(Another) Storm....but a big one this time!
Chiscos - Atlantic Cruise
Fri 15 Jun 2012 11:14
We started getting concerned on Tuesday when the grib files which forecast our likely weather, showed a deep depression, right in our track for the UK. Other feed back from the radio net etc suggested this was going to be an 'unseasonably vigorous depression' to the west of the UK. One source said there would be 50 knot winds (Gale force 10) with 8 metre swells,enough to overwhelm Chiscos. So I took the decision to steer due East to try and avoid the worst of it.
By Wednesday evening the wind started to build quickly, even though we were 200 miles south of the centre of the low. By 4am when the watch changed the wind had risen to 40+ knots and we were taking all but the tiniest amount of sail in. By 0600, the wind was howling and the seas were up to about 6 - 7 metres. The highest gusts we saw were 48.5 knots. The scene from the cockpit was unbelievable, white water and breaking seas everywhere, the boat leaping about and the wind so strong, it was blowing the seas flat, but picking up funnels of spray and whipping them round. The on watch person was clipped on in the cockpit, everyone else below, with all the hatches shut. It was a lonely place to be watching the seas heaving about behind you, wondering if the next was was going to break over the boat and swap us. We had to keep our stern to the wind and the hydro vane did a good job. If the boat slewed round we would be in danger of being rolled.
We discussed storm tactics and debated what our next move would be should the conditions get more extreme. It was a grim discussion. Morale was low and we feared for our lives.
John B was on watch at about 0900, when he said the barometric pressure had stopped falling and had shown a small increase, suggesting the low pressure might have passed over us. However, the wind was still howling and the seas enormous.
We ran all of Thursday with just the tiniest bit of main sail up, hoping that things would improve and not deteriorate further. By Thursday night the wind had moderated slightly, to give us steady 35 knots (gale force 9). We set a very very small amount of jib and snugged down for the night, all exhausted. Just around tea time we were feeling more optimistic that things were improving, when a wave came up behind us and completely filled the cockpit and drenched M & myself as we stood in there. She was dressed in full oilskins & boots, I had just gone up in my day clothes and shoes, and paid the price! The water was about thigh deep for a few minutes until it drained away. Fortunately we had all the washboards in and we only had a small amount of water below.
This morning, the seas have moderated further, and although they are very confused, the swells are longer and not breaking so viciously. It is still blowing force 6 - 7. The one good thing is that this storm has all been behind us and we have been blown quickly towards Falmouth. We now have 270 miles to run and hope to be there sometime on Sunday.
We didn't break anything in the storm and apart from some frayed nerves we came through it OK. This morning the crew are on good form and discussing what they are looking forward to when we arrive.