I was 15 or 16 years old at the time moving our family sail boat from the San Francisco area to L.A. with my Dad.
It was about a 3 hour trip from Redwood City, where our boat was in a marina to the Bay Area, we left around 3 a.m. when the tide was high enough for the keel of our 33 foot Yorktown sail boat, the vessel Respite, could clear the rarely dragged, thus shallow waters. Upon arrival to the Bay we stopped to take on some fuel for the diesel engine and my father made an attempt to add what is known as a radar reflector to our mast. The mast on this boat was about 40 feet above the deck and my father lost faith in the ropes pulling him to the top half way and elected to install the reflector on the starbord spreader. (A spreader is the cross in the mast held in place by rope or cables)
We set sail from one of the piers in the Bay around 9 a.m. heading toward open ocean under the Golden Gate Bridge. The trip would take 3 full days as the boat traveled at around 7 knots 8 miles per hour best case. All was going well up until 10 hours or so of travel in the ocean when the engine (which we had been using) began to fail. Being on a sail boat this was not a huge problem, we chose to continue the trip using the sails and call for a tow if we could not restart the engines once we reached L.A.
If you recall I mentioned the spreader? It turns out they are not designed to handle any weight and installing the reflector over it may not have been a good idea. Under the force of the wind, they spreader ripped off from the boat sending the mast and sails bending over into the Ocean. I still remember my father and his friend jumping up on the deck to pull the sails down and telling me to call the Coast Guard.
32 years later I still recall the signs. "Coast Guard - Coast Guard - This is Vessel Respite CF4229GK - Whiskey - Tango - Bravo, we have lost our engine and are without sail. ROGER Vessel Respite this is Coast Guard Station Half Moon Bay, we show you as a 33 foot sloop in 22 foot swells, we only have a 50 foot vessel from this location, we are unable to navigate 22 foot swells and will send a cutter from San Francisco. They will be on scene in 12 hours. Continue radio communication each 15 minutes until contacted by cutter".
Obviously after a long 12 or 13 hours we were rescued and towed by a 150 Foot United States Coast Guard Cutter back to safety. It was an adventure to say the least and to this day I am the only person I have met to be rescued by the Coast Guard. While ultimately, what seemed to be a complete disaster at the time, it has ended being one of the best memories I have with my Dad who recently passed away. Proof that very few of life's "disasters" truly are disasters. There was really no harm done to the Respite, the engine failure turned out to be debris in her fuel tank and the mast, well, my Dad, his friend Rudy and myself all knew too well the cause of that. She eventually made it to L.A. a few weeks later.
As a footnote: The photo above was not of our boat. It is another of the same type in our marina. My father replaced that boat many years ago after learning and many hundreds of hours and more importantly great times on her. While she was replaced with much larger ocean going sail boat, I will always have the best memories from the Vessel Respite CF4229GK and the time my father and I shared and learned on her.