Hunkered Down In Hell Aboard A Well- Built Boat
The night gyrated in bright strobe as lightning shattered the blackness, flashing white cracks into hell. Rain began tentatively as large, heavy drops, but that quickly changed. “Well, at least we can see the lights on the shore!” I yelled. “It’s not a whiteout.” I wished I hadn’t said that to my wife, Mel. Almost immediately, a roaring waterfall engulfed Chez Nous, our 53-foot motorsailer. It seemed to be solid water, with nothing visible anywhere except within the interior of the boat. We couldn’t even see our decks. I couldn’t describe the sound — or the feeling. Our ears started to pop. And then came the train.
“It’s a tornado!” Mel yelled. The boat began to lurch, veer and — from what we could feel — spin. The wheel’s spokes blurred as it turned, responding to the rudder as the boat swung.
As she heeled far over to port, we dove down the companionway, and I tried to capture the wildly sliding crib boards. As I put them in, hanging on as we went farther and farther over, the snaps holding down parts of the enclosure to the cockpit sides started popping open. Then the door flap exploded out at its lower half. This was pressure equalization. The enclosure had been billowing out like a balloon.
We’d already prepared. Within reach were our offshore life jackets,