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Author: David Beck

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8th to 9th March 2018

Our worst passage to date, by a distance. We have sailed in much rougher conditions without anything like as much trouble– there was just something about the motion of the seas that set all of our stomachs off to varying degrees. Not helped by Dave being tired from a very wet sail the previous day (that took much longer than expected, and wasn’t properly prepared for) and a restless night with a newly set anchor in 30kt winds which veered 180 degrees. So, he was much worse than usual. Charlotte, on the other hand, with a combination of a low dose of seasickness medication and a high dose of peppermint gum, was doing much better until she went below to make the bed and tidy up (mistake). Theo was either eating or sicking up what he had just eaten or sleeping (sometimes with food in-hand). And Arthur, after an hour or two watching the “ba ba boom” waves and telling us how much he loved them, lay down to sleep on the saloon sofa and was either asleep or being sick the rest of the journey. Anyway, by 12 hours in the kids were sleeping-or-sicking and we were miserable, so we chatted it over and decided to head for land rather than slog on for another 24 hours.

We had not researched any alternative destinations at this point in the voyage, so Charlotte picked, pretty much at random from the charts, Rota as the destination. She then went to bed while Dave took watch (with a watch alarm on 20-minute timer to remind him to wake up and look around). Nothing interesting happened, or if it did it was in the periods Dave was asleep. So, around 6am we pulled up on the reception pontoon at Rota marina, Dave had a couple of hours sleep while Charlotte tried to wash the sick off the sofas (floors, etc, etc…).

Things we learnt:

  • We could have tried sailing further off the wind for a longer stretch (we were not especially close-to-wind, but with the swell direction being on a beam-reach might have worked out OK), to see if it made the motion more comfortable. That’s what we’ll try first next time.
  • We need to think more carefully about waves left over from the wind blowing in other directions. That was probably one contributing factor. I have since found VentuSky which separates out wind-waves from prevailing swell more clearly than other sites I have seen, and shows the different directions visually, which might help a little in learning what to expect on a passage.
  • Think about turning back if conditions are not as expected – even a few hours out it was clear that while the forecast was “right” (nearly all of the waves were sub-2m; wind was 15kt or so from the rough direction forecast) it was going to be uncomfortable. We may well have decided to carry on and find out anyway, but though we chatted about it briefly early on, we were making good speed under sail and reluctant to give in!
  • Have multiple alternative destinations scoped out for those longer passages where it’s possible. We had looked at what would happen if we couldn’t get into Rabat due to an unexpected swell or weather change, but not for earlier abandonment. Making decisions between pukes is not fun – even if we made a good one 😊.

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