Rik's Sailing Stories

Stories - Code Flags

This page contains some of our sailing stories, as well as some contributions from other Chrysler owners. If you would like to send in some of your own sailing stories for posting on this page, simply e-mail them to me by clicking on the "e-mail" button in the left frame.

About Us

We live in Maryland, just off the Chesapeake Bay. We primarily use our Chrysler 26 named "Child's Play" for day sailing. My wife isn't into the whole sailing "thing" yet -- if we heel more than five degrees she gets a little nervous. So, for now, the real exciting, heart-pounding sailing is saved for when we have more adventurous souls aboard.

We started sailing at St. Mary's College of Maryland (its a well known sailing school located in St. Mary's City). Since then, we've been hooked. When looking to purchase a boat, we used the internet (MarineNet) to do a search. Initially, we were going to buy a Catalina 25 at a brokerage in Annapolis, but the broker convinced us to look at a few other boats, including the Chrysler. As it turned out, the boat has been perfect for our family.

About Our Boat

We've had the boat now for about 7 years. "Child's Play" is a 1978 Herreshoff design, with a full keel. She came equipped with a Chrysler 10 HP outboard with electric start and cockpit controls, 2 mains, a 150% roller-furling jib, 100% hank-on jib, a dutch 30% storm sail, and a "cruising spinnaker". The boat was a steal, as the previous owner had not been sailing it, and was paying considerable dry-dock fees. I've put a lot of sweat and blood into it, and most people can't believe that its a 1978.

For more information about our boat, please visit the "Specifications" section by clicking on the "Specs" button in the left frame. To view pictures of our boat, please visit the "Photos" section by clicking on the "photos" button in the left frame.

Story # 1: "The Sea Trial"

We finally decided to take the plunge and purchase our first sailboat, a Chrysler 26. It had been sitting out of the water for about two years, so we had quite a bit of work to do to make it seaworthy. After many hours of scraping, sanding, painting, varnishing and fixing all the little things, we finally were ready to put the boat to sea.

Although we had put a contract on a boat, we still had to take it out for a "sea trial" before we took ownership. The first time we took the boat out, we went straight into the Chesapeake Bay. Normally a pretty comfortable body of water, that day the wind was blowing steady at 15 knots, gusting 20-25, and the Chesapeake was frothing with whitecaps. We probably should have done the sea trial on another day, but we had worked our schedules to be off that day, and the marina was about two hours from our house; too far to turn back.

My wife had only sailed once or twice with me in fairly calm conditions, and to say that she wasn't terribly comfortable with the situation would have been an understatement. We got the roller furling jib and the main up and were really moving. The sailboat broker and I were having a great time heeling at about 15 degrees, kicking up a wake, and my wife was holding on for dear life.

Suddenly, there was a shot like shotgun blast, and the boat lurched instantly from starboard tack to port. The boom flew across the cabintop, luckily missing everyone. The wire halyard for the roller furling jib had split asunder, and the sail broached. At this point, we had lost our steerageway, and were being blown sideways with our jib in the water.

My wife was holding on to the cockpit coaming so hard that her knuckles were white against her skin, while our broker (who was about 60 years old) was scrambling around on the foredeck trying desperately to pull the broached sail in. I was just trying to get some steerageway, so we wouldn't be pounded broadside by oncoming waves, while keeping an eye on the boom to make sure that it didn't take one of us over the side when it swung around again.

Finally, we got the jib in. Thank God that the Chrysler's engine controls were in the cockpit and we were able to get the engine started on the first try. Once we started moving, we were able to get steerageway, pull the mainsail down, and head back to the marina.

Guess what? We decided to keep the boat after all. It had responded well, under a tremendously stressful situation. We had all our halyards replaced though, and our broker told us that our experience typified sailing, which he described as "hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror".

Story # 2: "Crabpots"

If you sail in the Chesapeake Bay during the summer, you know that a major source of local watermen's income comes from harvesting Maryland Blue Crabs. While the watermen are trying to earn a living, their choice of "crabpot" placement is not always ideal for sailors occupying the same waterways.

Four years ago, we were out sailing with our children, ages 3 and 5 (at the time), and a friend who had never sailed before. We had just exited our marina channel and had put up our main and roller furling jib. As luck would have it, our friend let the jib out a little too quickly, and it fouled completely around the forestay. Our friend tried to get the jib untangled, but the wind had picked up to about 15 knots and the mess was rapidly getting worse by the second. My wife had her hands full with our children, who had picked that moment to start screaming. I told my friend to take the helm and I went forward to "fix" the jib.

Well, our friend had no experience with the tiller, and did an excellent job of running over two crabpot lines. The crabpot lines had gotten fouled around both the keel and rudder. (For those of you unfamiliar with this term; crabpots are essentially cages attached with ropes to styrofoam or rubber air-filled buoys -- which are painted in colors to distinguish them from other watermen's buoys).

At this point, we came to a dead stop. The boat started heeling over severely from the wind and began blowing sideways. The kids were screaming, the wife was upset, and our friend was beginning to get scared. I had given up on the roller furling jib, as it was fouled beyond all belief, but there was still too much sail hanging out. I decided that we needed to get underway, quick-like, and went back to the helm. We couldn't start the engine, for fear of fouling the prop with the crabpot lines.

I had no better luck than my friend, and was quickly blown over another crabpot line. Just when I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse, all three crabpots miraculously slipped off the keel and rudder, and we were underway again. However, the jib was still stuck, and our friend was trying desperately to get it down. At one point, the wind gusted so hard that the sail picked him up off the deck and was about to dump him into the water when he let go and jumped back into the boat. Fortunately, we had installed netting inside our lifelines and he stayed onboard, rather than rolling off.

We were finally able to get the jib untangled by letting the halyard go and tugging as hard as we could on the sail. Believe it or not, we got the sail wrapped up - no rips. As soon as we got things squared away, my wife told me in no uncertain terms that it was time to head back. I was still ready to sail! But, as we all know, you must learn which battles are worth fighting, and that just didn't seem to be the time....

