18 October 2006 | 48,5.57N , 9,13.81W
15 knots, Course: 17 deg.
The ocean can be brutal. More to the point the weather can be. Yesterday was sunny but with large swells and I had been hitting 17 knots reaching on and off for most of the afternoon. Speeding off faster and faster, the feeling is exhilarating. With a reef in the main and the Genoa up I was under canvassed but the boat seemed balanced and needed little care.
There were the usual storm clouds and I'm getting good at knowing which ones will pass and which will hit. It was getting dark and I figured that I could handle this all night as it just felt so good. All I remember was it started to rain and the wind started to pick up as it always does. I thought I'd be ok and started to make supper. But this was different, the wind just got stronger and stronger and the boat went faster and faster. I saw the wind speed was now 45 knots, then all I remember was falling down towards the front of the boat.
Now the boat was lying on its side being flattened by the wind. The bow must have dug in and the boat gybed. I put on my safety harness / inflatable life vest and went out side in the pitch dark to see why we were not coming back up. It seemed like the wind was pinning the boat down with unbelievable force. The sail was above me still because the vang was preventing it from going over.
With the boat on its side I had to climb up to release it and it slammed over against the running backstay but the boat was still not coming up still and the wind was now intense. I saw waves sloshing down the companion way and quickly closed it and at the same time the boat popped upright.
The wind continued and the sails flogged like they would rip themselves to shreds. The genoa did, as the sheets were tied in a knot around the mast by now somehow. Eventually I furled it. The main sail was caught on the starboard runners and I couldn't lower the sail. Eventually it flogged itself loose.
The boat was now drifting sideways still pressed over but going nowhere without a headsail. I put in the third reef and felt my way forward in the dark to remove the sail ties and raise the new solant. As I did I saw the radar support was bent around the mast but no matter now. The wind was blasting and so the solant now flogged and wrapped its lines in a big knot on the mast winch and the runners on the main had now gone behind the sail... it goes on and on.
Finally I got the boat going again but on the wrong tack because of the runners, but I eventually got it sorted, found a comfortable heading. Inside the boat was a mess. The engine cover had ripped itself off and every container had emptied itself and was floating in about 100mm of water in the main cabin. The food from the stern storage was somehow in the forward compartment.
Did I mention all I had on was my long johns and base layer all this time. I was soaked and everything else was soaked. It's taken most of the night to recover and its continued with 30kts until just now when 20 seems like the wind has died. The swells are like mountains now and I'm still surfing - whooohoo - it's addictive.
All the best, Jonathan