|Thanks for posting that story. Very scary situation and even more dangerous because of the confined and crowded space where the boats really didn't have any room to avoid one another. I don't think most people realize how powerful the combination of high wind and water can be, or how destructive. |
We got into a violent storm coming down the coast from Seattle on our way to Hawaii in November of '68. Dad said there were gusts up to 70 knots and I don't doubt it for one minute. That storm did a lot of damage to our boat. She was a retired 100' schooner hulled Coast Guard ice breaker from AK and as Dad would say she was "built like a brick s**t house." Even still, there was quite a bit of damage done to the wheel house, bullwarks and gunwals. During the storm, the steel rigging had come loose and the main mast had broken in two. It was swinging wildly hitting everything in its path. Dad was out fighting to tie things down while I stayed in the wheel house and worked at keeping the vessel on course. When I think back, and considering I was pretty young, I can't believe how calm I was. I had great faith in my Dad. He was known up and down the west coast as one of the best captains around, and everyone felt safe when he was in charge.
We laid over for a month in Sausalito for repairs and us teenagers on board had a blast visiting the city and hanging out. We did eventually make it to Hawaii and although Dad went on to salvage scrap iron from different islands in the South Pacific from the war, he demanded I return home with my mother as it "was no place for a young girl." He was right! The stories he told (and wrote about in his log) about that leg of the trip were enough to scare anyone.
Dad died of cancer in '95.
This is written on a memorial to him at the harbor in Westport Wa.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.