Story # 3: "The Rocks"

Story contributed by Paul Nanna. Paul sails his Lone Star 13, "Tipsy" in Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay, California.

"I took mine in Monterey Bay, out of Santa Cruz one day.

I had a sense of high adventure. Every Wednesday, in the summer, they have the "Beer Can Race" out the mouth of the yacht harbor, down around a couple of buoys and back. Well I wanted join the 30 footers and show them what my little boat could do....

Things I learned....

  1. Where the kelp was.
  2. Wind dies about 6 p.m.
  3. The ocean will put you on the shore.

Anyway, get caught in the kelp bed. Pull up the dagger boards and rudder. Now can't steer.

Wind dies. Ocean surge slowly moving me into the surf.

Look up, !ROCKS!

Paddle... HARD. Get past the rocks. Find the surfers, that's where I do not want to go!

Pull in my sails. Roll and stash them. Secure everything else and hope for the best.

Standing in my boat, WAVE... roll, toss.

Luckily, the water was only waist deep, and I pull the boat to shore.

A couple of folks help me drag the little bathtub as far as possible up the beach.

I go to get my car and trailer. When I returned, the sea had reclaimed it's booty.

"Oh well..Davy Jones's Locker", I thought.

The next day I go down to the beach to maybe gather a piece of my little boat as a memento.

The surfers are pulling it out of the waves (in one piece!) cursing about how it's getting in the way of all their good waves. I had them pull it WAY up on the sand this time.

The mainsail was trashed, there was a small crack in the transom, and the rub guard had been pulled off half the hull.

Aside from that... solid, after tumbling all night in the surf!

I found a used sail, in perfect condition at a shop for $50.00.

It was 1/3 larger than the original so I had to have a new boom made to fit it. The boom/mast top measurement was the same.

With the extra sail, the puny little rudder just didn't cut it, so I got a Hobie 18' rudder and hardware. This little sports car cuts.

I sail now at Lexington resevoir. It's about 1.5 miles long and always has an afternoon wind blowing one direction or the other. It's wide enough for a decent tack and keeps me on my toes."

Story # 4: "Boom, Out Go The Lights"

Story contributed by Chuck Vecoli. Chuck sails his Chrysler 22, "Gatta Nostra" in the Narragansett Bay area, Massachusetts.

"Years ago, I owned a Herreshoff Gaff rigged Cat boat. The 18'6" America ....that is where my boat name "Gatta Nostra" came from.

Well to make a long story short...we got caught in a summer squal and while we were picking up the mooring, a blow lifted the boom and dropped all 19 feet of it square on my wife's head!!!! She was lying on the cabin sole. I jumped in and lifted her head up, and where I had my hand, I could feel the bump rising in real-time!!

On the one hand that was a good thing...swelling out is always better than in! But on the other hand I knew she had been hit hard.

I got her into the v-berth. Got a zip-lock bag of Ice and had her just lay still while I cleaned up and stowed the critical stuff. The rest we left a mess. I then got her into the row boat and rowed ashore.

We were going to just go home when she started to complain of blurred vision etc. That's when we decided to go to the ER. The rest as they say is history! She has been out with me since but no long trips, and certainly only when the weather is clear...two days ahead with a forecast of clear weather for the next two!!! (LOL) And she prefers vessels of 38 feet and longer with booms that end short of the cock pit!!"

Story # 5: "Up A Creek Without A Paddle"

Story contributed by Mike Ellis. Mike sails his 1975 Chrysler Mutineer "Menai" in Boque Sound near Morehead City and Beaufort, North Carolina.

"A day or so after I washed and waxed my Mutineer, I decided to take her for a sail along Taylor's Creek near Beaufort, NC. The wind did seem a bit strong. However, I had been in worse and decided to try it anyway. As I set out from the dock on a run, I noticed many whitecaps ahead of me outside the protected confines of Taylor's Creek. So I quickly came about, and on my way back to the dock, I noticed I was carrying too much wind and was heeling excessively (of course, I did not reef the sail initially).

I felt "this was enough", after water came over the sides. So I turned her into the wind to drop the main and planned to head in on the jib or under power (3.5hp Nissan). But the wind and current were too much before all that was done, and I was being blown into the shore(lined with barnacles).

I was stuck there, and when I did fire up the engine, the prop got caught on an obstruction and was useless! So my beautiful boat with new wax was being shoved up against the shore. I said "to hell with this" and jumped out and towed her myself around to a dock and tied her off. The wind really picked up...even the fishermen in power boats were having trouble making their way up the creek!

I walked about 2 miles back to the dock and a very nice fellow offered to give me a tow back, but we barely made it back. Anyway, I am still repairing the nicks and dents after this escapade, but there was no major damage...."

Story # 6: "Pensacola Perfection"

Story contributed by Pat Johnson. Pat sails his 1980 Chrysler 22 "Frisky" in Pensacola, Florida.

"I went out Saturday afternoon on my "Frisky" (C-22). The wind was perfect for a full main and a 110% genoa. We sailed from the slip near downtown Pensacola across the bay past the end of the Gulf Breeze peninsula to the Pensacola Beach (Bay Side) where we had dinner on the boat.

By then, it was nearly dusk and the sun was setting in an orange sky as the wind held perfect for a 15 degree heel, and a 6 mph sail back around the Gulf Breeze peninsula.

Then, we turned east and sailed under the rising moon, which was nearly full. We sailed until nearly 10:30 with the moon providing all the light we required to sail. I clocked my best speed on my GPS as 7.4 MILES an hour. I have clocked it several times in the past at just below 8 miles an hour. I'm not sure if it was just the sails or if I had some tidal help.

You have to be careful when sailing at night but I sure do like it when there's a full moon in familiar waters with a search light ready and a GPS at your side."

Story # 7: "Stranded Goose"

Story contributed by Mark Kuhnke. Mark sails his Chrysler Mutineer "Flying Goose" in Madison, Wisconsin.

"Our Mutineer is named the "Flying Goose", which was not what we were doing this day sailing on Lake Monona, one of 4 lakes in the chain around Madison, Wisconsin. My normal crew member owns a 16' Hobie Cat and was at the helm of his boat when this happened.

