this is my experience, worst seas so far.
Day 4 - that is when fun started !
Beautiful morning, glassy water
and clear skies until cloud line from south starting to get closer. And one could see very thick clouds and beautiful massive cloud formations. I was thinking - this looks like more than what weather forecast
said - up to 25 kn.
We packed up everything and moment arrived when clouds came over us. And we were greeted by up to 60 kn gusts and near freezing temperatures and rain.
In 1/2 hour seas raised quite a bit and I started thinking plan B. Then luckily settled down to around 20 kn. We raised second reef and enjoyed beautiful sail around 7 kn thinking that was it. Then in 1 hour 8 kn, then in next hour 9 kn, then in next 10 kn ! This was too much for our leisurely comfort. Decided to take down mainsail
. This turned out to be an error. We have used new downhaul line to take sail down downwind from cockpit- worth the gold. Force of wind was actually too much to pull it by hand as battens glue to spreaders and just dont budge. Used winch
to downhaul. For the moment thought to leave third reef as then could still take it all down but, skipped that step. And used only triple reefed jib
continue to deteriorate, seas building. And unfortunately wind moved forward so jib
could not handle situation and had to turn engine
on If third reef could continue to sail and enjoy more comfort ad sail gives stability. Once sail down, cant take it back as seas too large.
We were forced to motorsail next 48 hours. Seas were building and kind of stopped at 5m. There were some scary much larger waves. We had waves on beam. I was very nervous looking how our boat gone over these monsters. And big one come in pairs or in triplets. First looks big and then after it crossed second bigger behind, and sometimes third even bigger... Was not worried about boat flipping but about violent impact of these waves on boat and us. Could not sleep and for some time hand steered. It is not easy, especially if one has to do it for several days. And when no moon, one just guesses when that sound of large wave coming closer. It is interesting that large waves come from very different directions, like 90 deg from where majority travels.
In these waves our boat has not failed once - no flying glasses or water in cockpit
although beam reaching in near storm conditions (largest seas ever for us). Observing action, contribute this behaviour to 3 things - 1 autopilot
has to be on high sensitivity setting. When big ones come in a group there is no time to lose direction, not even for part of a second. It has to maintain perfect direction else dangerous next one can get you on a side. At high speeds this is in my opinion most important. My sensitivity had to push to 7, normally 3. What if AP fails in these conditions , we both got scared of this thought.
2. Boat shape - wide hulls and third small middle hull allow boat to swing thru the top of large steep wave without any effort. This was most hairy to look unfolding. And after intense continuous 48h watch of this action, I was able to sleep for an hour in the end so i guess trust boat bit more.
3. And last, one has to keep speed up. Fast enough, one escapes full force of group of waves. So, I am not convinced any more drogue
is a good idea.
I have also tested drive downwind and it appears one can nicely pass/neutralize large wave by turning 60 degrees from direction of wave travel.
Simpy, to get away without damage, one needs luck as well. Preparation can do only that much.
Finally on day 5 in the morning seas abated so we could pull up sails. We had very nice beam reach sail from 8 to 10 kn in 3-4 m waves. This enabled us to arrive in Bundaberg in the evening and now safely anchored in the river.
Wow, what a passage
!!! Gained lots of experience and insight.
We tired a bit and we had no seasickness. And we still like traveling world with the boat.