Join Date: Aug 2008
Thanked 7 Times in 6 Posts
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Well the Contessa 26, 32 are great boats and built right. Sorry for the sarcasm. I obviously made some assumptions about you that were wrong. There is a tendency on this forum for people to post about information they know nothing about. My only 2 offshore passage I made were long ones. I also have 17 Mac races under my belt and countless other passages on the Great Lakes. Ok it is the Great lakes but they still have 1000 footers sink there once in a while (Edmund Fitzgerald).
I experienced the 5% conditions once for 3 days and trust me none of the boats on the list would have made it without severe damage or worse. To wit, our friends left St. Thomas, VI 2 days after us in an Ericson 46. They were in the storm for 1 day. Their boat was well equipped with experienced (over 100 years) crew. In that one day they broke every bulkhead in the boat, the nav station came off the side of the hull and the cabin sole detached. 2 of the crew were hurt including a broken collarbone. The boat was write-off when they limped into Norfolk 8 days after us.
Our boat was a custom aluminum 55 footer with pilothouse. All up, it came in at 31,000 lb with a hydraulic lifting keel with 13,000 lead bulb that drew 10-1/2 feet. The boat was ready for anything which is great. 4 60 gallon fuel tanks with pumps and tank minder, 100 hp laser-aligned turbo diesel in watertight compartment. 2 under deck autopilots with with electronic rudder sensors. Boat construction was robust to say the least. Forward crash bulkhead, deck hatch to sealed anchor and chain locker, watertight bulkheads, ring frames, 2 longitudinal stringers. The mast, keel, and engine were securely bolted between the stringers.
The boat could be steered from inside the pilothouse which had a gimbaled helm chair and pilot berth to starboard. We had 2 EPIRBS, offshore liferaft, Satphone, weatherfax, SSB, 36 mile radar, generator, watermaker and a navigation computer.
The boat was designed by the owner with a professional engineering study and constructed by a commercial boatbuilder in Canada. To say the least, we were prepared and the boat was ready for it. I would imagine the replacement cost would be $5-700,000. The owner ,because he did all the interior work and design work, had less than half of that in it. A true offshore cruiser that you could go anywhere with reasonable safety. Cruising range under power around 1200 miles at 10 knots. We made several 200 mile days which is great since you can sail fast enough to avoid a lot of bad weather.
Our mistake was that we went with the weather which caused us to stay in the storm longer. Offshore weather off the east coast of the US can be very tricky. We had good forecasts which called for 25-35 knots. Unfortunately 3 low pressure systems joined together to make the sustained winds go to 45-55 knots. We incorrectly assumed that the Gulf Stream would not be a factor. Boy, were we wrong as the SE storm piled up waves against the south running eddies way east of the stream. Think English channel type steep waves with a fairly short duration that were 25 feet.
You will probably never experience the 5% conditions but if you do then you need to be prepared. Obviously you can navigate and plan your trip to avoid the worst but Cape Horn- yikes! Good luck in your boat search.