I took a person who had never sailed before out to the lake for a really fun ride. The wind was out of the west with small whitecaps. My friend with the Hobie invited me to sail after him. Boy, did he fly that day. My inexperienced crew let go of the dock too soon, and we began drifting at a fast rate toward a swim beach with kids playing in the waves. I began furiously paddling to try to keep out of the roped-off swimming beach. But Mother Nature was no help that day. Thinking I could sail with the jib and get out of trouble with flying colors, I told my crew to pull on the jib sheet and open her up. He pulls the jib open on the wrong side and we begin backing up faster than ever. I am now crossing the ropes with my centerboard partway down (luckily, I didn't snag it). The kids now notice this large mass moving quickly toward them and begin screaming as only kids can do.

At this point, I dove over the side to hold the boat away from the kids and the shore. After a quick lesson on the use of my crew's other right hand, and the use of cleats, I was able to turn the boat into the wind and begin towing (sort of) my boat out of the swim area. The kids are now rolling with laughter at my predicament, since this is the first boat in their swim area.

After 20 minutes of walking my boat back to the launch point. I moved with speed I didn't know that I had as I vaulted out of the water and pulled the correct jib sheet with my right hand. My left hand was busy lowering the centerboard, and I began moving back toward the beach. I grabbed the tiller and lowered the blade. Finally, some control! Within 20 seconds we shot past the bouys outlining the swim area. With a little more effort, the main was set and the "Flying Goose" was finally living up to its name. Yes, I caught up with my friend on the catermeran. He flew a hull a little too high and was recovering himself and his crew.

Until next time... Happy Sails!"

Story # 8: "The Albatross"

Story contributed by Mike Stork. Mike sails his Chrysler 26, "The Albatross" near Puget Sound, Washington.

The moorage of 'the Albatross,' my C-26, is five miles up the Snohomish River, which is subject to tides of -3.3 up to 12.5. If the tide is going out, the currents can exceed 6 knots. If the tide is coming in, currents will run reverse, up-river to more than 3 knots. The highlight of any journey up or down the river, aside from the mud flats, underwater rocks, logs and strong currents is the pair of bridges we like to call "double trouble."

This pair of bridges consists of a low drawbridge closely followed (about 100 feet) by a swing train bridge which, when closed, completely blocks passage up or down the river. The train bridge is left open unless a train is scheduled to cross, at which time the operator will swing the bridge closed; a process which I am informed cannot be stopped once started. Passage through the train bridge is narrow and the currents are generally very strong and unpredictable. On either side of the pair of bridges, signs clearly say "Underwater Power Cables DO NOT DROP ANCHOR."

For a sailboat to clear the two bridges and safely navigate the river requires some measure of skill and planning. It also requires either courage or foolishness; we haven't decided which it is yet.

After an uneventful day of sailing in Puget Sound, just southeast of the San Juan Islands, my friend and I decided to take 'Albatross' back up the river for the day. My VHF radio was not working at the time, so we used a cellular phone to call the bridge tender and schedule an opening. The tide was on its way in so we made great time up the river.

The first of two scheduled trains crossed the bridge just as it came into sight. We knew from our phone conversation with the tender, a second train was on its way in 30 minutes. The train swing bridge opened to let us through. We reached the bridges with 10 minutes to spare, but the drawbridge remained closed. We sounded the horn and tried to slow down to wait for the deck to open, but the currents of the incoming tide made slowing quite difficult. Within a few yards of the bridge deck, I threw the motor into reverse and attempted to stop the boat in hopes the bridge would open soon. We had heard in the distance the sound of a train whistle and knew that the swing bridge would be closing soon and we are in it's way. The currents kept pushing us closer to the bridge deck. I finally surrendered to the fact that we where probably going to crash the mast into the bridge and damage or even flounder the boat. Just a few feet from the bridge deck both my friend and I where silent, watching the mast inch closer to the steel structure. And then, it happened. The mast cleared the bridge by what looked like inches. A radio antenna attached to the top of the mast made a scratching sound as it was drawn across the bottom of the bridge.

After the excitement, we called the tender and discovered he had "stepped out for some lunch and didn't get back in time for the scheduled bridge opening." Needless to say, we always give a polite "one fingered salute" to the tender each time we pass under the closed drawbridge at low tide now."

Story # 9: "Attitudes"

Story contributed by Michael Grosh. Michael sails his 1969 "Man-O-War" in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

"A beautiful mid-spring day, clear skies, air temp. about 75, water temp. about 63, wind SW.15-18 kts. My 14 yr. old daughter wants to sail a boat by herself - so this is lesson day on the Man-O-War; the same boat I developed my sailing skills on many years ago.

We work our way out to the main part of the creek (really a river anywhere else but the Chesapeake Bay) and it's...breezy, but the hiking straps I have installed, and with both of us out, are having a blast. We stop for lunch under the lee of some tall pine trees and I notice a Force 5 boat working towards us - a race! We are all over this guy. The two of us can hold the boat down better than the single-hander. We are planing to windward, spray everywhere, seas breaking over the bow. Then seas really breaking over the bow. We swamp. I've been here before, and basically have been able to sail the boat to shore, with just me and the mast sticking out of the water. Not this time. As my daughter pointed out, all those years of mice building nests with the flotation in my stored upside down boat have taken their toll.

The boat doesn't want to float. But if we get out of it and just leave it alone it'll sort of lay there - no dives to the bottom; but the weight of the mast makes it unstable, so I pull it out - it's internal styrofoam is intact, and I lash it to the hull. Things are looking up. The Force 5 offers to help/get help, but there is nothing he can do in the short term. We start swimming for shore, with the boat in tow. Maybe 45 minutes later we are able to stand - drag the boat the rest of the way and commence dewatering - this is not easy to do with breaking seas and a waterlogged boat; but we get her in after 3 hours of work.

The odd thing is, at some point in our swim for shore, we start having fun again. When we wash up on that deserted beach, all I could think of was when was Friday going to show up. Anyway, we relaunch the boat, set our (terminally) damaged sail and head downwind for home.

