The day started very well yesterday. Early morning departure from Berthier-sur-Mer. Winds were strong but manageable so we set sail with full Genoa. Not too much later the winds increased so Genny was furled to 3/4’s…then to1/2…then barely a triangle of a storm sail. Even at that with the wind strength and force of the retreating tide waters we were flying at 9 knots. Because of the speed we reached our day-end waypoint shortly after noon, found what seemed like a protected spot well out of the channel and dropped the anchor. Super rolling water so Francois decided to place the second anchor at 60 ° just in case. We don’t know why, but the boat turned and that perfect ‘v’ completely reversed bringing wave after wave into our back. And as you MacGregor sailors know, the engine well is probably one of this fine boat’s biggest design flaws. Water started gushing into the engine well and of course into the bilge below. With pure brute strength in those 30-40 knots winds and 1-2 metre waves, Francois dragged in the second anchor. His description, like weight lifting for a whole week.
So with everything apparently secure, bucket after bucket of water was emptied from the bilge…from port side then when the boat shifted…from starboard. A little supper straight out of the can. I tried my best to ‘class it up’…grape leaves, camembert, smoked oysters and crackers with a good stiff tot of rum. Only one of those to warm our insides because we knew the storm wasn’t over yet. Even with the anchor digging in we heeled 30 ° port then 30 ° starboard for several hours.
This kind of situation really does dig into a person’s self-confidence. We started doubting that maybe this trip was too ambitious. Could we or would we want to spend many more days like this at anchor? The whole point of equipping R.E.D. the way we did this year was so we could be more autonomous. Up to Berthier-sur-Mer we had been off-grid for 6 days at anchor. We were really proud of ourselves and it was fun…rocky at times…but fun. Now we have been forced to rethink our plans. We talked over supper-from-the-cans then went to bed hoping the weather would calm down during the night.
We were so tired and things seemed secure so decided not to do a 2-hour on, 2-off anchor watch. Instead, we put the chart plotter’s visual on the iPad and put the plotter on sleep mode. This way we could view the anchor radius in the relative comfort of the cabin or even in bed.
Well, things got worse…much worse. Just before midnight we were hit with the first storm, a really severe squall. It lasted only a few minutes but it was fierce. Within a half hour the second round hit. More fierce winds, this time with pelting rain. Then another, this time with thunder and lightning. We watched from our berth the visual of poor R.E.D. circling her mighty Bruce anchor, thinking that any minute the line would surely break. But she held fast. At one point, I heard Francois say: “You’re a brave little boat, R.E.D.” I didn’t feel so brave at that point though. Francois being the calm one, put together our contingency plan should the anchor break. We prepared ourselves, got dressed and waited. Another storm hit us. I’m no longer allowed to say: ‘well it’s calm now’ because every time I did another storm would hit us. And it did, one more time. Around 04hr00 things seemed to slow down. I kept my mouth shut. We slept. We got about an hour of sleep before the alarm woke us at 05hr00. Time to grab a coffee and take advantage of the high tide.
So there you have it! Still uncertain how far we will go on this trip but reaching Tadoussac is on the horizon, meeting up with friends, then possibly crossing over to the south shore and home. We’ll see. Today was an amazing beginning after last night. So much beauty from so much hell. Confidence is bolstered…for now.
…and the one thing that erased all the hell from last night. Francois found me a pod of Balugas romping on the shoreline. We respected the 400 metres distance but there they were, little mounds of white in the cold blue water.
Much more to come from our brave little R.E.D., her trusty companion Ballon de Rouge, the mighty Bruce and her crew.
Sounds like you got a good shake! However, your good planning, training, discipline and courage got you through.
Carry on sailors!
Thanks for your words of encouragement Sylvain. What you said is what we concluded today. Sailing on! Xoxo
Sylvain has it right! You two have prepared for this trip! Stick to your plans! We’re cheering for you
We’ve just survived our first three nights at anchor two of who had ok protection and 20+ knots. At least now after reading this I realize we had it easy
Was re-reading your words Hugh and I think when it’s the first time it’s never easy no matter what.
Wow. An excellent description of a challenging experience!
I have a theory that boats seem to change in apparent size. Hitched to our car our Mac looks huge…but at anchor at night in a storm she suddenly feels much smaller.
Well done RED and crew!!
So small and so vulnerable but today with calm water and warm sunshine we are the masters of our universe…until Mother NAture hits us again
Bonsoir Kathy et François! Toute une expérience nautique. Certes inquiétante et parfois presque paniquante sûrement, mais votre préparation théorique et pratique vous a fait prendre de bonnes décisions et vos réactions en moment importun ont été guidées par cette préparation. Après la pluie le beau temps, après des moments difficiles viennent des moments encore plus beaux. La preuve, les bélugas vous ont accompagnés. Poursuivez votre voyage en respectant la nature et en continuant de vous fier aux mesures de sécurité apprises. Votre voyage commence et allez y à votre rythme… Bons vents, mais pas trop quand même!
Bonsoir Stéphane, effectivement se fut une expérience inquiétante, au passage du squall Kathy était prête à faire un appel de détresse. On s’est fait brassé dans toute la nuit, gîte de 30 degré par les rafales de vent, le bateau s’est fait bousculer au gré des vents, vagues et des marés. Mais ce soir, nous sommes seul à l’ancre et nous venons tous juste de voir des baleines sauter à 400 mètres autours de nous. Wow, l’expérience d’hier en valait la peine.
Wow…brave people. Scary… Take care and hope the easier and happier times are ahead.
Thanks Dorean. Already are. Fresh new day with calm water, whales, seals and beautiful scenery.
Well done! Hooray for the fearless crew! Preparation always shows. Loved the meal; I have a can of tuna for protein, green beans for digestion, and pineapple for dessert.
? Did you have dagger or rudders down for stability? Was water ballast full? I’ve tried different combos but never weathered a storm as severe as the one you conquered. As the storm rages, I like to ask Mother Nature between lightning strikes “Is that all you got? Hit me with your best shot! Fire away!” It makes me feek like I’m in charge, lol, then I’m not scared. I just scoff at every wave and pretend I am a dedpicable super villain.
Oh Irene you make me smile with your gutsy courage. I love hearing about your adventures!. Ballast is always full from the time she’s in the water until haulout. We tried dagger down but it had adverse effect from the strong wind and current combo. With 45 knot winds and tidal currents all we could do was hang on. With each challenge we add to our repertoire of experience.