_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Heavy Weather for Marcy

We spent the afternoon and evening of the fourth day on passage to New Caledonia preparing for a gale the weather charts have been warning us about for a couple of days. We tied in the third reef in the main (used only once before) and set the staysail. We double lashed everything on deck - the deflated dinghy, the water generator propeller and towline, outboard fuel tanks, and the rolled up awning. When we finished all this, we sat back to admire our work. We felt a little foolish jogging along
severely undercanvassed, but an ominous black wall of clouds, with lightening flickering constantly, approached us with unnerving speed. The first gust knocked us over on our beam ends, but Marcy stood back up and we forged on into the blackness. The night was gorgeous - flashes of lightening showed us angry clouds and foam blowing in streaks off the wave tops. We gradually got used to constant noise of thundering waves, shrieking rigging, and groaning boat noises. It became evident that we were
now quite overcanvassed, so we fought down the main and tied it tightly. We took turns sitting in the cockpit and lying in the bunk. The motion was amazing, the seas weren't huge but very chaotic. It seemed as if Marcy had no freeboard, because foamy seas were constantly at rail level and higher, all around the boat. We watched the barometer plunge hour after hour all night. The morning brought no relief, just a view of the growing seas and horizontal torrential rain. The boat was doing well. Tons
of water came on deck, but not a drop through our new ports. The sliding hatches, closed and dogged, let plenty in to keep us humble. One of the lazy jacks carried away and tangled in a spreader. Otherwise we were coping perfectly, running the bilge pump every hour and mopping up drips and spills.

We try to avoid this kind of weather. The passage to and from New Zealand is notorious for exposing cautious sailors to gales, in fact we met a smaller one as we approached the island. We left NZ on the heels of a passing low in an effort to get the maximum time before the next one. If the next low had been smaller or further south, no problem. We weren't lucky, but there is feeling of accomplishment for dealing with the situation, keeping morale up and staying safe. As we write this at noon on day
five, the barometer is on the rise and we can expect better conditions soon. The seas are much bigger now, but more regular, and we see longer stretches of sunshine in between the rain.

We should arrive in Noumea on Monday or Tuesday, we can almost taste that wonderful French pastry now.



At 2:26 PM, Blogger S/V Cape St. James said...

Sounds like you had quit the ride. Hang in there. Smooth sailing ahead I'm sure.


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