Getting caught off Hatteras in a rapidly developing storm that appeared unexpectedly. Within an hour the wind went from 15 knots SSE to 35+NE.
Being out in the Gulfstream in 35 knts + NE meant I had classic wind over tide sea conditions and with it forecast to strengthen and my autopilot unable to cope I had to turn and run for an inlet. 18 very scary hours, hand steering all the way in very large and very confused seas. The wind did increase for about two hours and I was surfing down waves and struggling for control almost continually. If I could I would have tried trailing something to try and slow down but it was not an option as I felt I had to avoid a broach at all costs. I was fortunate that I just acquired a GPS and was able to hit the seabuoy marking the inlet on the dot and followed a local fishing boat in.
My boat was a tough steel 38ft ketch with a large center cockpit. I had several near knockdowns but never had the spreaders in the water. However I felt that getting rolled over was very possible. I had many breaking waves hit the boat sometimes half filling the cockpit. It was the only time I have ever needed to be clipped on in the cockpit.
I have been in winds of similar strength before and had enough sea room to heave to and wait it out. I tried heaving to briefly and had a near knockdown almost immediately. With conditions forecast to get worse I felt forced to run for shelter which was something I had always said I would never do as it is almost always safer to be out in deeper water away from shore.
Once I got the hook down the boat got a little pat before I turned in.
Broke an upper shroud during a spinnaker knockdown. Mast stayed up! (Pearson 26OD).
2nd worst - piled onto a mud bank full speed, heeled over with the spinnaker up (buddy was driving).
Wait - I'm starting to see a common thread here.
On a 29 ft enginelss sailboat, we (two others and myself) were caught in the Gulf of Mexico on the south side of the "Blizzard of 96" storm for 5 days. The two others ran out of cigarettes which did not help the serenity. Food ran out enough to just get one bowl of rice each day per man for those 5 days. Not only did we have to deal with that, we had to jury rig a mast out of the boom after a demasting during the event. Educational to say the least.
Motoring onto an oyster bed I should have been aware of had I paid closer attention to the chart...
Recently, I had the privilege of sucking up a jellyfish through the raw water intake which completely blocked all raw water into the engine...and it was quite some time before I realized this was due to a blockage and not some type of mechanical malfunction...
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