"Little Wing" Takes A Big Knockdown

BCC Little Wing blog account of a knockdown in the Pacific


Wow. That was a pretty scary blog to read, I am very happy they are ok… sounded like one minute things were great and then as sometimes happens things turned ugly quickly… so to learn from what happened I am wondering what they could have done differently?

Should they have hove to? In their previous post before the event it sounded like they were cracking on past hull speed at over 11kts. At what point would one actually decide to hove to? Would being in a hove to situation stopped or minimized the likelyhood of this occuring?

Note - I am by no means trying to “Monday morning quarterback” or pass judgement on the decisions made. They are out there doing it and I hope some day to do that. However, I am not an expert (I am still just a coatal sailor) but I thought it would be interesting to discuss how best to approach a situation like this.

Hi KDreese , Gosh , you are very right in your query, Please do concern, yourself with details, that may concern you, during your voyage !

All of us know that it is hard to get actual at sea , experience , before we set off .

It took me eleven years to get ready to go, getting finances, and the boat ready to go, studying , everything , that I could get my hands on , so all of us out here, would not appreciate, if you arrived , un-prepared !!!

Pls , do your homework, well , that will get you , the rewards, you are after , Douglas

There is no point in attempting to analyse what occurred,it rather sounds as if this was a “freak” wave, which are not uncommon, even in calmer weather. The lessons to be learned are what to do AFTER you find yourself in serious trouble, and keeping your senses and dealing with situations becomes life critical.

I went through a similar experience in the South Atlantic in 1992, but fortunately I was single handing, so I didn’t have anyone else to worry about. At the time this happened to me, I was in about 50 knots of wind, with bare poles, using the boat’s freeboard to sail. I saw the wave coming, but I could not have turned into it, as I would have broached. This single wave came from a slightly different direction to the seas, and hit me broadside.

Retaining calm, which is extremely difficult to do when your adrenelin is running amok, is essential. It takes a little while to analise what damage has occurrred, and create a plan to deal with the most important items first. It is also exptremely difficult to make the decision to jettison stores, parts and equipment from the boat.

I do, however agree with Douglas, planning, self education and preparedness are critical to survival if you go ocean voyaging. Reading the blog, I get the impression that Craig and Kay had done all this, and had some considerable experience.

It’s therefore just one of those breaks Neptune hands out occassionally.