Weather, what bad weather?

This evening we finally are getting some relief from the weather. The wind has moderated to 18-25 Kts and the seas are down to around 8-9 feet. Whew! As we were sitting in the cockpit this evening having queso flameado and lemonaide it was obvious that everyone’s mood had improved with the weather. In fact, we’re quickly forgetting how miserable we were yesterday, last night, and this morning – and that’s fine with me, but Tim asks that I document some of the “disasters” that befel us last night, so here goes:

Just after dinner the Auto Pilot quit working. Since this is a new navigation system I spent an hour or so checking settings, NMEA connectivities, etc. Everything looked good, so I assumed it had to be mechanical. To get to the mechanical part of the AP, I had to remove the bedding in the master suite and lift a couple of hatches. I quickly discovered that the nut connecting the AP to the rudder arm had come loose. I’m going to have to speak with the installer about that (he says pointing at himself).

While I was working on the AP, we got “pooped” again. This time Tim was at the helm and the water knocked him out of the seat and he landed on the other side of the cockpit. Luckily this time the cabin hatch was closed, so at least we didn’t get much water in the cabin. Jack was sitting in the starboard seat, so he didn’t get washed anywhere, but he did get drenched. Within an hour, we got pooped one more time, again, socking Tim further. This 3rd wave of water completely wrecked what was left of the cockpit enclosure. Jack jumped in and gathered all the pieces and we pulled them down below, so at least we didn’t lose anything.

Without the cockpit enclosure, the cockpit is really cold, so this morning Jack, Tim, and I were able to cobble it back together and get the area fairly well protected. As we were congratulating ourselves on a job well done, the jib halyard broke and I had to scramble up on the bow and pull it down and tie it off to keep it from flogging to death. We’re now sailing on a double reefed main and averaging about 6 knots.

A couple of comments related to our experiences so far:

1. I have heard stories of getting “Pooped” or swamped from waves crashing into the cockpit. I honestly didn’t think it was possible to get pooped on a catamaran like Double Wide. What I learned yesterday was a 17 foot wave (actually 25-30 feet on the front side) can, in certain conditions can build up and have a rather straight front side. If you happen to be sailing past the front of that wave when it crashes down, you’re going to get pooped!

2. The force of thousands of gallons of water crashing on the deck and cockpit is amazing. I had a small anchor mounted on a stanchion and one of those waves bent the stanchion 30 degrees and ripped the anchor off the mount.

3. It’s probably not a good idea to have a small electric heater in the cockpit if there’s a chance you could get pooped. In our first experience, our heater was doing a wonderful job heating the cockpit up for us. When the wave came crashing through, filling up the cockpit, Tim and the heater went swimming together. I’m greatful that the fault protection wiring on the boat works properly.

4. The worst of storms can be endured with good friends and a willing crew. I think there might be a life lesson in there some where.

Our coordinates at 6:30 PM:

26.32 North
85.49 West