Knocked down on way to Tahiti - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 05-20-2011
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Knocked down on way to Tahiti

We are now in Papeete, Tahiti after a nasty passage (850 miles, 8 days) from Mangareva in the Gambiers. Two days out from Mangareva we were hit by the edge of a Force 10 storm and knocked down. I say the edge of the storm since we had the strongest winds only for an hour or so while another boat on the same route had 10 hours of 45 to 55 knots.

I was sitting son the side deck beside the mast finishing adding some lashings to our dinghy when we must have broached (we were sailing downwind with a postage stamp jib out) and were hit by a lot of warm, green stuff. I was in water above my waste but held on by two tethers and two hands around shroud. When I got back to the cockpit it was full of water and my wife was bailing with a pot that previously had held soil and lettuce. Inside the boat a fair bit of water had gone through the louvers of the doors (along with some of the dirt) so it was pretty messy. Damage was a broken solar panel which was mounted on the stanchions and a wrecked digital camera. The camera was in the chart table but the lid on the table flipped up and deposited the camera on the floor with the incoming water and dirt.

Also we needed to get some sewing done on the bimini and ... both the electric and windvane steerers suffered gear damage or at least, were driven so that gears no longer meshed. The result was that we had to handsteer for 6 days (2 on/2 off). The Monitor fix was pretty easy once I got instructions from them - and at a dock with a stable work platform. The electric pilot is quite old and already had some alignment issues - will work on this today. What made the hand steering harder was that most of the rest of the way NW we had light winds and were running or broad reaching. Should have put up the asymmetric but were just too tired to deal with it.

Hard to estimate the amount of the knockdown, perhaps 75 degrees or so - I would call it aa small knockdown rather than a big pooping.

I certainly don't feel that we were in any great danger at any time. The boat is very, very strong. Lessons we learned:
  1. Things like this can happen even you don't expect it. The weather forecasts topped out at 25 to 30 knots. We have noticed that forecasts here are often not accurate at all. This applies to GRIBs, weather faxes, you name it.
  2. Make sure you have harnesses on when conditions are snotty, in particular outside the cockpit; alhtough my wife had hers on as well
  3. Solar panels on the rail are vulnerable but they do work well here. Fortunately the only cheap thing we have found in French Polynesia are solar panels so it will not be too expensive.
  4. Hand steering for 6 days really sucks.

A few general comments. I never imagined the impact that Roaring 40s weather can have this far north. Our problems were caused by an occluded front stretching north from a depression in the 40s that was followed by a huge high (1035 mb) and we were at 21 degrees south. Tahiti is lovely but incredibly expensive. A can of beer in the supermarket is about $4 and a very modest restaurant meal will be $20+ not including a beverage.

We will be in French Polynesia (lots of beer from Panama still) until early July) before heading west. We have decided to head to Australia rather than New Zealand for cyclone season. The Admiral has decided that she does not want to go that far south and get hit again and apparently you will get hit going from Tonga to NZ, the only question is how often and how hard. We will go from Vanuatu to Bundaberg/Brisbane and stay north.
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Old 05-20-2011
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Killarney --

Thanks for that dispatch. Sounds like you had some excitement there! Sorry about the damaged equipment, but glad it wasn't worse and nobody was hurt.

Great to hear from you!! I remember when you were still tied up at the dock in NYC. You've come a long way, baby!

Looking forward to more reports, and here's hoping the beer doesn't run out too soon.

-John
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Old 05-20-2011
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Great write up Kill. Thanks. And here's to tethers!

Were the seas "bigger than they should have been" in your immediate area due to being on the edge of the storm? Which quadrant did the wave hit you on? Was it breaking?
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Old 05-20-2011
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My strange reaction to the knockdown

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Great write up Kill. Thanks. And here's to tethers!

Were the seas "bigger than they should have been" in your immediate area due to being on the edge of the storm? Which quadrant did the wave hit you on? Was it breaking?
I am not sure how large the seas should have been. They really were not too bad - perhaps 15 feet but well-spaced because the really strong winds had not been blowing all that long. The water surface was quite bizarre and fascinating-looking. Picture a giant sheet of Saran Wrap being stretched across the surface so that it was pretty smooth, except that the wind was tearing chunks of the surface away all round. We were hit on the port side a bit forward of amidships.

I am not the best one to describe what happened since I was tucked in along the side deck and very focussed on finishing the dinghy tie-down. My clearest reaction was that the water was very warm. I have talked to a few other people who have had similar experiences and they mention having similar odd reactions like 'Isn't that an interesting green colour" as the cockpit fills.

We helped the cockpit drains by bailing with one of the pots that had been our lettuce garden, only later did we realize we were bailing with a 'bucket' with four large drain holes in the bottom. Still seemed to work ok.
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Old 05-20-2011
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Glad everything worked out. I'm guessing that your dinghy lashing held.

It sounds like you experieced some heightened perception due to the alarming nature of the knock-down.

Enjoy the beer!

Regards,
Brad
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Old 05-20-2011
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Cool post...very "in vitro" aspect that gives alot of us a very welcome and enticing splash of salty pacific air...
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Old 05-20-2011
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being as you are there already there are 2 good pizza places on moorea both fanily run and quite reasonable both very good pizza.
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Old 05-21-2011
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Glad everyone is OK ! Amazing how well a bucket with a hole in it can work
I bet she was doung 30 MPH on that bucket ...
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Old 05-21-2011
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Flying dirt

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Originally Posted by HDChopper View Post
Glad everyone is OK ! Amazing how well a bucket with a hole in it can work
I bet she was doung 30 MPH on that bucket ...
The cockpit drains did fine but there is just something about having a cockpit full of water that is fundamentally worrying. It was remarkable how widely the pot full of dirt spread. Found some more this morning.
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Old 05-22-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
We will be in French Polynesia (lots of beer from Panama still) until early July) before heading west. We have decided to head to Australia rather than New Zealand for cyclone season. The Admiral has decided that she does not want to go that far south and get hit again and apparently you will get hit going from Tonga to NZ, the only question is how often and how hard. We will go from Vanuatu to Bundaberg/Brisbane and stay north.
Glad to hear you are coming this way!

I'd second the reports you've heard about Tonga to NZ - true enough, I'm afraid, although people do get through unscathed.

SimonV would be the one to ask about entry - and he's around Brisbane somewhere. I'd think you'd be best clearing into Brisbane, catching up on sleep and then heading to Mooloolaba, Bundaberg or further north. Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron at Wynnum/Manly, just south of the Brisbane River has all the facilities you could ever desire after arriving from OS. I'd suggest you head there for a spell..
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