Sur­viv­ing a storm

Yachting Monthly - - THE KNOWLEDGE - Brian Black

Like most cruis­ing sailors I’ve had my share of heavy weather but one event stands out above the oth­ers. We were half­way be­tween Ice­land and Scot­land. The North­ern Lights were on dis­play, the boat was sail­ing nicely on a broad reach. Dawn came and the sky be­gan to cloud over. I looked at the barom­e­ter; it was fall­ing. I tapped it and it fell fur­ther – this was not go­ing to be good. By night­fall we were rid­ing out a Force 11. At one point

I was thrown across the cock­pit land­ing on my ribs, and to judge by the pain, some­thing had been bro­ken. Later, with the storm boards in place, some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened when I got flung across the sa­loon. All the while I could feel the boat ris­ing with the seas, the keel los­ing its grip in the break­ing wa­ter on the crests, then the stom­achchurn­ing slide down the wave and into the next one. Look­ing back on this sur­vival storm, I reckon it was the boat that saved us rather than seamanship. My best guess is that with all sails furled and the wheel lashed alee the boat lay at an an­gle to the ap­proach­ing waves, cre­at­ing a slick, which ab­sorbed some of their en­ergy. The les­son here? The boat can take a lot more than you can but she’ll need some help.

Some­times it’s the boat, not your seamanship, that weathers the storm

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