I don't know if this story has a moral, but I do know that, with the right attitude, a bad situation can be made...better.

Anybody know where I can get a Man-O-War sail cheap?"

Story # 10: "Fins to the Left"

Story contributed by Chuck Amasio. Chuck sails his 1975 "Buccaneer" in the Barnegat Bay, New Jersey.

"When my wife and I were just first dating, I pointed out a sailboat offshore one day as we sat on the beach and remarked that I had always wanted to own a sailboat. When she replied, "Let's get one", I thought I was hearing things. I had no idea the suggestion would interest her. Well, we began searching the classifieds, not really having any inkling what type or size of boat to buy, where to keep it, or how much we wanted to spend.

I called a friend, Ed who had several boats over the years as I figured he could steer me in the right direction. As it happens, his neighbor was selling his '75 Chrysler Buccaneer, since his wife didn't enjoy it all that much. We purchased it, had it launched and decided to locate it temporarily behind my friend's waterfront home until we could locate a marina in which to berth it.

That weekend, the three of us were to take it out into Barnegat Bay for a shakedown cruise. As we rounded the lagoon and neared the open waters of the bay, we were greeted with the sight of wind streaked water and whitecaps. My first inclination was that it was way too much wind for the boat, but my friend, Ed, assured me that the boat could handle it.

As we screamed across the waters with the leeward rails buried in the foam, I was practically standing on the opposite cockpit seat, pulling on the tiller with two hands. All at once, the tremendous effort on the tiller ceased. I shouted to Ed that something happened and demonstrated this by swinging the tiller back and forth freely. He grabbed the tiller to see for himself. Just then we looked over the stern only to see the rudder floating away on the chop.

My heart sank as I bemoaned the fact that my new/old boat was now out of commision after waiting all these years for ownership and also that I knew that I could not just go to the local 'Rudders-R-Us' store and pick up a rudder for a 22 year old boat. Being that Ed was an old salt, I figured he would have all the answers. I asked, "What do I do now?". His reply floored me when he answered, "I don't know".

Well, after we motored back to his house he mentioned making a new rudder. One sheet of marine plywood, some glue, belt sander, fiberglass and 20 hours of sanding, glassing, painting, cursing and sweat later, (while Ed reclined in a chair in the shade and drank beer) I had a rudder that would probably outlast the boat.

My wife and I have been enjoying our boat, FINS TO THE LEFT, after the Jimmy Buffet song, ever since."

Story # 11: "Pushing the Envelope"

Story contributed by Gunar Luhta. Gunar sails his "Mutineer" on Lake Michigan.

"I bought a Mutineer a few years ago, since I found its size and purpose suitable for a certain Bay on Lake Michigan. During the first summer, my friends and I had many boat parties on a local island with some other groups on catamarans. We sailed during every moment of free time and must have logged a huge amount of miles. The second year was a much more eventful repeat of the first.

It began when I took my soon to be ex-girlfriend on a short trip across the Bay to the island in May. Early May. She wasn't too excited when it started raining either. At any rate, I arced out the starboard stay on the battery terminals while taking the mast down. It lit up like the inside of a toaster.

Later in the summer, my friends and I took another excursion to the sand bar at the island where about 30 boats were anchored and having a swell time. It was a weekly thing, since we don't have real jobs except for completing another semester. Anyway, it was a very long day filled with many tall sea stories (usually new drinking games), and some knee-boarding behind one of the power boats in the sun. Everyone was smiling. Toward the end of the day, we decided against camping and pulled anchor. The breeze was pretty fresh for the leeward side of the island, yet we still set the main and then the jib. The wind had veered around since the morning, and we were able to set the chute for the 13 miles back to shore. A prudent mariner would have taken notice of the change in weather since we had no radio. And, that is exactly what we did. What we should not have done was leave the safety of the beach. But to be quite honest, we prefer the heavy weather because we can race. The Mutineer can actually hold her own to a catamaran if you sail her right and the people on the catamaran don't.

So on the way back, holding an ice-cold single, I spied a front moving in from the West in the form of a rolling, black, vertical, tumbling cylinder at about ten-thousand feet. I began to reef the main and holler to the oblivious in the other boat. I decided to leave the spinnaker up for the blow to see what she could do. My First Mate approved and the rail weight was quickly informed of her duty. The wind hit the catamaran first and she took off like a startled shark. With four people aboard, they were able to maintain somewhat of a course for about ten seconds, before the guys were catapulted into the cat's paws.

I knew right then, we were gonna go down within the next minute. There was no time to dump the chute, since I couldn't leave the tiller. I did, however, manage to turn directly downwind when we got hit. The rigging started to pop and groan. The sails and the sheets were taut like wires, and the Mutineer surged forward with a powerful burst of weight and momentum. I screamed to my crew to move to the aft of the vessel, which they did. Even with the weight aft, the Mutineer began to submarine and plow for the depths. For this brief moment, I experienced sailing bliss. Never had I seen a boat this small handle such a wind. We planed easily, surfing down the small waves and then over the back of the next one nearly coming airborne. It was completely radical and fresh.

My mistake came when I failed to recognize that since the weather front came from the West, the wind might come from there too at any second, instead of from the North (which we were currently running with). Just then, another wall of air slammed our starboard side. The stay that had taken the electrical assault just a month previous began to twang. Loudly. I tried to jibe the main without eliminating my crew, who were catatonic on the rails. The stay parted and all was still, just before the entire standing rig came down upon us, pinning my friend down on the centerboard trunk. What was left of the setting sun was coaled over by the dark menace of a cloud aloft. In order to release the pinned man, I simply had to lift the mast off him. No short task, it turned out, since the spinnaker sheets were fouled underneath. He eventually became free.

I could still see the guys in the catamaran gathering up all the beer cans that had dumped into the lake. I was touched by their effort to clean the environment before attempting to right their vessel. Then, I thought otherwise and laughed. About an hour later, we had the sails stowed and the mast secured longitudinally on deck. Luckily, we had the Minn Kota trolling motor handy, which we put to immediate use. Our plan was to rescue our friends on the cat and get a cold beer, which in our minds, we rightly deserved. About another hour later, we were trolling our way through the waves with the cat in tow. Then the battery, which had burned the stay, began to lose its initiative and all hope was lost. Thus, we eventually drifted toward the opposite shore we had hoped for.

