Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Wednesday afternoon (day 6) had been so beautiful, but it turned ugly real quick. The wind picked up and clocked around from the north and the seas swelled to 6 to 8 foot waves. Our rigging was loose, it was dark, we had to think fast. We were south of Louisiana, so we really didn't have a safe harbor close. We believed in s/v Kairos, so we forged on. We tried to furl the staysail, but the sheets were whipping around so violently, they were quickly tangled. Bill and Mako went forward while I stayed at the helm. It was dark, the wind was screaming, the boat was bouncing, and the spray was flying. All I could think was, 'please don't go overboard.' I finally saw Mako making his way back to the cockpit, and all I heard was, "overboard". My heart sank. No, Bill did not go overboard, Mako fell and said, "Better hurt than overboard." Boy, was I relieved to see them both back in the cockpit. For the next two days, we ran with the wind. We surfed, rocked and rolled with confused waves hitting us, BOOM, sometimes heeling to 40 degrees. This was not good for our crippled rigging. We were reefed on a port tack, winds gusting to 35 knots and the waves were hitting us from behind, reaching 12 to 15 feet. When a wave rolled under us at too much of an angle, we surfed down and the gunwale would hit the water. Mako said he saw us heel to 55 degrees at times. The fish started flying in. We tired quickly. Our shifts were long and hard. Sleep was just a short nap, then back in the cockpit.

By Thursday night, all three of us were exhausted. We started to hallucinate. I was wet and the wind was cold, and the spray hit us in the cockpit. I saw all kinds of things. Yes, and those sirens that you've heard stories about… they are out there too. Trust me, I saw them. The nights had been so dark, we couldn't see to steer, we just tried to be at a good angle when the waves hit our stern, so the stress on the rigging would be lessened. Oh yeah, remember, the rigging is still trying to come through the deck. At one point, Bill tells us we might have to get our passports out and he might have to make a call to Hilary, because we are heading for Cuba. We are off course, heading more south, but that's all we can do at this point. When the sun came up, it was the same relief that you get from sitting up all night with a very sick baby. It's just not as scary in the daylight. 

The winds and waves had calmed a little. Our course on the chart plotter looked like we were heading for Cuba, not exactly where we wanted to go. We started the engine and turned upwind. We were close hauled on a port tack. We could make Dry Tortugas before dark. Just about the time we are beginning to relax, there is a loud clang right behind Mako. The fitting on a broken cable support, came off and slammed into the edge of the cockpit, missing Mako's head by inches. It could have been fatal. Two gouges were taken out of the gel coat. 

Photo by Mako Crosby
I spotted the light house at the Dry Tortugas… but forgot to say "Land Ho". Oh well, next time. Our digital charts told us that we could anchor in a channel by Fort Jefferson that was not used anymore, because it was shoaling. We got there, but the channel is now a sandy beach. We turned around and went to the other side of Fort Jefferson, and there we anchored with about seven other boats. Our first attempt with a plow anchor was not successful, we drug. A danforth anchor was pulled from the lazaret and deployed also. We held through the night.

After we anchored, we all took much needed HOT showers. It was good to wash off the layer of salt. We hadn't eaten much in the last two days, so our meal of chips, salsa and chicken flavored rice was delicious! After we ate, we relaxed, laughed and had a couple of beers. It was a good feeling to be just bobbing in the water. We all slept well.

799 nautical miles in 8 days. 

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