Hun­kered Down In Hell Aboard A Well- Built Boat

Soundings - - Sea Savvy -

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,

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