Complete Helplessness

As a BCC owner and sailor, How many times have you felt completely helpless while out on the briny , like me ?

My first time was on a voyage from San Diego to the Marquesas,back in May 1999, about half way there, and 10 days out.

I was watching distant squalls on the radar, in the middle of the night.

One upcoming squall was quite big, so being in the Northern hemisphere, I decided to alter course to the port and pass it on the stb side.

The squall kept getting bigger, and my Easting wasn’t going to be enough to avoid it.

I reefed way down, but was still making around 5 knots, Easterly.

The Monitor vane was steering, it was raining heavily when the radar showed that I was entering the advancing Northern edge of it.

Oh, says me, we will just ride it out, at most only a half hour or so !

Yes, that idea proved way wrong !

Hour after hour Calliste was pounded, it seemed that the squall was attracted to Calliste’s mast, and wouldn’t let go.

It was just too dangerous to go out into the cockpit to try to heave too, as the cockpit was often swepped with green water.

I began to think the worst, that the rig was definately going break something and come down .

I got out the bolt/wire cutters and prayed while I awaited to go into action, from below.

Another half hour passed and the rig was still up, and another half hour passed, finally the wind and sea state seemed a little less, but that squall hung on.

I was beginning to see a little daylight glow in the east, through the port holes.

We were still sailing fast and surprisingly near to ,and on the course of south west.

Slowly that squall just wore itself out, and eventually disappeared aft, Phew !!!

That was the very first time I felt completely helpless onboard , just nothing could I do, but hold on and wait .

Douglas , BCC Calliste

I think most blue water sailors have been there!

My most recent event was on BCC “Salute” entering the Panama roads when an evident storm broke. With no sails up we were still making 5.0 kts SE just on our freeboard.

Unfortunately this is NOT a good place to be with three inbound and three outbound shipping channels all converging on one point,

Visibility was less than the length of our vessel, the wind was over 60 kts, and our only salvation was hearing either a horn or the sound of engines.

I was at the helm at this time, and my friend Jules spent his time wiping the water off the compass so that I could see that we were not in a danger zone.

Fortunately we managed to circumvent any obstacle, and the view of Panama Roads in the dawn was a sight to see.