Found it, apologies for the length of this post
I had just got back from the Noumea race
, was unemployed (sacked from Lidgard Rudling), and wanted to get across to Oz to visit a certain young lady. I met this guy who had just bought a Pacific 38, his first boat, knew next to nothing. There was one other on board who had experience (ex crew from Buccaneer), so I offered to sail up and do the nav if he would fly me to Sydney
At the time I was sure I knew everything as I had done a few ocean passages by then ( I was 22).
First few days were OK then it went NE and got up to about 40-45 with higher gusts. The boat handled that no problems, no sail and we all went below to wait it out. A few hours later a wall of water
hit us and we were upside down and back up before you even had time to think about it.
As it happens a secondary front had gone over us with a ninety degree wind
shift and much higher wind
speed. As it was way more than I had seen at the time Iím reluctant to guess at wind speed but at the Cape they reported a max gust of 104kn, I would say we had consistent 70ís with gusts. The real problem was the effect the wind shift had on the sea state, two large wave sets at right angles throwing pyramids of water that would collapse under their own weight, Iím fairly sure it was one of these that hit us.
After we came up though I still hadnít clicked that conditions were much worse, so looking at the mess below I offered to go run off and steer while the others cleaned up. My first inkling of real trouble was when I pulled the hatch
back, the air going past sucked pressure out of the cabin
and my ears popped as in a plane.
I turned her downwind and this heavy old displacement
boat took off at about 17kn under bare poles, got to the trough and spun out into a ninety degree knockdown. That was pretty much the story for the next few hours. The rudder would let go when a breaking wave with 5-6 feet of foam got under her and the rudder had no bite. The air/sea interface was very indistinct and at times it felt almost as if we were sinking, with so much air in the water we were down almost to the toerail.
Anyway, after a while the other guy came on deck
, we had a quick parley and decided to slow her down. He tied a bucket to a line and tossed it over- it lasted 1.2 nanoseconds. After some trial and error we ended with the #2 genoa
and an anchor
and chain out the back and things improved considerably. Enough that after watching for maybe half an hour I went below (also the seas were adjusting to the new wind direction).
Down below was a sh!tfight. The stove/oven had jumped the gimbals when we were upside down and was banging around inside the boat. We threw it overboard
. The owner had been in a pilot berth, rolled across the overhead and fell on his back across the table as we righted, he was passing blood for a few days. The water was about knee deep and littered with eggs, flour, all sorts of unidentifiable stuff and my nav tables. Most had to be got rid of by hand as it was too thick for the bilge
By morning it had eased to about 35kn (seemed like a flat calm) and we very carefully started sailing back to Russell, arriving two days later.
The pri*ck never covered my airfare to Sydney
saying I hadnít got his boat to Fiji
. And he stole my favourite beanie.
I hitched to Auckland
, went to the bar at Akarana and got tanked.
Points of interest:
were never seen having been ripped from the deck
. I would never have faith in a raft stowed above deck.
A gimballed stove needs a pin so it wonít fall out if you are upside down.
took the pulpit and port lifelines
with it, making the return trip more difficult than it would have been otherwise.
Serious problem below with gear
flying around, this episode stood me in good stead as I encountered similar conditions some years later on the mighty Cav and suffered zero damage, I had learnt about stowing things below. If people ask me now what I do in bad weather the answer is go below and get in my bunk and itís not a joke. On deck is dangerous. Unless you have a full and skilful crew you must be able set your boat up to look after herself and get below.
On a lighter note later that evening I was getting hungry and remembered we had deep sixed the stove, had a look around and saw that the only food
that had survived that we could eat was some liquorice and cans of cold beans. We sh*t and farted our way to Russell.