The catamaran suffered a blow to the jib and they lost her along the luff. Their newly purchased wind vane had taken to the lake bed. More importantly, they lost two Zippo lighters, three packs of smokes, about $2.00 worth of the bottle deposit, one cellular telephone, and their dignity. My vessel sustained two minor rips in both the main and jib, a cracked foredeck, ruptured athwartship stringers that support the mast step, the mast step, a batten, a roller furling system, and the trust of a friend. All in all, it was an exciting day.

The Coast Guard had broadcasted a Pan Pan vessel distress notice over channel 16 in our honor. That must have been my fifteen minutes of fame.

Thanks to Uncle Sam taking 30% of my income over the last year, I was assisted in financing the Mutineer's refit during the winter months. I replaced the sails, cleats, sheets, and the paint. I currently await the new season with a renewed boat.

This is only one story over a two year period, but there is a nautical moral to be learned here. The Chrysler Mutineer is an extremely seaworthy craft, when properly maintained. I purchased her without having a clue as to her history or abilities. So, we sailed her like she was going down at any second. The Mutineer took an unbelievable amount of abuse over the last two years and never missed a tack. Except one. Now that she is strong once again, I plan to test her limits this summer with an extended journey off shore. I'll write more when more happens.

If it ain't blowin', we ain't goin'." -- Gunar

Story # 12: "The First Lesson"

Story contributed by Wesley Pitts. Wesley sails his "Mutineer" in Georgia.

I just recently bought my first boat, a Chrysler Buccaneer. I bought it for what appears to have been a good price from a junked-car dealer, "as-is" (I found out later that this meant no spinnaker or rear hatch).

Anyway, I've taken it out once, for 35 minutes:

Ten minutes of sailing
30 seconds of flipping
5 minutes of righting (4 minutes of cursing, 1 minute of actual boat-righting)
2 minutes of taking on water, and, finally
25 minutes of swimming (boats aren't so easy to push when they're full of water).

What did I learn from all of this? That I need three things:

  1. Practice
  2. A Bailer
  3. A Rear Hatch
  4. Now, I've got a bailer (old detergent bottle). I'm getting in some practice. I still need a rear hatch...

    Story # 13: "True Love"

    Story contributed by Paul Gazelka. Paul sails his "Man-O-War" in ?.

    I have a 1964 Chrysler Man-O-War. When I was a boy, my family owned the boat. My first date with my wife to be was on this sailboat....that was 19 years ago. We just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. I gave my wife a present she will cherish for the rest of her life. About 5 months ago I thought about our first date, and wondered what ever happened to the sailboat. It turns out my parents had given it to an older brother, and it had been sitting upside down outside for many years. Needless to say, the hull was badly damaged. I talked to a boat repair expert who ended up refinishing the bottom, and buffing out the top. She looked beautiful. I added a name to her this time "true love". That's what I presented to my wife for our anniversary. We went sailing today, we even ended up tipping....it was fun to get "true love" back in the water. This is a day I won't forget.

    Story # 14: "First Time"

    Story contributed by Jim Faller. Jim sails his 1976 "Mutineer" in Tennessee.

    My boat is a 1976 model with sail number 2687. This was a "hand me down" boat given to me by my brother who had someone give it to him. It appears that it had been quite some time since it had been in the water, but the sails are in great shape and I was willing to give it a try. My first task was to find out what kind of boat I had. My only clue was the Chrysler name plate. Thanks to the Internet, and those of you responsible for this site and other Mutineer and Chrysler sites, I was able to find out not only what I had, but also an owner's manual and much needed advice on repair work. It seems that there is a problem that is common to many Mutineers, rotten mast steps. After asking the same questions being posted now I was given much good advice. I would recommend looking through old digest numbers in this group. There is a lot of valuable information on fixing this problem. You just need the time to spend looking. I used the method of building a frame that resembles an "H" and refitted it where I had cleaned out the rotten mast step and ribs. Well, so much for history, now for my story.

    This is the story of my very first sailboat outing ever. I had several days off from work in the middle of the week which I thought would be a good time to give it a try since Watts Bar Lake here in Kingston, TN can be very busy on weekends and rather quiet during the week. I spent the whole day before my trip practicing in the yard. I'm sure the neighbors thought I was crazy. I set the sails with the boat on the trailer and made sure I was familiar with how everything worked. After "playing" all day I was ready to put her in the water. I am lucky enough to have a neighborhood launch just 2 blocks from my house so the next day off we went. I couldn't con my 18-year-old son or my 19-year-old daughter to go with me and my wife was at work so I decided to take her out solo. At 10:00 in the morning I put her in the water, set my sails and was ready to go. It was then that I discovered my first great lesson about sailing. YOU NEED WIND TO SAIL!!!!! I didn't make it more than 50 feet from the dock!

    It was dead calm and the water was like glass. However, trying to look at the bright side, it was a good first experience. I got to see how the boat feels in the water and I got to "play" some more only this time I wasn't in my driveway on the trailer. So, after about an hour and a half I decided to leave the boat at the dock and go home. I thought that I would wait until the afternoon when there should be some wind convection caused by the heat. After eating lunch I headed out again at about 2:00. This time there was just the slightest of a breeze. So off I went. It was a good experience and I managed to steer and move rather well, experimenting to see just how everything works. It must be noted that my top speed must have been about 2 mph. Thrilling! At about 200 yards off the dock, after being out for about an hour, the wind died again! Thank goodness for my trusty paddle. As I was making my way back to the dock I noticed a storm brewing off in the distance. I thought to myself, "Good, There is always a breeze before a storm." I once again left my boat at the dock and headed home waiting for the approaching wind.

    I was resting on the couch at 5:00 when there was the loud rumble of thunder. I quickly got myself back to the boat dock to see how things looked. The wind was blowing at a good rate and I could see the storm off in the distance. I was trying to decide if the storm was going to go around us or come straight through. I was also debating weather or not to try and sail in this wind. While surveying the lake I noticed another sailboat out and headed in my direction. I figured if he could do it then I could do it! So off I went.

