Daytrip to Isle of Axe (Kirvessaari)

By Markku Valkama - Laukaa - Finland


In Autumn 2007 my AF3 did capsize. It happened due to the gusts from a cumulonimbus (Thunder cloud). I was sailing on Lake Lievestuore wondering why I was alone. Then I saw The cloud, a big cumulonimbus.


(Actually a cumulonimbus is nice cloud if you are flying a modern, fast sailplane. As I often do. The speeds one can reach under it! But it's not safe either.)

When sailing; you do not want to be near one. Any way, there I was, in the middle of The lake looking the water making funny lines caused of the gusts, but no waves. Then it hit me (or the boat).

I released the rope and let the sail flare but the wind pushed my little boat sideways and I had no control at all! I tried to take control of things and carefully tightened the rope again and, to my surprise, the boat started to move forward again. Straight to the rocky shore of the nearby isle.

So I knew I needed to do something. I did try to turn back to homeport but because I was unable to turn against the wind I tried to turn to downwind and then it happened. The sail (lugsail) did suddenly move to a strange position causing forces which made the boat to capsize.

There I was in the water (57º F) wondering what happened while the cloud was raining ice all over me! Okay, after a while I realized I needed to do something, so I released the sail of the mast and swam to the other side of the boat and hung on to the leeboard and turned the boat up again, no problem at all. The problem was getting back into the boat! You can't do it from the side or it will capsize again. The transom is the only way back, but it is high, especially when you have a lot of clothes on heavy with water. But because of the low temperature of the water, I knew I need to get back to the boat and by reasons I do not know I did find the ability to climb on board. It was a scary thing anyway.

Table set for dinner

Back in the boat I collected the sail from water and get rid of the water in the cockpit. On the way back to the homeport using the trolling motor which I have in case of calm (no calm at that time, I can assure), I had time to think what went wrong and there is some things I found out:

1. I did not read the weather right and went sailing when it was not a smart thing to do.

2. I did not have any at all safety equipment on board!

3. I had not informed anybody of where I was going and how long I indented to be there!

In the matter of fact I did everything wrong. Luckily I am alive.

Markku Valkama

P. S. Now I have ladders on the transom of my AF3

For more pictures of trip, click here.


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