Seaworthy: Hell is cold and wet, part II

This is the second installment of passages from my log of a North Atlantic Ocean crossing I undertook at the tender age of 24.

We left Fort Lauderdale with eight men, four of whom while in Bermuda, decided not to continue the journey.

The trip was a delivery of a 68-foot sailing ketch named Kopiana. We started in Fort Lauderdale on April 4, 1993 with the final destination of Barcelona Spain as our finish line.

I had forgotten about a story that did not make the log due to paranoid beliefs by the (then) captain that the insurance company would void our policy. The story concerns our overnight stay in Rock Key, Bahamas. We were on the hook in an anchorage and had admittedly not cleared customs/ immigration. But we had not set a single foot on land either. (Hair splitting I know.) Anyway about dusk here comes a small open boat with four men in civilian clothes. We had seen them approaching from afar and had prepared. Willie stood on the aft deck with the fire axe. I was on the foredeck with two flair pistols and the rest of the crew was spread about with whatever makeshift weapons came to hand. When the four men came alongside the (then) captain hailed them and asked about heir intentions. The response form the men was that they were Bahamian Customs officials and that they would board us for inspection. The (then) captain’s response was that if they came back in daylight with a marked vessel and showed proper ID they would be welcomed aboard. A long silence ensued while the four men eyed the yacht and weighed their odds. They gave a quick wave and we never saw them again. That was one long night on watch.

01/05/93 ST. GEORGE

Spent three hours trying to find two #12X1/2 machine screws for the roller main, no way, started asking boats, found some.

Willi is writing post cards. I must do the same. Laundry is all done, even folded. Drank like 50 Indians last night. Bass ale, good stuff.

If you go to Bermuda bring a camera and a million dollars.

Installed new sheave pin and dialed in steering, installed new coupler bolts and aligned engine. Pulled access hatches and plugs, did a visual fluids level inspection. Busy morning for a hang over. Wicked Taco Bell craving, took a bus to Hamilton to provision.

05/05/93 se@5 2-3 0830

Time to recap. Cleared customs and slipped lines 1300 02/05/93, left post cards in the care of a waitress. Hope everyone gets theirs.

First day uneventful e@10 2-4. Organized schedule four hours on, four off. Cook every other day on off-time.

3/05/93 e@25-30 8-10

Sailed north just to sail.

4/05/93sse@20 8-10

Finally sailing the course. Got pushed pretty far north and west, nothing major. Doing 140 miles today.

4/05/93

Everything was fine, doing 7 knots. Then at 2200 it all died, damn. Had to fire up the blue beast. That bloody Perkins has a (expletive) Air Research turbo charger that screams high c any time over 1100 rpm’s. There is no escape from the resonant frequency. I am listening to it now as the wind has not yet returned.

I had a local ask me if we had arrived via the triangle. Funny it never crossed my mind.

Another day and I will add 14 degrees to my bearing. By then we should be in the area of 37 N lat, and able to use the favorable wind and current that both run east.

10/05/93

Hello again. May 6 through May 8 wind was s.s.w.@10-15. Flat, calm seas. Running down hill at 7-9.

Made a pizza from scratch. It came out really good. People say anything on a boat tastes good. B.S. They never had Willi’s spatzle and cabbage stir fried in bacon grease.

My arch enemy, Mr. Sea Sick Ness, has yet to show his ugly face. Found a spare drive pulley for the water maker. Installed it, changed the filters. 100 percent better, now making 25 g.p.h.

Repaired cockpit VHF, repaired stereo, swung autopilot compass for mag variance.

May 9

Wind in our face, still making 9 knots hard stbd tack (225 miles yesterday). The rolling genoa, when reefed, has its clew so high up the forestay that although it is making lots of power, it is also laying the boat over severely. It makes for slippage and difficult trimming.

May 10

Passed s.v. Nordkap and s.v. Lady Christine, who both left Bermuda a day before us. We were hauling an SS @ 10 to 11 knots. S.S.B. says big storm, and I believe it. Winds are already up to 30 and seas 15 and growing. Am wearing a harness whenever on deck. Called Nordcap and LC on VHF and bet a round of drinks. Racing to Fiale AZORES Horta.

Position as of 1210h 3855n x 4321w

12/05/93 sw 15 seas 15-18

Two days of hell, one minute we were whale watching, the next the barometer drops to 992.

Wind clocks to the east at 40 plus with 50 to 60 knot gusts breaking waves of 25 to 30 easy, totally insane, terrifying.

Now you’re on top of the world looking down this cliff of water. Then, all 68 feet of boat plunges down that cliff, black thundering walls of water surrounding you. Then it got worse.

Maintained radio contact with Nordkap and LC. LC lost steering and went emergency tiller. Nordcap (a 102’ steel square rig ketch) blew up every sail on the boat. We blew the port genoa sheet and smoked the leech and clew as a result. Went to bare poles last night around 1200 when the port fwd porthole blew in, taking on water in a large way, ripped the door off the spice locker, wrapped a towel around it, and wedged it in place with a dinghy oar, drove it home with a large hammer. Every hatch and porthole leaks, every bunk is soaked, all my clothes are dry.

This morning we put out two sea anchors, two milk crates and a bucket, grabbed the first sleep in fifty odd hours.

Woke up at 1100. Wind was back to sw at 15. Seas were rolling at 20 not breaking at 30. Let’s go!

Doing 7.5 with reefed main. Could put on spare sheets genoa but I want to see the leech in daylight.

Didn’t hear much on the side band for weather. Some Mexican was stepping all over the transmission as usual. Barometer back to 1,000.

13/05/93 39.21n x 043.49w ne@25-30 seas 10-15 breaking.

Good day. Sailing barometer 1040. Hauling ass down hill 10-12 knots. Sail taped the leech and used the spinnaker sheets, seems to be holding.

1500h wind back east at 20 ssb says another depression at 40 x 37.

Who ordered the breakfast? Playing radio trivia with Nordkap. Life at 15 degrees, I am starting to believe that Azores is Portuguese for rotten weather.

20/05/93

Big storm on the 13th damaged the maxi prop. Huge sperm whales every where. On the 15th 12 miles from shore the haze settled in line thick fog vis less than 100 feet. And the gps went on holiday, made the land fall strictly on radar.

In the last week we have become very close with the crews from Nordkap and LC.

*note* Final count three boats lost and one still unaccounted for one of the lost boats was a thirty-five foot cat from FLORIDA.

LOST FOUR IN BERMUDA

LIFE WAS STARTING TO SUCK

A TWO MAN CREW WAS PUSHING OUR LUCK

Are you guys keeping track of the constant repairs? This boat was high and tight when we left. If you are going to go … You had better be ready.

Stay tuned.

If you would like more, it’s a simple thing. E-mail the Eagle and ask for more submissions. Its no work for me as I’m cutting and pasting from a dusty old floppy.

You may e-mail Capt. Campbell with questions, comments and ideas for topics you would like to see him address at Baitkiller@comcast.net or 389-9769. Campbell AMS is an Accredited Marine Surveyor associated with the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors, The American Boat and Yacht Council and the Collier County Marine Trades organization.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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