We survived the terror in good company

Randall B Griepp
Wed 7 Nov 2012 17:24

29:39.6N 70:26.7W

November 7 Wednesday 13:00

We fixed the jib and put it up yesterday morning and started sailing again. Pleasant day with mostly calm seas and bright sunshine. So easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. But we knew better this time after having lost the jib the other day; weather reports predicted high winds with heavy gusts and thunderstorms for the area that we are sailing through. This activity is all related to the low pressure system developing off the coast of Florida with a front heading our way. Clouds rolled in late afternoon, the winds picked up from SW at a steady clip around 20 knots and the seas started building; all indications that the front was approaching and the conditions at night might be a little rough. “ Fool me once, fool me twice…” we were not going to be fooled this time around. We reefed the main sail to the third reef and furled the jib forty percent and got ready for the night, which we all thought was going to be rough; we had no idea how rough it really was going to be. Winds at first picked up gradually to 20 to 25 knots around 8 pm. And we further rolled in the Jib to prevent Traveling Light going to the races like a rocket ship through the waves which by now were breaking over the starboard hull and pouring in buckets full of water over the cockpit with each wave. We thought that this might be the worst of it but it was not; The fury of the waves and the terror of the night struck at midnight when we were suddenly engulfed in a huge squall with driving rain, breaking waves at least 12 feet high and wind at over 45 knots. I have never been in conditions like this; sailing literature is full of descriptions of such encounters on the seas. Reading about it and imagining what it must be like is lot different than being in the middle of this mayhem. It felt like we were sailing into the Jaws of death with crashing waves and foam surrounding the boat lit up by intermittent eerie light of the lightning, the windward hull lifting up and pounding into the waves with green water, the color of the starboard running light, rushing over the cockpit windows. They say the wind roars down on you like a freight train to me it sounded like 747 s bearing down on us from all four directions of the compass. “Frightening”!  I called for the Skipper and David to come up from below; I did not want them to get trapped in their bunks if Traveling Light went belly-up. If we had not prepared by shortening sail before the night came you probably would not be reading these lines now; Good judgment call! The terror lasted maybe ten minutes but it was unending if you asked our opinion. The squall passed but rain and high winds lasted all night. We slowed down the boat as much as we could and things settled down towards dawn. As promised the sun rose from the East chasing away the terror of the night. We survived the night in good company; “Miss Piggy” is the name of another Catamaran that was the only other boat in our vicinity when terror came our way in the lonely Ocean…

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