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Saturday, November 15, 2008

We made it!

Tuesday, 11/11/08, after feeling as though we had been chewed up in a blender and spit right out of the mouth of Hell, we safely arrived in Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ.

The Passage:
After three days of motor sailing and having calm enough seas to even bake cookies, the winds began to freshen. We emailed some of our cruiser friends who were behind us telling them that we at last were getting some good winds and had a great day of sailing. On Saturday, by evening time the winds had built such that we were beginning to reef in the sails, and had in fact taken in the genoa and put out the stay sail (storm jib). Destiny doesn't usually get tossed around much especially when we (at 28 tons) are full of fuel and water, however, we felt the front squalls coming at around 10:00 Saturday night, and then by midnight I was sitting on the floor in the galley while things from shelves flew over my head. Our wind instruments were not functioning yet we knew for a fact that these were the worst winds we have ever encountered, and had to be well over the 40 knots forecasted in the weather routing update. We've been in 40 kts before and this felt far beyond that. Conditions worsened such that we were being literally thrown around as though in a blender. We dropped all the sails but could not hove-to because the seas would have put us under. We were getting waves all the way over the top of our bimini across the port beam and from behind flooding into the cockpit. We turned on the engine and ran with it praying for ourselves and for all of the others out there. We got the front, the middle and the back-end of the storm and felt like we were in a boiling cauldron for about 9 hours. We kept hoping the others were all either ahead of it or behind it. The dinghy took flight and started slamming all over the back of the boat. Next morning by the time the Net came on we were getting what we thought were the last of the squalls and felt as though we had been spit right out of the jaws of Hell! I am telling you there is power in prayer because miraculously all that we lost were the oars, our US Flag and some sleep. We had heard ungodly sounds in the night - like monsters banging the hull with battering rams, and Destiny groaned like nothing we have ever heard. She was telling us she did not like this one little bit but she took good care of us nonetheless.

Our SSB went out right after the morning Net when I checked in saying that we had just gone through a big squall. We continued to experience a lot of them, marching all around us, seas constantly washing over the top. We kept calling for radio checks on the VHF and SSB but no one could hear us. We knew that the others in the group and folks back home would be getting concerned yet we also knew there wasn't a thing to be done about that until we made landfall. We both felt a surreal sense of calm within, knowing that we and our beloved Destiny would survive this. But we were truly bordering on sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion. There was hardly a place to sit or lay without getting pitched about, and after several days it takes quite a toll on a body. Amazingly neither of us became nauseated or sea sick. We just stepped around all of the "stuff" that had spewed all over the place realizing that making an effort to tidy up would be an extreme exercise in futility.

On Monday the winds began to settle down to around 25 knots (we think). The seas continued to chop and slam us, however gave us enough reprieve that we began taking 3 hour shifts at sleeping on the settee in the saloon.

Tuesday arrived and we knew we would be in Opua, NZ by the afternoon. We began hailing the port on the VHF and were able to get enough static communication going to announce our imminent arrival. They actually responded with joy telling us that a lot of folks were worried about Destiny and had been inquiring about our whereabouts and safety. What a feeling of relief…for us all.
while at sea: (note:the sender must include the character sequence "//WL2K" in the subject line of the message.)
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

1 comment:

laurie nash said...

Barb and Frank ~ I just finished reading your most recent posts! I could hear the wind howling... and wondered, "was Barb screaming... as I know I would be every now and then just to relieve some pressure?" lol... amazing experiences you two are blessed to have and thank you for sharing these with this land lover. I really admire you both and your writing skills make me feel like I'm right there at times! wooo hooo and your coming home now! I look forward to having a cup of joe with you Barb ~ love and happy travels ~ laurie n.