After sending off the post last night, the sea state became even more contumacious. For the first time in 6000 hours of cruising with Wind Horse we found it advantageous to slow down – a lot – from 1800 rpm to 1500 and a boat speed of eight knots or less.
Although the wind never blew that hard – the most we saw in squalls was 45, with occasional steady periods of 40 knots – it must have been blowing harder prior to our arrival to raise such a large sea.
On occasion we’d have a crest of easily six feet / two meters over the bow and above the stern. Very good stuff for keeping a designer’s parameters fixed in a proper sea-going context.
What made things interesting was bow quarter waves (each side) along with the head seas, so the occasional pitch was enhanced with a quick, albeit limited, transverse heel.
Every design detail oriented towards keeping us comfortable and safe was in use. Handrails, fiddle rails, furniture placement, companionway design including width, the galley layout, were all doing their part.
And when the bow would drop ten feet/three meters into a trough we were very pleased to have such high structural factors of safety.
You might be tempted to think that modern weather forecasting, especially coastal, will enable you to avoid such situations. Yet these lovely test conditions were far more vigorous than what had been forecast (it would be interesting to look for buoy data at Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina to see wave and wind there. At 0100 on December eighth we were eighteen miles from the edge of the shoals.)
Which brings us to this morning, with a rising barometer, a moderated sea, and clear sky. We will soon have the air conditioning on as the Gulf Stream, now at 81F/27C, is banishing winter blues. We are back up to cruise, eleven knots, 1850 RPM, motion is minimal, life is good.
Wind Horse is content, her little Deeres are purring away, she has a dry interior, and her crew is in reduced wardrobe mode.
A final thought on tradeoffs. We are continually faced with opposing demands of comfort and safety at sea, and interior volume when anchored. What we know from long experience, our own and that of our clients, is that as rare as conditions like last night are, they are what you remember. You either have confidence in knowing your vessel can deal with them, or you start to get the “what ifs”. It is the latter that makes marinas so hard to leave, and the former which gives you the ability to say “let’s get on with it” and go when others are waiting for the ever illusory perfect weather window.
OK, enough from us. There are many highly experienced cruisers and professional seamen amongst SetSailors. What are your thoughts on this subject?