    This time I was having a good time as the boat moved at quite a good clip. All was going well until suddenly, I was hit with a big gust of wind. The boat really took off and the wind had it at such an angle that I thought it was going over. I was literally standing on the housing that holds the centerboard, leaning out as far as I could and water was lapping over the side and into the boat. Now I'm thinking, "What do I do now?" I remembered reading that if you head into the wind the boat would not sail so I tried turning the rudder to see if I could gain some control. Well, just as soon as I turned the rudder the wind caught me from another direction and the boat heeled to the opposite side. Now I have the same problem, but I am on the other side of the boat.

    It was then that I realized that my centerboard was up! While trying to lean back as far as I could I leaned forward and lowered the centerboard. Thank goodness the boat righted. As soon as I realized that the boat was stable, I reached forward and pulled the jib in. After regaining control I headed for the dock. I didn't get the right angle on dock while trying to land. The bow came in on the edge of the dock but the wind was blowing the stern off the end. I was able to grab the dock with my hands. If I were to let go I would be blown backwards into the rocks. I was able to pull the boat around to the side of the dock where the wind could not blow her off. I sat there a few minutes and then pulled in my main sail, still fighting the wind.

    As I am sitting there at the dock I notice that other sailboat that I had seen earlier. It was a yacht! It must have been 35 or 40 feet long and was having no trouble with the weather as it motored down the lake! Now it was time to get her out of the water before the worst of the storm hit. I got the truck and backed the trailer into the water. That is when it decided to start raining. Not just a little rain but a downpour. So I waited it out before putting her back on the trailer and towing her home. Now I have learned my second lesson, which is, DON'T SAIL IN A STORM!!!!!

    That was last week. I have had her out one other time since then and everything went well and I really enjoyed sailing her. Can't wait to put her back in the water.

    Story # 15: "Wounded Pride"

    Story contributed by Wray Fonner. Wray sails his 1977 "Mutineer" in New Hampshire.

    I just got a 1977 Chrysler Mutineer C-15 for free out of our local free ads. It is in relatively good shape with the both sails in tact. The only damage that I can find is a patch on the foredeck where the boat hit the dock one to many times.

    I took my Mutineer out twice over the Labor Day Weekend. On the first trip I forgot to close the bailers so our feet got a little wet, but the sailing was incredible. on the second trip however we ran into a little trouble. On a leeward tact with the sails at full trim, the keel struck something under the water knocking it up and jamming it in the saddle.

    Being unable to get the the keel back down I started sliding sideways toward a rock formation along the shoreline. I bailed out of the boat leaving my oldest son to man the tiller while I attempted to keep the boat from slamming into the rocks. I unfortunately forgot to release the mainsail, so at full trim she caught air rolled the boat and sent the family into the drink. Well, after helping all the kidlets to shore I proceeded to right the boat.

    Unbeknownst to us, a good intentioned passerby called 911. Within 5 minutes we had marine patrol, rescue and local police on the scene to make sure that we were alright. It wasn't bad enough that my pride was shot in from of my own family but now with the lights and sirens all around everyone within a 5 mile radius knew that something had happened and came down to look at the funny people and the upside down boat.

    Oh well, I am just thankful that no one got hurt and will add this to the memories that me and my wife will look back and laugh on when we grow old. Got to go now - will keep you updated in my adventures.

    Story # 16: "One more voyage"

    Story contributed by John Gerow. John sails his 1969 Buccaneer "Notorious" in Pennsylvania. © September 18, 2000 by John Gerow

    "My love affair with "Notorious" has made its way into my newspaper column, Near Common Sense. This column was published earlier this fall.

    September is more than half spent and I know that the first frosty mornings are not long away. My robins have fled south, and I notice that other birds are flocking, getting set for their migration. Winter, with all that it is and with all that it means, lies waiting some where just beyond tomorrow. Time is of the essence now, as it is, once again, later than I think.

    I gaze out across the lake and contemplate my summer love affair with this place...

    April -- the surface of the lake rough and wind tossed, steel gray beneath a steel gray sky. The forests around the shore are still their winter gray. Kahle Lake, hidden here in these folds in the earth waits for spring to quicken her. I study the water and the wind, not really sure what it is that I need to know.

    June -- and late spring brings life to the lake and to the shores. The woods are full of trees in countless shades of green, reaching gratefully toward the sun. I am struggling to learn my boat, I do not take the time to revel in spring's glory on the lake. My learning comes in fits and starts, somewhat like the winds that dance across the water. I am finding some of the comfort in tranquillity that I thought I might find sailing; but I am learning some hard lessons about the wind, the water, and the ship.

    July -- full summer stretches majestically across the plateau, with a bright hot sun in a brassy sky and winds that whisper of thunder storms just over the horizon. The water on the lake is blue enough to mirror the sky, and clouds dance and sail across the sky, teasing me while I continue to learn my new, chosen, art.

    August -- and the taste of fall is in the air. The land around the lake is almost corrupt in the full summer richness. The forests are almost overburdened with their cargo of leaves. Spring's promise has been fulfilled.

    My children find time in their busy teen age lives to spend two weeks with Dad at the tail end of summer. We manage to steal three afternoons to go sailing. I want to share my new passion with my children, who have always been my first love. I hope that they too will sense the potential for peace and quiet that sailing offers.

    While the boys rig the boat, Sarah wades along the water's edge. The boys approach the rigging relying on their sheer strength; they do not have the finesse that middle aged men learn to use when strength begins to fade. I marvel at my children; they are so tall and straight and fair! I see them at the lake, but I also see them as toddlers playing in the tree shaded brook below the barn in a long ago, far away world.

    We are rewarded one lovely August afternoon by being allowed to see a bald eagle soar above the lake and dive into the water to catch a fish. It is a rare sight; and momentarily at least, the three children are silent in awe. They have witnessed one of nature's greatest sights. We have a history of special moments that must stand in for my long, unwanted absences. Our eagle afternoon is one more moment that binds us together as a family.

