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post #4 of Old 12-29-2006
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some of my bad weather log last month heading south to st martin

Well they say you are hit with a huge wave one in 100,000 times.
Tonight was the night. We were running down wind with the wind to our stern most of the day. The seas are running about 12-20 feet.
We were finally happy to have 20-30 knots of wind in the right direction to head us towards st Martin. I felt like I was caught in the Bermuda version of ground hog day as we wasted over 36 hours trying to get away from the Bermuda area.

Charles cooked a delicious dinner of Tuscan chicken wings with sautéed spinach and carvel cake for desert. After dinner, most of us were in our bunks sleeping or reading. Jim was on watch taking extra care as our radar unit it out. I was sleeping in our aft cabin and I felt the stern of the boat drop dramatically. Then I heard a huge slam on the cabin top louder than someone hitting it with a 1000-pound sledgehammer. By then I was wide-awake and I heard Jim yell "oh ****" and the boat lay over on its side and turned abruptly.
When I came forward, water was pouring down the stairs and the epirb had been set off as I could see its strobe light going off.
The epirb, a satellite transmitter, goes off or can be set off in an emergency, like the boat is sinking, the water set it off. I called Judy and my mother on the sat phone to tell them that if the coast guard called, tell them that we were in no danger.

We were sailing on our 1500 square foot Gennaker in 30 + knots true about 2am. Jim said he heard a roaring coming from the stern quarter and turned around just as a wave broke over our stern and sunk the aft end of the boat and stopped us . Then due to the lack of buoyancy and the fact that the boat was virtually stopped ,a 35 footer rolled over the boat. The entire boat was under water. We were also turned sideways by the wave. Jim seeing the first wave coming and sinking our stern had the sense of mind try to close the companionway hatch. Unfortunately he didn't get it all the way closed and water came pouring down the steps into the cabin. We were also using a fresh air vent with an internal fan assembly that was open in the cockpit- so we got another 150 gallons of water coming out that pipe into the cabin. The boat quickly popped up out of the water, the wind caught the sails, the autopilot made the course correction , and we were off and running. YEAH AMEL !!! Yeah Raymarine. I was really surprised that the pilot was still working.

The cockpit drained quickly as it was full of water, but the 2- 4 inch scuppers did their job, and we started the cleanup.
It took all six of us about 2 ½ hours to dry out all the wet bilges and
their contents. Most handy was a hand held bilge pump for pumping out the bilge storage. As many of you know, the amel bilges are dry and are not designed to drain as they are designed to never get wet

If the companionway was closed and the air vent was closed I believe we wouldn't have had any water below. NEW RULES NOW!!

Surprisingly no cabinets, drawers ,or bilges opened and spilled their contents.
I was also surprised that the Raymarine autopilot did not shut off or lose course.

We are all now dry, and a little salty. Showers will be good tomorrow and hopefully we will see the sun after 7 days and we can rinse out and dry a few dozen towels.
Fair winds,

Sunday 3am-to jerry ellstein—11/5/06 30-08n 63-48w
as the stomach turns
As please don't tell judy but--
After i wrote the last note i was about to hit the sack and i noticed the carpet was wet in my cabin.
I figured one of the ports or hatches took a hit but the bunk was dry.
I then thought about the third hole in the hull-the rudder post.
I opened up the starboard settee in my cabin to find gallons of greasy water.
The force of the wave that hit us blew the grease out of the rudder stock packing and is now leaking.
It looks like it takes a 60-75 mm wrench to tighten it. I don't have one and if I did I couldn't get to the nut with a long wrench. they must use a deep socket at the factory. I tried using a flat punch and mallet and tightened it down to a slow leak. Hopefully it won't get worse.
I think I can change the packing (I have spare) and re grease it at sea but the sea is too violent for now.
I will have to remove the autopilot and steering gear and steer using the factory supplied tiller so I can hopefully get to the packing nut. Meanwhile we have to sponge out the locker every 1/2 hour. Based upon the forecast we will have 25-30 kts for at least another 24 hours. Doesn’t make for much rest in the aft cabin--but it’s the passage not the destination that counts.--this one is a doozie.
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