The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Never Forget The Go-To-Sea Option

Have a quick read of this account of a race crew getting hit by a nasty thunderstorm when approaching their home port of Gloucester, Mass.


Anything jump out at you?

The first thing that hit me is that they never even considered waiting offshore for conditions to improve, or even daylight, before trying what turned out to be a very dangerous approach.

Sure, it would have been rough out there but the wind was in the North so they would have been in at least a partial lee from Cape Ann.

What about running off for Cape Cod where they could have rounded up under the Hook and anchored with no lee-shore danger?

Don’t get me wrong. I was not there and Mass Bay can be a bad place, particularly if the current is running against the wind, with limited sea room in a northerly. Maybe they made the right call.

But by entering Gloucester they were taking huge risks because of the breakwater under their lee. They got lucky on the aborted mooring approach but it could have gone very differently: hitting another boat, getting their mooring gear or someone else’s around the prop…the list is endless. A simple engine or steering failure could have have ended in a nasty wreck.

Have I made the same mistake? Yes. In fact, that’s why this jumped out at me.

I try to never forget:

  • It’s not the sea that kills sailors, it’s the hard bits around the edges.
  • The very human, and understandable urge to get home can lead us to bad choices.
  • Always consider ‘staying out there’ as one of our options.
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