Originally Posted by smurphny
It doesn't seem like 18' seas should have been too much for a boat of that size. Sounds like she opened up some seams and pumps couldn't keep up with it.
There's a big difference between 18 ft seas with a 15 second period and the 18 ft. seas you may find on the eastern side of the Gulf Stream (which is where they seem to be) with gale / trop storm force winds out of the north. An 18 foot wave with a really steep face (which is what happens when you have strong winds against a big current) can be a killer even in a boat this size -- first one stops forward progress, second one pushes the bow off the wind, third one and those following break over the ship. Not good.
Re. seams opening and pumps not being able to keep up....that's a reasonalbe guess. Big waves pushing an older wooden boat around will probably put some nasty forces on the hull / rig.
As for being in the wrong place at the wrong time....if he left Canada before the storm developed, the skipper would have faced some difficult choices. Remember that when the storm was over Jamacia half or more of the models forecast it to go NE into the Atlantic. It was only as the storm moved north that they shifted the track to the west and eventually decided it would take the left turn. If you're south of the Gulf Stream on the longitude of, say, Cape Cod, and facing a tropical storm moving north over the Bahamas, where 1/2 of the models say it's going east and half west, what do you do? Not an easy decision, eh?