They say a bad day at sea is better than a good day at work. Right now I think Tim, Jack, and I would be happy to be back in our warm dry office. And yet experience tells me that when the wind moderates all will be forgotten and we’ll be telling the stories of our brave Gulf Adventure.
At dawn this morning we were surfing down waves that were created by the 45-50 kt winds that had built over night. It was exciting, but a bit dangerous, so after clocking a maximum speed of 18.2 Knots, I decided we should slow down and just wait out the weather. The way I’ve done this in the past is to sheet in the reefed main and the jib tight and then turn up close to the wind and just let the boat idle along. It works pretty well most of the time and we were sitting comfortably in the cockpit talking aboiut how long we would have to wait on the wind to subside when a huge wave raised up like the hand of God and collapsed right in through the side of the cockpit enclosure, leaving behind hundreds of gallons of water and a ripped enclosure. The cockpit door was opened and at least 200 gallons spilled in to the cabin before we were able to pull the door closed!
I was forced up against the side of the helm seat so hard that I bent the arm rest and Jack, who was standing beside me watching the waves, ended up on the other side of the cockpit. Tim was seated on the far side of the cockpit and got soaked along with Jack and I. Once the water had drained from the cockpit, Tim went below to assess the damage (no damage just a lot of water in the starboard hull which was pumped out) and Jack and I discussed options. Clearly my plan wasn’t going to work in this storm. We decided to drop the main, start the engines and slow reach toward our destination on jib alone. I’d never tried this on Double Wide, so I had no idea how it would work. It turns out to be a pretty good option and that’s what we’ve been doing all day and we’ll continue with this plan until dawn or when the wind subsides.
The wind charts show that the we should get some relief before dawn, but as of now (7:40), it’s still blowing 40-45 with periods of over 50 (though the 50’s are less common now. I also think the waves have moderated some, which is a relief. It’s so dark outside that you really can’t see anything, so We’re standing our watches using the iPad app for my new chart plotter so that we can watch the radar from the couch in the main saloon. Every 10-15 minutes, we peak out and see if we see any lights that are not showing up on radar. It’s pretty desolate in this part of the Gulf, so there’s not much chance of running across anything.
Thhis is my 8th crossing of the Gulf and I thought I’d seen her at her worst, but today has been the roughest that I’ve seen. It’s gratifying to know that vessel and crew were up to the task and we’ll end our journey in a couple of days with some great memories of adventure and comradeship.This is what life is all about!
At 7:45 our position is: