The Bermuda Triangle is richly storied. This afternoon, as we sail through the Bermuda Triangle, and celebrate its approaching exit, we have yet another story to add to its rich history of mysterious encounters.
The last two days we’ve experienced a low pressure system and the waves have responded to the atmospheric pressure differential. The dawn watch and morning watch included many sailors who took on stints leading the opposing argument between helm and ocean, one waiting to steer a course of 190, the other wanting to force our bow eastern into the wind. The swells averaged 13 ft. and the occasional larger set would test the helms person’s ability to continue cornering the approaching waves off the port quarter.
The Dawn Watch was fatigued by their time in this power struggle through the night, but in good morale after the sun came up and ready for bed. We relieved them at 0700. The heated discussion between helm and ocean continued, with a strong opening argument by Nick who held the helm despite Cramer’s keeling tendencies to follow the ocean and wind.
I stood by and watched his technique, knowing that I would be taking over with my two cents soon. In the meanwhile, others came up to spill their coffee and observe first-hand the loud waves that rocked them through the night. An occasional wave would splash those standing on the quarter deck, the crew continued to keep count of the times water spray overtopped the leeward rail (14 by between 0100 and 0900), and all commented on the particular beauty of the blue the ocean turns right at its crest before it breaks.
I took the helm around 0800 and quickly tried out the tactics that what Nick had described moments before and demonstrated over the past hour. Thirty minutes later, Ruthann relieved me. I felt the power of the dialogue in my time, but was grateful to pass off the difficult discussion to a more experienced sailor. Little did we know that the timing of this move would perhaps save us all from the mysterious powers of the Bermuda Triangle…
Nate, Nick, and I were just wrapping up trying our balance while lashing down a sail not currently rigged when as we walked back towards the quarter deck, an unexpectedly large welcoming committee awaited us. Passing ay mid-ships, Katherine, buckled in to the safety line slide, yelled back to us “Get the Emergency Tiller!!” In the mere five minutes we’d been forward, our 6 person crew swelled to over 20. We learned that an alarm was sounded that we hadn’t heard over the whistling wind, because the helm had fallen off! The large wooden wheel had come right off the face of the wheelbox. Response and resolution were fast.
We quickly discovered that holding the helm up to the bearings allowed Ruthann to still steer, and she’d known to give the ocean a small win by steering into the wind to avoid a jibe. The ever calm and collected Captain Chris coached his crew to center the mains’l, hove to, and deploy the engineering team for repairs. After a few hours of being hove to rest and recuperate, we, at 1400, are back to sailing under the stay s’ls with our eyes set to the light at the end of the triangle… all of us with a Bermuda Triangle story of our own to tell.
-Kate Dubickas, C305T
To Katherine Rigney’s mother – Katherine is well and safe! (This goes for the same to all our families! J !)