    September, and my lake is beginning to take on its winter hue. The water is black and promises to be cold as summer fades away. The forests that surround the lake are beginning to show the first signs of color and gold and red and orange begin to push out the rich summer green. My special lake seems empty without the children, but I know this feeling well. For all these long years now, my personal summer ends when the children leave. I may never get over this old litany.

    But still I sail. Time is of the essence and it is always later than I think.

    Sailing this afternoon reminds me of a poem by Leonard Cohen called "The Kite"

    "The kite is a victim you can be sure of, It pulls gently enough to call you Master, strong enough to call you Fool. . ." My sloop "Notorious" is a lot like Leonard Cohen's Kite. She lulls me into a near drowsy state as the wind barely moves across the water, and then she snaps me back to reality by catching the wind and racing across the lake, like the devil himself is after her.

    There are moments when I feel a mastery of wind and sail; and then there are moments when I am bond in awe to the mastery of the wind and sail. Just when I begin to feel a touch of pride and arrogance, the wind and the ship conspire to remind me that I am the interloper; and I am battered into humility before forces that I can barely comprehend.

    Sometimes, Notorious and I drift, almost at random, waiting for the wind. And sometimes, I'm able to set a heading and sail her exactly where I want her to go. And sometimes, sometimes, just like life itself, I find that I am going somewhere where the wind wants me to go. Sometimes, I am a very willing victim.

    September is more than half spent and I know that the first frosty mornings are not long away. Winter, with all that it is and with all that it means, lies waiting some where just beyond tomorrow. Time is of the essence now, as it is, once again, later than I think. I stole one more afternoon in the sun and the wind with the boat. Maybe, maybe, just maybe there will be one more voyage before winter closes in."

    Story # 17: "You Had to be There"

    Story contributed by Joe Thompson. Joe Thompson & Mike Trautman sail their 1978 C-26 "Star Chaser" on Lake Clinton, Illinois.

    "This is a letter worth reading. It sums up my real feelings about this Chrysler 26. I wrote it a year ago, shortly after we got the boat and were becoming used to its characteristics. I tend to like to go out when there are red flags flying, and this was one of those days. With all the years of sailing I have behind me, all the deliveries I have done, and all the boats I have crewed on, and a transatlantic race... never have I seen one that likes to sail herself like this boat. I do NOT know if all Chrysler 26's are this way or not - and would appreciate your input on this, but here is my experience with this boat last year on a day when it was really blowing stink ...

    I got out to the lake and helped the folks with the pretty little red boat (the fancy one with the yawl rig aft and all the fancy fittings - a few boats down from us on the same side); they were nice, and it was fun ...

    Then, I got on Star Chaser and got her ready to go out. Mind you, now, I am wearing a short sleeved shirt and a shorts, and even in the wind I am perfectly comfortable ...

    So, I head on out, set the main sail only and all seemed well. But, then I noticed the topping lift line flying out from the top of the mast - it had worked through the jam clean opening by the boom and was a blowin' in the wind - and nearly horizontal, too. After a while it was apparent that the whole thing was working up to the mast and as it was trying to get tied up in the wind vane, after a couple efforts to climb the front of the mast to get it - while running downwind, and nearly losing my ass, I decided to pull it on down ...

    So, at present we are using the jib sheet as the topping lift and the spinnaker halyard as the jib halyard works well enough, but I am sorry to have lost the bitter end ...

    Well, the day was great but the wind was BLUSTERY; not just windy, but heavy to real stink. And off we went up to the dam and back ...

    On the way back, Bill Volkeck in Blue Belle was motoring around with his life jacket on; too windy for him to put up the sails and we passed near enough to speak. Mind you, I was casually sitting on the cabin top drinking a cup of tea, just to rub it in. I offered him a ride, so back to the marina where he put his to bed and off we went again. This time with a reef in the main and the storm jib up ...

    Of course, as soon as we got out I tied off the tiller and just sat there talking with him, making no notice of the fact that I wasn't steering, but just working to windward like a freight train ...

    He was duly impressed and confirmed he had never seen a boat sail like "Star Chaser" and, of course, commented on how much like a heavy and stable 35 footer it felt like. This was followed by the Herreshoff hull conversation we are all familiar with ...

    Finally, I asked him if he wanted to see below (but understand, the wind was still blowing very hard). So, below we went, tiller still tied in place and still screaming PERFECTLY to windward. The wind is really piping up to 35 at times and the water was flying so much it was coming up over the bow in sheets and going into the cabin so we had to close the hatch - for the first time ever, I might add ...

    So, there we were, both sitting below with nobody in the cockpit - hatch pulled back and just flying. Once, we had a gust that almost decanted us from the port settee to the starboard settee and you could see he was ready to rush back on deck to try to do "something". I told him to relax, and, of course, in a second we were still on course and still flying ...


    There we sat for about 10 minutes working westward and WELL off shore when the unexpected happened - we touched bottom on that shallow spot well off the point (by the way, the water is down even more), but, we were flying so fast and the keel handle was right between my legs as I sat, so I just said, "I guess we better raise the keel a bit" and so, I did - cranking in about 10 turns, and on we flew - never a pause; no change in handling, no change in course, no change in nuttin' - just a truckin' on to windward, dead on course - blowing like stink, and straight as a string, and nobody in the cockpit doing anything ...

    Well, I have to give him credit - he said "This is something; I have had two-foot-itis for a long time, and this makes it worse. I would be working the dickens out of the tiller on Blue Belle." And, I guess, with the weather helm that one has, he surely would, wouldn't he ... (grin)

    Finally, he walked around and checked everything out and we were getting close to the western shore and it was time to turn around, so we did. I reset the tiller string and off we went, nearly dead before the wind, and not a soul on the tiller (but, of course you have to watch it going down-wind, it won't stay that way forever, of course) ...

    Then, Bill asked if he could try the tiller, and, of course I said "sure, but it doesn't take much, the boat trims out pretty well" (hehehehehe). And we took off the tiller rope and he started to steer ...

