looked up, I saw that the local rescue squad had been standing by on the pier and had taken my dock lines; someone had called and told them about our problem. They had even launched the rescue boat they kept stationed on the ramp. Goodness, those guys acted quickly! Kudos to the Leamington Fire and Rescue Squad. When we were securely tied up, I furled the mainsail and put on the cover.

Then the penny dropped. In all the excitement, we hadn’t thought to put on our life jackets. What might have happened had one of us fallen overboard was not a pretty thought.

Thinking about it later that afternoon, Lyn and I decided that a bit of skill and perhaps some divine intervention had allowed us to get the boat safely into that slip. We continued sailing for the last four days of our vacation. And even though afternoon thunderstorms were a possibility every day, we had fun sailing. In the morning.


What we did right:

  • We listened to VHF weather continuously and turned around as soon as we heard the warning.
  • Despite the potential for high winds, we knew sailing back to the marina was faster than motoring.
  • When the squall line hit, we stayed calm and used the motor to try to keep ourselves in the middle of the channel and away from obstructions.
  • Avoiding other boats was a high priority, which is why we headed for the courtesy docks we knew would not be occupied.
  • What we did wrong:

  • We didn’t put on our life jackets when we were heading back to the marina. We should definitely have put them on when we saw the squall line astern.
  • We should have made sure the mainsail was secured with a bungee cord so it could not climb back up the mast. Just the two feet of sail that was exposed to the wind was enough to heel the boat for long periods of time and keep her prop out of the water.

  • Rich and Lyn Lewis learned to sail together, and Rich now holds a 50-ton license. They sail Fellowship on Cave Run Lake, in central Kentucky, and often trailer her to Lake Erie and Kentucky Lake.

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