Gripping account from yacht caught in storm. - SailNet Community

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Old 04-19-2007
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Exclamation Gripping account from yacht caught in storm.

I felt seasick just reading the account of Yacht Aquarelle's horrific experience in a storm in the Tasman last week. Thankfully, they're all safe and sound back in New Zealand. This account is not to query what was done right or wrong but more about the actual experience, the fear, - of being with them on board. I am happy that they are willing to describe this and share it with us all.

I do hope that this does not deter them from continuing with their circumnavigation.

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Old 04-19-2007
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Good to hear they made it back safe and sound. However, the following passage really worries me:

Quote:
Our closed companion way allowed water to flood into the boat, as did the pilothouse hatches and Vetus vents and unbeknownst to us at the time a port in the v-berth had burst open.
If they knew they were heading into bad weather, and they should have known, as setting out without checking the forecast is both poor seamanship and exceptionally stupid, why didn't they close off the Vetus Vents?

It also sounds as if they hadn't stowed everything in expectation of a knockdown. A closed companion way shouldn't allow water to flood at all. What did they close it with? ventilated louvered drop boards???

Granted the initial forecast was for "a 15 kt winds building throughout the day until Friday afternoon when 30kts and 3 meter swells were expected to peak and then ease late that night with westerlies to15 kts on Saturday".

But did they not get an updated forecast between the time they left and 6:00 pm? In the nine hours that passed, even as bad as weather forecasting is today, they would have probably known that the storm was going to be an order of magnitude worse than what was previously predicted, and could have turned back before getting clobbered.
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Old 04-19-2007
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The real problem began right here:

"We passed Farewell Spit about 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening and joking commented that perhaps we should pull into Torrent Bay for a good nights rest and start out again in the morning. Naturally, all aboard rejected that idea."

It's just like reefing. When you think about it first - that is when you do it. I am amazed at the fact that they rejected this idea "naturally". This is how trouble starts most of the time.
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Old 04-19-2007
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SD...I entirely disagree with your assessment. The weather forecast was building to 30 knots then easing to 15 when they left for an open water passage. Less than 18 hours later they were in near hurricane force winds and seas. While it would have been nice to have had an interim weather report, I don't think it is reasonable to expect that a captain on passage would be required to check on a relatively benign forecast within 24 hours.
Nor would one expect to be rigged for a knockdown on such a passage.
You can second guess any incident but I see no gross failures in seamanship here. Indeed...it seems to me that the GROSS failure here was the inability of the weather service to predict the next 24 hours with any reasonable degree of accuracy. THAT is scary!
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Old 04-19-2007
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Wow, that must have been..."exciting".

Cam, what do you mean rigged for a knockdown. Pardon my newness, but I am not sure what a knockdown is. Is it being knocked on your side by a wave? How does one rig for that?
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Old 04-19-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camaraderie
SD...I entirely disagree with your assessment. The weather forecast was building to 30 knots then easing to 15 when they left for an open water passage. Less than 18 hours later they were in near hurricane force winds and seas. While it would have been nice to have had an interim weather report, I don't think it is reasonable to expect that a captain on passage would be required to check on a relatively benign forecast within 24 hours.
Nor would one expect to be rigged for a knockdown on such a passage.
You can second guess any incident but I see no gross failures in seamanship here. Indeed...it seems to me that the GROSS failure here was the inability of the weather service to predict the next 24 hours with any reasonable degree of accuracy. THAT is scary!
Sailingdog is the king of arm chair voyaging and the sailors who are out there are never as well prepared or as competent as he...if he was out there that is.
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Old 04-19-2007
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Skrap...yeah a knockdown is 90 degrees plus on your side without actually rolling over. Rigging for sea basically means getting everything down below secure so that it won't go flying around the cabin in rought seas....particularly heavy stuff! Riggng for a knock down means insuring the boat exterior is "sealed" so that a broach will not flood the boat. This would include hatchboards & companionway secured...dorades removed and plates installed, all hatches secured etc. . The object is to insure the boat acts like a cork rather than a stone after the knockdown.
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Old 04-19-2007
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BADG ouch!
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Old 04-19-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SallyH
I found that account confusing in the extreme (weather). I'm happy they lived, but I don't know whether they were lucky and unprepared, or prepared and unlucky.

I just figure that when you ready for sea, particularly in an area like around NZ known for rapidly deteriorating and sketchily reported weather (I've read "Rescue in the Pacific" and the fairly non-chalant attitude of the NZ Met Office rang a bell), you assume the worst could happen and you batten down everything you can.

Could they not hove-to? Did the pumps work? Did the companionway hatches burst or just squirt? Did they have storm shutters? A storm staysail?

Dunno! Sounds pretty bad, but it's hard to say if it could have been better.
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Old 04-19-2007
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Ok, what I got from this was:

1. They didn't have a storm sail set.

2. They obviously haven't paid much attention to the fact that the Southern ocean will kill you quickly if you aren't prepared. That ain't the Caribe down there.

3. They were not equipped for a Circumnav through that part of the world or they would've know how to get ready and what weaknesses they had in the boat. Have you guys ever taken a pressure washer to your closed up boat? It'll tell ya quick if she leaks and where.

I'm glad they survived but they weren't ready. I'll bet they're more prepared next time if they don't let this scare them away. One thing's certain, they've seen it almost as bad as it gets and know that their boat can handle it, even if they can't.
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