The Sean Seamour II events referenced by Jon Pollard below must take into consideration the extraordinary situation I encountered, ST Storm Andrea was not anticipated and the Director of the NHC was squarely faulted and lost his job. This was my third crossing, I am responding in part to relate my first, solo in 1996 in a very similar vessel to the one you are referencing as it was an Oceanis 321. I tell it as it comes, the captain holds the final decision.
For a number of reasons I was two months late in setting off, and already in hurricane season.
I had spent all winter living aboard preparing us for this adventure, I had read up and learned what I could about storm tactics, survival, contingencies, you name it.
I left Annapolis for Cape Cod July 4th as Hurricane Bertha was rolling toward the southern coastline, from that destination I watched her batter through then cross the cape on the 13th , confident she would putter north I set sail the next morning.
Lou Pantaï was not equipped like SSII, VHF and EPIRB were my only com links to the outer world. Some four days out the weather soured, by early morning winds exceeded fifty knots, by midday waves were in the twenty feet, late afternoon I knew alone I cold not helm through the night. My contingency plan was the sea anchor. As I deployed it a wave overwhelmed the autopilot spinning the vessel around, the slack in the drogue line passed it under the rudder entangling it in the prop. Meanwhile here I am dangling on the bow hoping the tether holds while I unsuccessfully attempt to retrieve the sea anchor. Adrenaline is still providing resource but anxiety is beginning to build, I quickly realize I need to extend the anchor line, again I was prepared, but the second mistake was to forget to extend the retrieval line which collapses the parachute, the buoy is now some 150 feet off the bow, irretrievable without propulsion now off line with the drogue line entanglement.
Night befalls, storm increases, my confidence evaporates. There is nothing more I can do but hope. That too evaporates. In the early hours of the morning the winds grow howling through the rig I imagine myself inside a screeching violin. I am still obsessed by my predicament, how to resolve retrieving the drogue I cannot afford to loose, how to retrieve the sea anchor I similarly cannot afford to loose, how to free the prop. By morning the storm is reaching its peak, but that's hindsight, for me the worst is yet to come and I begin to loose reserves of confidence as I attempt to start the engine to keep myself busy. Again hindsight, water has infiltrated through the tank vents.
By late evening I am totally depressed, laying flat on the cabin sole to avoid any more cuts and bruises I despair at the thought of never seeing my children again, the screeching continues, I catch a notebook and start writing three letters, one for each child. Carrols Creek Café had dropped a case of ginger beer in the cockpit as a going away gift, I empty three bottles, push a note in each and seal them. By daybreak nothing has changed, I feel my doom is a question of time, the bottles overboard I hunker back to my cabin sole. The mind is a strange thing as once again I consider pulling the EPIRB, once again I decide not to as somehow it doesn't seem to be the right thing to do. In reality I don't quite understand it, Curly at AYS has insisted I include it in my preparation, bless him for it saved our lives at a critical moment of two and a half years ago.
Later that day my radar detector beeps, I am jolted back to real life, a frantic belief I might survive this, I try and try hailing on the VHF, finally a freighter responds, tells me the depression in passing, so would mine be as I later danced on that cabin sole all the way to Horta, the rest is history.
Lessons learned are all in our artseaprovence blog by the Final Log. Make sure your boat is US made, they are far better built in SC than France, that it is an older version as the more recent the more tolerances seem to have been stretched. Finally, although the hurricane season continues to stretch out earlier the window is April-May, use Herb as a router.
Break a leg, JP
I am thinking of buying a 32s5 in the US, sailing the Caribbean and in May with professional help crossing east-west to the mediterranean. Am I mad? Can a boat that is designed for weekend cruising and some racing do this voyage. I know it needs to be reefed early so can this sort of hull be sailed (and hove to in foul weather) 2000 nm? I know a 10m boat is OK for the Atlantic but I am a bit concerned if this sort of hull is suitable or I am crazy.