    And, I mean, my good friend - if you have a MacGregor you just HAVE to work the hell out of the tiller - must be part of the training that goes with it. So, there we were running along and he is pumping on that damn thing like a kid who just primed a hand pump for an old well ...

    After a few minutes I suggested "if you just find the grove it will take care of itself most of the time - no real need to steer that hard." (grin ... grin ... grin ... and, ... grin ...) He said, "this boat is no fun - you don't have anything to do. She sails better when you don't steer."

    Well, as I had just started going forward to take down the storm jib I just kept on moving and didn't say a word. I thought about saying "I am the laziest sailor in the world and if you find anybody who hates to steer more than I do, show me to him. I may need to chill out and relax some more." (hehehe) But, I decided to show some mercy on him, so I kept my mouth shut. Hell, he was working three times harder when he was in HIS boat using JUST the motor and NO sail and I was flying past him sitting on the cabin roof waving ...

    Well, mate, you HAD to be there, no question. In the strong gusts these were the heaviest wind conditions I have been out in this boat yet. Like I said, we had water flying everywhere and I had just about come to the conclusion it was impossible to do that but, if you are crashing into rolling waves and white foaming streaks, I guess it is possible. I am DELIGHTED to confirm the boat doesn't care a bit - the excellent trim we had noticed before stays as good in real heavy conditions as it does is just regular heavy conditions and nice weather, too. But the blowing water IS getting a bit cool for tee shirts and shorts ...

    Then, in the end, when we were docked and Bill was saying his thanks, I could tell he really got it - he really understood. He said, "That boat really likes to sail doesn't it?"

    And, I said with genuine appreciation for his understanding - "Yes, she sure does and she spent 9 years on a farm waiting to be sold. I am sure she is much happier now." And he knew I meant it. It was a good day ...

    Now, I have a nice invitation to see what a 25 foot MacGregor sails like some time ...

    Sorry about the topping lift - we will need some kid to hoist to the top of the mast, or maybe I can hoist you up; but a kid would be better ...

    It was a hell of a day ..."

    Story # 19: "Mast Confusion"

    Story contributed by Michael McNab. Michael & Theresa McNab sail their 1977 C-22 "Mast Confusion" on the Jersey Shore, New Jersey.

    "This is in response to "Story # 15: "Wounded Pride". We too tried to sail our '77 mutineer in New Hampshire; our trip was to Lake Winnepasaukee. We had high hopes for 3 or 4 days of sailing. But instead, all we came away with was a name for our boat and a lot of work to do. We bought our Mutineer in '99 but hadn't sailed it much. So we were very excited to have a long weekend to just practice and have some fun.

    The first morning out we thought we were well prepared. The house we rented had its own dock, although not on the main part of the lake, and we launched and rigged her right out in the backyard. There was some difficulty getting close to the open part of the lake due to little wind and the shallow inlet we were on. However, this was not our main problem. As my wife and I maneuvered the small inlet searching for wind and watching for rocks, I noticed a thin metal cable just floating in the air. 'What's that?" I asked my wife. "@*%*$! that's the shroud" she replied. I grabbed the shroud in one hand and searched for the cotter pin and clip with the other. Not realizing why the mast had not yet fallen, I asked my wife to change direction since we were headed for a dock and another boat. It was then I realized that it is very difficult to hold a mast with even the slightest wind.

    We paddled back to the house with our mast horizontal and nothing to do for the next 3 days.

    After repairing the mast step we plan to sail our Mutineer, 'Mast Confusion' at the Jersey shore, and take our time rigging it."

    Story # 20: "Swing Keel Slamming"

    Story contributed by Frank Dwyer. Frank sails his C-22 "Heather Sea" on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

    "This happened to me on the day I bought my C22 when I was on about 120-150 NM solo sail to bring her home. I didn't pull her out of the water, because a survey was just done and I had the keel cable replaced only a couple of weeks before. The problem was that the previous owner decided to go with a plastic coated cable in an attempt to reduce hum. What he apparently didn't know was that his plastic was coating plain steel and not stainless. I didn't (and wouldn't) put on a steel keel cable. Being brand new and covered in plastic, it wasn't possible to tell that it was steel from inside the boat. In fact, I only found out after replacing the one that had rusted through.

    I was offshore when the slamming blew a hole in the hull. It got gradually worse as the swell/chop caused the keel to slam into the hull. I was committed and had no choice but to continue the last 40 or 50 NMs of my trip as there are no ports in the area. Water had completely filled the inner hull and found about a half a dozen places to come out including the port rear seat, starboard pin access, bolt holes where the head was attached and the port front seat compartment (through the top of the comparment alongside the hull). I was plugging holes with anything I could find and throwing anything out of the boat I could to lighten the load. It was not a pleasant experience to say the least. I couldn't sail and bail at the same time so I dropped the jib and used the main with the motor to get myself home.

    The keel blew a hole in the boat about the size of a grapefruit, but you would be suprised how much water was coming in. I was lucky that the weather was great on the day this happened to me. If a storm had come up, that keel would have turned my boat to a giant lump of fiberglass strands.

    Being a Marine Communications and Traffic Serivices Officer (Coast Guard Radio and Vessel Traffic Services), my pride kept me from asking for help. It turns out that a LightKeeper reported to my mates that I was having trouble and they sent out a Coast Guard ship anyway. They just stood by for the last 10 miles, but I made it in under my own power.

    If you are sailing offshore, you never know when the seas and swell are going to go from bad to worse. Under heavy weather conditions, even the best, well maintained cable and shackle won't last forever with 800 lbs pounding again and again. I'd bet 800 pounds after swinging 5 ft is something closer to 2000-3000 lbs. If it can't break the cable, eventually it will rip the deck out where the winch is attached.

    Now if you are sailing in a lake, no problem - I wouldn't get excited. I sail in the wide open Pacific and on a good day, the combined wind wave and swell can be 10 ft+ so I am considering adding some rubber before mine goes back in the water. I look forward to seeing some pictures of the rubber that another member recently mentioned.

    Didn't mean to write a novel, but thought some might be interested in my story."

    This page last updated on Saturday, July 7, 2001.