Tuesday 17th December: The Second Capsize
The day began normally enough as we had rowed through much of the night, making c 3.5knts per hour (record speed) in lumpy, following seas. Nick took the first morning shift at 8am whilst Ed mended the water maker (again!). Conditions continued to be windy with large following seas which we were encouraged by.
Things changed dramatically at 9.15am! Winds had continued to increase up to around 30 knots and Nick mentioned to Ed that ‘some of these waves are bloody huge’! Not breakers, but large enough to get the adrenalin pumping. Then the first of 2 waves hit us. The first, probably 30 feet, was the warning for the next one to follow. Probably 40 feet now and steep enough for the Hawaians of you out there in search on huge waves, this one came directly from behind us. ‘Breakthrough’ went bow down and surfed to the bottom of the wave, burying her nose into the trough before the stern of the boat pitch-poled (cartwheeled) head over heels landing on her cabin roof. She then completed a full 360 roll to finish the aquatic display!
Nick was less impressed at the show as he had been thrown under the boat in the cartwheel, only remaining attached to it via a life-saving ankle strap. Ed, in the cabin, described it as ‘like being in a tumble drier full of spanners’ and when he first opened the cabin door again, could not see Nick anywhere. In shock, Nick dragged himself aboard and we assessed the damage – a broken oar, navigation light, water in the bow cabin and in the battery compartment of the main cabin (despite all hatches being locked shut). Water filled the rowing positions and we were now beam on to the weather and waves. We had breakfast (!) and gathered our thoughts/strength.
It’s no easy decision to say that after two years of preparation, the adventure was over, but actually the discussion was short. We were both lucky to be alive, had now survived two capsizes, and were not prepared to take more chances on a third. With low battery power, communications very difficult as our internal sat phone aerial was not working (meaning we had to be out on deck to make calls), we called for help and waited.