We have had some unpleasant things happen at sea, but there are two which still stand out for me.
One, after leaving Bay of Islands, NZ, for Fiji
, about 3 days out, we both came down with the Victoria A flu, to which we must have been exposed while provisioning
. High fever, nausea and diarrhea, and I was so weak that I had to rest on the setee between my berth and the toilet. Jim, too was too sick. We were unable to keep watch. We hove to, turned on the anchor
light, and for two days NO ONE kept watch--we were unable to. To me, that was the scariest one.
Two, we were caught in a deepening cut off low between Australia
and Lord Howe Is. This storm was not predicted by the source we were using. (Now one can easily check various models.) We had winds sustained in the high 40's, and two sets of swells running, with waves with breaking tops, but not too huge. Sailing was tiring, and quite lumpy, the windvane
was coping. Not long after I came on watch, we were rolled down by the waves. I was standing in the companionway
at the time, below, facing aft, so I did not see whether the spreaders were in the water
, but water
did start coming in through the dorade placed 18" from the mast
, and slightly aft of it. The damage that was done was to break the windvane rudder
, and blow out the starboard side dodger
windows. Jim saved the stove-in perspex, and made the decision to return to Australia
(Brisbane), put the boat hard on the wind
on port tack, and headed west, and next morning used duct tape on the perspex and renewed our weather
After two days of beating, using an electric autopilot
, we received a weather
report from friends on land, that the winds were due to ameliorate in 12 hrs. We hove to, to rest, and proceed in under gentler conditions. We were about 65 n. mi. SE of Cape Moreton. We had a hot meal, and planned to each take a nap. I had been asleep when there was a loud KA BANG! Jim immediately went above-decks, and I suited up, hit the switch for the deck
light, futilely, as it happened, for the mast
was in the water, making a squeaky, sort of grindy noise
against the hull
. Jim decided to ditch the rig.
The boom was resting on the port lifelines
, and the main sheet and the stays'l sheet were holding it, and all the wires were on, except the clevis pin from the starboard lower was rolling on deck
between the chainplate and the toe rail.
Jim did not cut the wire, he removed the pins, then we cut the lines, and the furler
, mast (with its winches and antennas and all the running rigging) and boom went into the sea.
We huddled in the cockpit
, letting it sink for a lot longer than perhaps we needed to, then did another tour to be sure there were no lines over the side, started the motor
, and began the long motor
in to the Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club. The next morning, Jim rigged a jury rig antenna
so we could have our shoreside friends notify Customs
what we were doing, and eventually made it into Moreton Bay just on dusk. Friends (who had nav lights--our tricolor was at the bottom of the Tasman) escorted us. It was at the time EXTREMELY important to me that we had made it in safely without requiring assistance. They wanted so much to help.
After the event, I felt quite shaken in my confidence. But, although it was upsetting, it wasn't nearly so scary to me as the helpless feeling when both of us were too sick to do anything.
If I could, I'd copyright
the story. I beg any budding authors to please not use this one in your work. Thank you.