Sister's Journal

Date: 27.June.1999
Location: Ames Lake, Washington
Position: 47 degrees 39 minutes North, 121 degrees 57 minutes West
Home for a break
We're baaaaack!
We left Norway last Monday the day after a gale had blown itself down to a strong wind. Unfortunately the sea hadn't settled yet so we had a bit of a roller coaster ride back to Sweden. 12 hours motor sailing in 20-25 knot winds with the seas coming from the starboard beam. This means a particularly rolly ride. We motored but put part of the jib (the forward sail) out to lessen the roll. It helped but only a bit.
The last 2 hours or so the seas were coming from the stern and, for part of the time we hand steered. Wanda the wandering autopilot steered most of the way. There's good news and bad news about seas coming from the stern.
The good news is that, as the sea overtakes you the boat tends to want to surf down the face of the wave. Even heavy boats like Sister can reach nearly twice the speed she would normally sail at. The more you surf to higher your average speed and the sooner you get out of the crappy weather. A good helmsman can take advantage by positioning the boat just so as the wave comes on. Jack was surfing Sister to speeds up to 12 knots. I caught a few waves myself, it's pretty exhilarating.
There are two parts to the bad news. First, on really large waves one can surf down the wave fast enough to drive the bow into the sea at the bottom of the wave. The boat can submarine or, in very extreme cases, it can actually pitch pole (turn ass over tea kettle is the friendly term). Pitch poling is very uncomfortable. It usually strips the rigging from the boat instantly turning a sleek, graceful sailboat into a heavy, slow, extremely well ballasted power boat. Second, as the boat hurdles down the face of a wave it can tend to turn 90 degrees one way or the other ending up broadside to the oncoming wave. This is called broaching and it can result in a "knockdown" where the boat goes on her side, mast more or less horizontal. It can also result in a capsize. Usually sailboats survive either a knockdown or capsize although, obviously, capsizing is more likely to do damage to the rigging. A "well found" sailboat will right itself even if it has turned completely turtle.
Make no mistake, the conditions that we faced last Monday weren't so bad as to pose such threats. We surfed some and even though we broached a couple of times there was no threat of being knocked down. It was, however, most uncomfortable. I experience a bit of seasickness again although it never came to full fruition, if you know what I mean.
Currently Sister is back at the Hallberg-Rassy yard. They're making a few fixes including repairing the keel damage done by that bastard Norwegian rock. When we hoisted the boat we could see that we had deformed and/or removed a small section of the lead keel. Fortunately there was no hull damage so repairs will be pretty straight forward.
Jack and Peggy have returned to Seattle, their respective jobs and continuing planning and preparation for their second voyage to the South Pacific. Bob decided that he needed warmth and humidity so he's spending the next several weeks in Thailand. We'll be home until July 12 when we return to the yard with niece and nephew in tow to start our long journey south eventually reaching the Canary islands in November. Camellia and Ryan will be with us for 5 weeks through Denmark and on to England. We're all looking forward to it.
As you probably have determined for yourselves our internet access has been pretty spotty. We don't have our on board system yet but even when we do have it our access will be limited to email because the data rate of the on board system is so slow. That means that updates to the web site will be very infrequent. Not as infrequent as they have been thus far (never) but infrequent. I hope to be able to keep you up to date via email more regularly. I also hope to update the site while we're home. Any time I make a significant change to the site I will notify you by email.
Chuck and Andy at Ames Lake (Why would anyone leave a beautiful place like this?)

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