Mel - thanks for the post. Definitely a lot to think about. And definitely a sober reminder.
I do have a question - in a situation like that, would it be better to be blown off course in order to ease the hammering on the boat? As I read it, I totally understood the desire to make Bermuda, but keeping that course at all costs, beam on to some nasty seas, I wondered what would be the better course of action.
Also, it seems like this might be the type of situation where a drogue/chute would help. No?
One thing we have to remember here, none of us was on this boat at the time. One can only Monday quarterback and second guess. I know what I would do with what is know at this time is this.
I would have heave-to or lay a course to ease the pounding on the boat. I personally experience this in my Gulf stream crossing a few months ago. There was no time frame to get to the Azores. So why take it. The boat was provision for an extended stay on the water. His water supply while contaminated was drinkable with boiling. Furthermore, it was raining so water collection was doable. As far a drogue/chute I will have to take a hazy on. I don't think the seas where that big and confused at that. However, if one doesn't have the sails to heave-to than that option of deploying a chute is absolute. Since George didn't have his sea-legs yet, laying low for as many days as this storm hung around, being comfortable and maybe repairing a few things would have been the wise choice. Having sea room affords this luxury.
A few things on bluewater cruising or just boats in general.
Engine access. This should be a no brainer but boat manufactures seem to put engines in boats as an afterthought. Access to the engine should be 360 accessible without acrobatics or contortionist acts. We all know that Murphy's Law will always kill the engine when it most needed. Having access to that engine is crucial.
Fuel systems - With contaiminated tanks I would have rigged up the jerry cans to supply the fuel right out the can for the generator and engine.
Few boat builders put on a fuel filtering system, like the fuel boss sytem, to change filters, bleed and backup fuel pumps.