I got to crew on a delivery from Nantucket, MA to the Annapolis Sailboat show this year. The GRIBs indicated that if we went far enough south that we’d miss the worst of the low crossing our bow, we even delayed our departure to help it pass. That didn’t work out; the wind never clocked so we must have crossed right in front of the low pressure as it stalled and dissipated. I got some good footage before the sunset as we got into the worst of it.
I have a Firefighter/Paramedic friend who often says that much of his job is to sit around and wait for bad things to happen. Running in a gale is a lot like that; you’re sitting on deck waiting for something bad to happen TO YOU!
I’ve gotten asked “how big are those seas?” It’s always hard to judge but I wanted to know too. Unfortunately the closest buoy to our position at the time was more than 30nm closer to shore. But it got 12′ significant wave height:
So I am assured we had at least that. The perspective of the camera here is at least 10′ off the water so I was sure we had at least 16′ seas. The skipper and first mate of the trip both said that the biggest seas must have been 20’ers. I doubted this at first but I came around because from my perspective 10′ above the water the horizon came back into view about halfway up the front of the wave.
You can observe this also: in the first frame of the video you can see the horizon which disappears a fraction of a second later as we descend the back of a swell. The horizon pops back into view at 6 seconds and we are atop the wave behind at 9 seconds. 3 seconds to descend 10′ off the back of the wave in front then 3 seconds to ascend the first 10′ of the wave behind to seeing the horizon and finally 3 more seconds to reach it’s top. I believe this method works particularly well for waves that are 2x the height as you are off the water; I’m curious whether it works for even bigger seas.
I’d say most of the seas were around 16′ and the big ones were right around 20′.
Some footage that actually shows the sails from a few hours before the worst of it:
I shot this as I got on watch a few hours before we really got into the worst of the gale; back when it was gusting 35 instead of blowing 35. We did roll up a bit more of that jib before the first video; before Chip came on watch. You can also see that we have the jib sheeted to the rail off of the self tacker so the rolling didn’t have it sliding all over the track.