Voicememo Update Mark #2

2018 September 24th | Golden Globe Race

 Hi all,  Another message from me on the boat Maverick. It have been incredibly heavy. I’ll talk you trough this bizarre storm from the start of it until now. The wind began from the North West, increasing to 40-45 knots with stronger gusts. With this direction everything went well, no big issues. For the main part in this fase Maverick was on 3 reefs and storm jib and getting along very well.

At 6:00 am Gregor reached me on the radio, warning me for the front that just had passed him, with bizarre windspeeds from West. It was much more wind than he expected en it resulted in losing his mizzen mast. So that was really way too heavy.  Then it was Abhilash on the radio, he was not in a good mood. He was a bit impressed due to  the fact that he lost his mizzen boom break in the big winds and seas. What worried me is that Gregor said having hard times keeping the wind and waves right on the stern, while his boat constantly tended to wipe out. We said let’s have radiocontact at 11 o’clock. But both Gregor and Abhilash did not show up on the radio.. Meanwhile I was in the middle of the low. It went right over me, resulting in no wind at all, in an instant with big seas. That lasted 2 to 3 hours. At that moment I decided to give Don a call. In case of emergency it is at all times allowed to phone Don. Then I heard the sad news that Gregor rolled 360 and also lost his main mast. Meanwhile the wind started building rapidly around me. After that Don texted me: 'Hold on tight, you’ll get 65 knots plus ! Holy crap.'

When I was in the middle of it Don texted me that I had to go back because Tomy was in big trouble. (editor: ALERT Tomy dismasted. severe back injury cannot move at 39' 38.420 S 077' 22.565 E at 21 Sep 12:09 UTC) He was said he had a severe backinjury. When I looked at the sea state it was immediately clear to me that going back to Tomy was simply impossible. Wave hights reached easily 50 ft and it was absolutely impossible to go against it close hauled. Besides, it was pitch dark and when I got this message a huge wavecrest went over the boat. It crashed the aft hatch. Eeh, it just exploded! The next two waves came over and filled the boat till the nav station. So that gives an idea of the circumstances I was in. No way that I would be able to reach Tomy at this time! I managed to fetch another hatch to close the gap before my boat was completely filled. It is funny, no of course not funny at all but It's amazing how quick and how systematically you are thinking in crisis situations like this!

I just put on the new hatch, bang! And put on a big pump, just sat on the pump. When the water was below 20 inches I unplugged all electronics. Just put everything loose. Meanwhile the SBB radio was completely flooded. Then the cable which connects my Aries windvane and tiller broke, so Maverick ended up with wind and waves on the beam, not good! This was definitively a dangerous situation.When the electrical bilge pumpes gained control over the water inside the boat , at the level of the floor boards I could go outside. Before start we discussed many options, among the skippers, what to do to deal with storm situations. Throwing warps over board and trawl heavy stuff and so. To keep the stern in the wind and break waves before they reach you. Well, I thought a lot and pondered these problems. But I quickly saw the boat wasn’t behaving in a sound way with that stuff behind the boat. So I decided halfway the storm to pull the 200 meter lines and everything back on board. That was much better!  I also put the storm jib up instead of sailing under bare poles, like Gregor did. I trimmed the storm jib and maintained good speed. I do really think that has saved me. Several times, eh… At a certain moment I broached once every 30 minutes or so. A bunch of knock downs in a short while. I was handsteering all the time since I managed to get rid of the water inside the boat. Then I was knocked down and found myself in the water. Luckily I managed to get back on board. I decided that it was too dangerous outside. So I fixed the cable of the Aries windvane and went inside.

Some folks might know what it is like to replace the stearing cable, but it is a totally different story when you have to hang outside the boat for half a meter trying to replace a small cable   while the wind is blowing with 70-80 knots! That was simply too bizar for words, but if you persist and do not give up, you will succeed as I did. In the meanwhile the sprayhood was removed and the sails on the sides where gone, the railings were weak  and the scepters were bent. Yes, really everything you can think of was damaged.

But it doesn’t matter anymore; the boat is sailing again thanks to the Aries Windvane. I can not believe how unbelievably strong the Aries Windvane is. It did not break or even got damaged, I am really amazed by this vane and very thankful of course. While I was outside, stearing, I noticed and smelled smoke coming from inside the boat. I ran inside to check what was going on and saw that three lamps caught fire. Not so smart to place 40 ampere fuses between those three lamps. This probably happened during the final stressful moments prepping the boat.

After dealing with the fire, I replaced the stearing cables and went inside and waited. The waiting was nerve racking as it lasted 10 hours before the wind dropped to 40 knots. During these hours Don sent me messages to support me: ‘keep up the work, you are doing well’.      I can say that this was the worst survival moment in my life. But I made it. And I can even see some positive details: I only had 1 big braker behind the boat. The hood was broken, it was hanging sideways. But Frank, you did make a perfect thing as I could put it back without any hastle. It just has one tear, that's all! The only thing that's a bummer is that I can't zip the back flap anymore, but that is all.

The entire railing at the back came to the front 5 or 6 centimeter. Again you can imagine how bizar it was. Really really bizar. I can not believe how much force the sea holds. I will never ever again drag lines or anything for that matter, behind the boat whilst being in a storm. The best thing is to go fast forward, in the same direction as the waves, as than the force is less powerful you know. If you drive your bike very slowly you also fall, that's the same with a boat. I do not understand all those stories that people drag stuff behind their boats, that's really nonsense. As soon as I removed the lines, the boat immediately started stearing again, perfectly on the wind.

What can I tell, everything is wet inside the boat. My sleeping bags, my beds, Uhm. I did not had a proper sleep in 3 days. Yesterday there was a little sun and 1 sleeping bag dried a bit. So last night was the first night that I was not too cold. The nights before I was sleeping on the floor.

Also all the cabinets where the food is stored where filled with 20-30 cm water, everywhere. You can simply not believe it. All my maps are wet, my books. Everything, everything, everything is wet. I lost 4 extra rolls of toilet paper. Bizar! And the drying is going really slow as the weather is also wet and humid. But you know, I will not give up and hang in there. I can manage the fact that everything is wet. I placed wet stuff underneath my body when I went to bed, this helps getting stuff dry. As I lay on top of them, they dry! The maps are hanging everywhere in the boat. For the rest everything goes well.

We will just go on. I will speak to you again soon. Bye! 

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