As the evening approached, we readied ourselves for the approaching cold front. My dad had given me the forecast over the radio, as well as another ham operator who felt it important that we receive the exact location and conditions of the front. I assured the Maritime Mobile Net that we were preparing ourselves for the approaching weather, and we would be in contact when it was over.The frontal approach seemed to take forever. As we entered the evening, we watched the frontal boundary close in on us. We kept expecting it to pour rain at any moment. The wind & seas gradually built as the evening wore on into the night.Ben & I had the first watch. The first thunderstorm came so close that we could feel the first rain drops, smell a change in the air, and worry about the lightening. Suddenly, the storm moved past & away from us. As the seas grew, the helm needed a bit more attention in order to steer the waves in the dark, but under just a quarter of the jib, the boat handled it beautifully.
Wil came on for the next watch, and I rested in the main salon in the case of an “all hands on deck” call. Ben stuck it out with Wil. We all kept our harnesses & foul weather gear on at all times. The winds grew to 30+ knots, and there was constant activity on deck throughout the remainder of the night. The lightening was everywhere and so bright that it ruined any night vision. We were more than happy when the first morning light started to appear on the horizon.
We later learned that the winds were sustained at 30 knots, and gusting to 70 knots within the thunderstorms. All night long, the thunderstorms danced 360 degrees around us, came up, kissed us, and then moved on. I get chills when I think of the starry patch of sky that remained directly above us for the entire night. If that’s not proof of a guardian angel, then I don’t know what is.
My dad also informed me that we seemed to be the most tracked vessel out there. We were giving our daily position (sometimes twice daily), sea and wind state over the ham for Ship Track. We had our regularly scheduled contacts for 1015, 1415 & 1615, but my dad said that the net would occasionally put out a call for KF4IVI on the s/v Black Pearl and ask “Jenny, are you there?” It is such a comforting feeling knowing that there were so many people watching out for us. A HUGE thanks to all of those ham radio operators that make the Maritime Mobile Net possible!
[We were also using a SPOT personal locator device that my mother-in-law had loaned us. I would press the SPOT check/OK button periodically throughout each day, and our family & friends back home would get instant email or text messages of our position. At times when I couldn’t be on the radio, I would press the button & let everyone know we were still there. I believe they all enjoyed keeping up & knowing just how quickly we were moving through the water! This is also how my dad was able to give us weather forecasts based on our exact position]
At the same time while we were experiencing this cold front, we were fully aware of a Panpan call out from the US Coast Guard for a 40 ft sailing vessel that had departed Charleston, headed for the Bahamas, and was reported overdue. If they were headed south in the wind & sea conditions that we experienced, I can’t imagine that they got very far very fast. We are thinking of them and hoping that they are only delayed due to the conditions.
At the end of the day, we were thrilled with Full Monty’s ability to comfortably handle these type of seas. We were conservative with the sails and never asked too much of her. We now know she will carry us where we want to go.