..on volvo60 racer
, Bermuda-Halifax delivery
Exhilarating experience, confirming what I already new in my heart: I want to sail the oceans (after some 40+ in the fresh waters).
I did some inquiries (here & there) what to check & what to ask before boarding, and if I paid heed to all the advise I got, I should have bought myself an airfare ticket back home from Bermuda
But what one can do living it for months, gearing up, making all the arrangements (last will included
) ?, sitting on a beach watching the boat
sailing away?; some of the shortcomings become apparent when on the way.
So I boarded, crew of 15, half of it had zero to cursory sailing experience.
(28) was skippering 1st time in his life (sic), learned that somewhere 400NM into the trip, the 'experienced' part of the crew sailed now and then; 10 got sick the first day, some stayed that way for 2 days and nights, I had my hot bunk to myself for 2 nights.
although impressive in performance and looks was 'tired' (was in Caribbean
since Nov 2016 taking part in three different ocean races.
Frayed lines, railings lashings I didn't trust, TuffLuff System on a headstay - one groove broken (the other one to fail later), True and Apparent Wind
displays broken; when I was to take helm
at broad reach with 25+kn I said 'wait a sec' and I attached telltales to the shrouds (it's hard to watch weather
vane at the top of 100" mast), as: 'I watch the flag at the stern', by the 1st mate didn't convince me.
My 'exploits' at the helm
got attention of the skipper
and I was one of only two (besides him) to steer the boat that day, average 16kn with the ~25 down the waves. At some point we lost
the one wheel
I was at, but luckily it was at the moment when I was changing the skipper at the helm so he took over, but not knowing that they are independent I imagined for a moment boat doing 180 in a jiffy with bodies flying into the ocean..
Took a couple of hrs to fix, I was happy it happened, at least one steering
was reliable now.
I almost never sailed when dark, and was wondering how they are going to manage in the night without really knowing the changes of the wind
, and thought it may become a 'hairy' ride in the dark (full main and #2 jib), but trusting the skipper (that seemed to be competent operator) I hit the bunk at
end of the watch.
A very noisy ruckus woke me up, blocks banging on the deck
, shouting, commotion, and eventually boat bobbing on what was then about 6-8' waves.
Got different accounts of what transpired, depending on the source, a compilation points to the skipper deciding to reef and somewhere at turning into the wind the jib
zipped out of the luff groove and now it was flying high above the deck
, eventually ending in the water
, prompting shutting off the engine
. After containing the situation we motor
for the rest of the night.
At the first night watch I noticed that we are swapping the life jackets (self-inflating), went to forecastle where we stored our follies, boots and where lines l.jackets and tethers resided and started the count that results of were disturbing.
I couldn't find 15 l.jackets!
Looked like we had 8 self-inflating ones and some offshore
I asked the skipper if we have 15 of them, 'we're one short' he says, 'I won't wear one'. I couldn't believe my ears!!
We were briefed on safety
, which was bordering on farcical, don't even want to go there, didn't do any on water
drills, no designation who takes the command when captain
becomes incapacitated, no posts designation when in emergency
, no life raft launching explanation (had to inquire individually),
not practicing basic under the sails
maneuvers, mind that half or more of the crew had no or little sailing experience.
All of it lead to mistakes
, confusion and stress.
Shall I add that I noticed that one of spinnaker
booms (huge poles attached on port and starboard) is not tethered on one end, mentioned it to one of the 'crew proper member' 'yea, yea, will fix it, no big deal'. So it was fixed after it jumped out of its moorings when we hit a bigger wave, shall I mention that at the ceiling of the cabin
there were two shorter ones attached by the straps and one of them was inching away and was about to fall down (on someone's head
, most likely).
My buddy got a nasty cut to his finger misinstructed on how to release one of the backstays
I won't continue, although the list is not exhausted...
Moored to the docks in Lunenberg on the 5th day, although not without a mishap, at the last moment the skipper's cry: 'don't have the reverse', made us all rush to the port side to arrest the movement of the vessel
So I asked the skipper when we're drinking champagne '... with 70% unskilled crew, 66% of them sick for some time, you must be very brave...'
he ended: '..or stupid'. But have to give to him, he was cool and collected when it got hairy..
On top of it 80% of the crew spoke mostly French, some with limited English
We may conclude with: 'All's Well That Ends Well', all are happy or appear so, social media is buzzing with excited posts, photographs and video clips...
But eight of us eating breakfast at the airport
before flying to our homes shared uneasiness about some aspects of our trip that was going more or less along the lines above.
I was delegated to put it in writing and with consent of all there, forward it to the skipper, so he's aware and may benefit from the feedback and to the safety
of the future expeditions.
Asked him for his private email
four days ago, no response...
As for me it was a heck of experience, learned quite a bit (I think much more then if all went smoothly), tested my sealegs (didn't get sick) showed me that my old lake sailing know-how is not irrelevant off shore and made me thinking about earlier retirement