Well I have been on the water now for two weeks and hit the seas on every opportunity. The marina is full 200+ yachts when we said we were heading out past the break waters they looked at us like crazy idiots. You could hear the sea roaring 2 miles from the coast, the break water and beacons were invisible amidst the breaking waves … game on!
Mike who came to aid me on its first voyage into the deep after its refit was in full wet weather gear, I was still dashing about making sure everything was secure. As we tacked into the breakwaters the first wave to hit us swamped the cockpit drenching me, a quick change into full wet weather gear and we were in the midst of the chaos. The swell was 4 to 6 meters high and it was a confused sea – the waves were coming from all directions, I have never been seasick and hope never to be but I was green and swallowing both my bile and infront of Mike most definitely my pride.
We were fully reefed, this was sailing at its best, drenched and howling as the bow beat into the swell. I couldn’t go below, the motion was sickening .. I am going to have to swallow my pride and buy seasick pills, we were turning on all three axis not pleasant … even the fishermen did not go out in these seas.
A six hour trip lots of squalls amazing sailing, the contessa proved her sea worthiness yet again, she didn’t slam into the valleys of the waves as most yachts that sacrifice beam (width) for increased living space do, her tulip shaped hull penetrated them and obediently lifted her chin above the water before the crest. This was like no roller coaster I had been on and we were in control.
It was so rough we couldn’t turn (tack) unless timing it with the waves, and a contessa can normally turn on a dime. The contessa is a wet yacht and the bilge pump was running over time as water got in via crevices I have yet to discover, most notably however is the gas locker which was terribly designed to allow gas to escape via the transom but also allows water to coming rushing into the locker when on the port tack where the drain exits.
Since then we have been out a few times, the seas have been a lot more timid the wind still gale force with the sleet coming in at 90 degrees and again I am so glad to be out in the contessa, no production boat can deal with those conditions so comfortably. No slapping of hulls just very obediently closed hauled and nicely keeled over … no sea sickness. She sails like a dream!!
I would give any of my 10 fingers for a self tailing winch since hauling the genoa in is asking for any one of them, if you can’t haul in tight before passing the apex of the window it’s a tough winch.
Happy to be alive, happy to have tasted the salty tang of life and confident I can deal with it again. “You would be very unlucky to encounter these seas again” said Mike the skipper … I loved them and as long as my tiller pilot doesn’t pack up on me I would welcome them. Without a wind vane or tiller pilot I would be in despair.
I have yet to learn how to tack with the tiller pilot in those conditions, the only way I can do it is with the tiller between my knees and my hands ripping at the sheets and winch – what I would do for self tailing.