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Old 03-11-2010, 16:28   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Burlington Canada
Boat: Lagoon 440
Posts: 29
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Spatial Disorientation

We were sailing my buddies Oceanis 461 from NY to Bermuda. Moved it through the NY canal system in one week from Welland Ontario. All things were good and we set off with my brother who met us in Manhatten. Love that place! Three experienced sailors and a great yacht! New sails from North including this bad ass AS with a sock! What could be better! We flew that baby for a day or so and then the wind changed. We had a weather router (no names) and preset waypoints to get through the gulf and route us to Bermuda. Predicted 15-20 0n the beam for the whole trip. Well, the predicted weather was not even close. We ended up in big winds and big seas! Bam, 30 knots plus for three days, topped out at 40 in the night!!! It was the end of June so you get what you get! Lucky for us it was mostly aft of 90 degrees. The yacht was amazing and sailed beautifully! On occasion we had to slow her down she was so fast and getting ahead of the waves. The only problem was the second night. It was about three or so in the morning, very dark, couldn’t see anything but the face from the red light of the compass shinning on my buddy driving. I was hunkered down in the cockpit, brother off watch below and buddy driving for an hour or so. Dark, windy, blasted by waves, they really do come at you sideways sometimes! The only other light was the occasional reflection from the bow during waves! We would try to keep the boat sailing within 15 degrees either side of heading then “Bam” gybe ho!!!! The helmsman became disoriented; gybed, and was heading up into the wind after to correct the trouble! Jib wrong, main wrong, all the pressure on the rig wrong in 30 plus knots! I was in darkness not looking at anything thankfully, just feeling the rhythm, movement of the boat, felt the gybe, and had to tell him to turn the helm the other way. He was totally disoriented. Wasn’t sure of my instruction but responded! I am a private pilot and learned about this in flight training but never experienced it till this time on a boat. It is so true, can happen to anyone if you stare at an instrument of some kind for long periods. We got back on course no trouble but man! ! Wow! Sure gets the adrenalin going! Didn’t need the coffee for a bit. The helmsman didn’t even swear once. He just said “Geez Louise” several times. I don’t know what Louise did to him but I wish I met her! Sounds exciting!
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