11 Dec

December 7, 2018

Day 64

Noon Position: 44 25S 43 51W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): E 4

Wind(t/tws): SWxS 14

Sea(t/ft): SE  10

Sky: Clear here; a front moving in from the S, the next system

10ths Cloud Cover: 5

Bar(mb): 1008+, falling with purpose (1002+ as I type five hours later)

Cabin Temp(f): 59

Water Temp(f): 55 (warm)

Relative Humidity(%): 77

Sail: Working jib full; broad reach

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 109

Miles since departure: 8650

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

My concern about today’s system moving in over yesterday’s sea was ill-founded. There was enough of a gap, and now we ride the building westerly on a predominantly westerly sea. Small yet, but there is time.

Last night Mo was badly pooped. Winds were 40 – 45 knots for several hours during the day. Forecast for 30. Grand, heavy seas towered over the boat by day’s end, but Mo took them easily on starboard quarter with deeply reefed jib. Decks were not even wet for much of the blow. Surfing was infrequent and not fast.

I spent much of the afternoon going back and forth from bow to cockpit while experimenting with car placement for a deeply reefed working jib. I never got wet. Wind eased a tiny bit at night but was still 38 – 40 when I started sleeping at 9 pm.

I’m dozing uneasily at 10:30 when WHAM. Mo lurches and goes over. For a second, I thought she’d go all the way. The sound of water in the boat.

The companionway hatch is closed and locked (as per normal in rough weather–and usually all the time down here), but with a flash light I can see from my bunk that water is everywhere in the pilot house. Once up I find no broken window. I open the hatch. The dodger’s plastic door is ripped off it zipper to starboard. I look aft; Monte’s wind is vane gone. Not broken, just gone. The starboard cubbies in the cockpit are cleaned out; all contents are on the cockpit sole. Sheets are trailing over the side. The cockpit is still draining water.

Now we are lying ahull in an ugly sea. I switch on Otto and grab another vane for Monte, thinking to quickly get us on course while I inspect Monte for other damage. Once at Monte, however, I see no other damage and the other vane is miraculously sitting there on the aft deck. I put it back in its socket and we return to sailing.

Below is a wreck. The water that got in squirted through a small gap between the companionway hatch and the hatch cover’s rubber seal. The hatch didn’t fail; the locks didn’t fail; the pressure of the sea exploited the gap.

Every cushion and surface was running with water. I grabbed towels and began the mop-up ritual.

The good news: Mo lost NO electronics in the dousing. Thank you to Dustin Fox at Fox Electronics for the waterproof boxes. Things that were out, however, didn’t fare so well: my two favorite charts on the starboard table top were soaked (the Antarctica chart was out soaked during the Crozets knockdown, so think I can save both). Books that were out, Gypsy Moth Sails the World and Frost’s Practical Navigation, got wet but are salvageable. Tool drawers, wet but not soaked. The “office supplies” drawer: soaked. The rigging hardware drawer: soaked. There was water in the battery compartment.

After a few hours of cleaning, I did another inspection on deck. Both solar panels were intact. One strap clamp holding the emergency life raft to the rail had opened and hung loose (one strap of four). The boarding ladder was trailing in the water, and the outboard sat on its plate slightly askew (that it was there at all is amazing). I heard a grinding noise, which turned out to be the hydrogenerator impacting Monte’s water paddle. The unit was deployed at the time, and the wave bent its mounting bracket slightly.

I pulled the hydrogenerator for the night (have provisionally fixed it today), did an emergency lashing on the dodger doors till a proper sew-up later and went back to bed. It was 3am.

At the top, I said “badly pooped.” Given what could have happened, I think we faired pretty well. Towels and rugs dried in the sun today, mostly. Except for the soggy charts, we’re nearly back to normal.

Random power. Seas were heavy, steep and breaking yesterday, but not pitching forward. Where that one wave came from and how it got us…I’ll never get to know.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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