FROM 1-5. Mid Pacific to Heading South

Feb 15, 2005 - 1317hrs UTC

1317hrs 15 Feb 2005 UTC 46’29”S 133’29”W Map Ref 65 3622nm

Reflections on a month at sea part 2:

The big event was the roll so lets talk about that. After about a week from Hobart we passed the bottom of NZ between Stewart Island and the Snares we then had bad winds and seas for the next 2 days. the wind wouldn’t settle going from 15 -50 kts with big following seas. we had done many sail changes finally settling on poled out #5 and storm jib on the 2 forestays. this worked well with rain squalls about every half hour gusting to 50 and sometimes 60kts. at night we ran under bare poles at 4.5 -5.5kts with the self steering handling this ok. next day with wind and seas increasing we ran under poled out storm jib doing 6-8 kts. during the day the jib halyard shackle let go and we sent it up the mast and the self steering lines broke twice due to chafe caused by slight misalignment and the huge tension put on them by the following seas. we settled down for the night under bare poles. when off watch, sleep was hard to get due to the violent motion. alex was sleeping on the floor to lessen the movement.

Next morning the skies had cleared the wind had settled to a steady 35-40kts the seas still big we decided to set the storm jib on the inner forestay and head east again Alex was at the mast having just set the jib i was in the cockpit adjusting the sheet the boat was self steering, both harnessed to the boat, all openings sealed I was watching the big seas coming through. I was watching this really big one come up to us, the boat lifted to it and it slid away from us. I casually looked behind there was a big void where the back of the wave should have been. immediately behind was another wave it had been slowed down by the one in front and was now sucking back and hollowed out. i yelled to alex to hold on he was sitting on the coachroof at the shrouds he later said that he looked up when i called and saw the wave just about to break above the first set of spreaders the sun was shining through it and it had that eerie ice blue colour.

Meanwhile in the cockpit i was glad i’d recently changed into my brown corduroy trousers. i knew we would be hit and i tried to disengage the self steering. i felt the boat start to roll so i crossed my legs around the base of the tiller and held on to the top. this was completely instinctive i have often thought that if a really big one came into the cockpit you would be thrown onto the winches. the roll was gentle the wave didn’t hit me i just rode the tiller through the inversion. while under water having expected havoc it was all quiet and gentle I thought well that wasn’t too bad I think i had a smile on my face then we were back upright in a bathtub full to the cockpit coaming. the whole event from sighting trouble to back upright was perhaps 30 seconds its very hard to tell. time becomes very elastic. alex had been thrown overboard in the initial tip, holding on to the shrouds. he remembers being violently tossed around in white water but not for long. he was dragged back to the boat still holding on and his chest hitting a stanchion and bending it badly. he managed to scramble back on board. I got up from the cockpit and saw alex standing by the shrouds he asked if i was ok and returned to the cockpit still full of water but down to the seats. it was then he told me he thought he may have broken some ribs. pert 3 to follow. Cheers Pete.

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