I got caught in the dangerous semi-circle of a hurricane
which had just turned from a tropical storm. Had been monitoring the weather
yet couldn't avoid the bad position due to a lee shore off to starboard. What a ride!
After clawing down the double reefed main (early) and then the small poled-out jib
I was worried that with no sails
up the boat would really roll. Wrong! To get back to the cockpit
in a hurry I lashed the pole to the headstay rather than attempt to stow it. The wind resistance of the pole and rigging
alone made the boat stop rolling alltogether and stand straight up! Had 67 kts windspeed over the boat and the knotmeter
showed 10-12 knots through the water
First day was very dark and I had to use the decklights to see what I was doing on deck
(and get the hell back to the cockpit). Busy, busy, busy helps keep fear at bay so that you can function. Adrenalin totaly squelches sea-sickness yet you wonder just how much of the stuff your body can keep making before running out and what then?
I have good power in the autopilot
and a compass
sensor which detects compass
magnet instad of weak earth field directly and could take a huge roll without fooling the heading as a result. Before taking down the jib
I tried to steer and could not hold a course due to the lack of a horizon and all the huge wave action. Kept the autopilot
on after that all the time which did a great job. The scariest waves were the ones which came at different angles along the face of the huge breaking waves behind. Pure luck seemed to keep the boat safe. I could hear (couldn't bear to look behind for fear of fear that might create the deer-in-the-headlights syndrome freezing one into inaction) the breakers coming behind and then water
and foam would cover the entire boat leaving the center cockpit
the only thing above it. At that time the boat would seem to just hold position and then slowly stagger back higher in the water as the decks began to clear.
Finally the center began to move away allowing us to veer out of the bad position away and away. We knew that everything would be O.K. when we no longer had to shout to be heard right next to each other and had to raise a sail again to keep from rolling. Pure pucker power! Glad the boat was better than me and that I had put in such a good autopilot.