I was on the upwind side sitting with my back against the cabintop on an Island Packet
380 cruising from Burnt Store to Indian Key. It was around 2AM and we were abeam Naples in some fairly steep seas that were running broadside and out of the east to west about 15 miles offshore
heading south. My sailing buddy was on his first offshore
trip and was unsure of his navigational skills. I was looking at Naples through a handheld Flir and a large wave hit us broadside and threw me off the bench and my rib
cage hit the step up leading to the companionway. It literally knocked the breath out of me and it took several long seconds for me to get some air. I heard something crack as I hit the step.
My sailing buddy was asleep on the downwind side and my crash woke him and he thought I was having a heart attack and was dying right in front of his eyes! I have a defibrillator and had a heart attack several years earlier, so it spooked him pretty bad. I broke two ribs and it was very painful. I moved to the salon
where I could get more comfortable. He is an Orthodontist and had a medical
kit that was really well equipped. He wanted to sedate me, but we were going to have to go south and then east to get below Romano shoals and he was an inexperienced navigator and I wanted my full faculties to get us safely to the anchorage at Indian Key. There are some pretty shallow areas in the Romano Shoals area and the last thing I wanted was to get us run aground in those swells. I took some Tylenol and just sucked it up and tried to stay as still as possible in the rolling seas and monitor
our position to round a buoy to port that I had placed a waypoint on well south of the shallows.
We made it to Indian Key around daybreak the next morning and I recovered some at the anchorage. We left at dusk for an overnight sail to meet our wives the next day in Key West
. We arrived in Key West
the next morning. After we were in Key West I thought the whole thing was really funny
as it scared the heck out of my sailing buddy! I was pretty sore during our time in Key West and on the return trip I used a large ace bandage to keep my rib
cage as immobile as possible. I felt every wave.
After it was all over, I thought it was pretty funny
although it did hurt me a lot. We were never in any danger
and my buddy gained some navigational training he will never forget. I have never let myself be exposed like that again. It is incredible how fast that wave came on at night and I was not holding on since I had to use both hands with the Flir. Things can change very quickly!