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A quick and effective way to raise a heart rate.

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On January 6th our lovely Connie had her birthday, celebrated with Nick and Greg and even started early with a satellite phone call to my lovely wife (Connie’s daughter Amy), myself and our little man Alek as a birthday gift. The weather had produced some reasonable sailing, but the poor crew had been having some issues with sleep as the swell had been making some rather loud noises on the hull.

Our land crew had sent the Wet crew a weather update for the next 24-hour period and had expressed a little concern. by this point the crew had experienced swells up to 5m already at various stages of the sail which let me assure you are fairly sizable swells and also inform you that Waiata herself is Certified to 4m as an ocean-going vessel. To give perspective, the average single-story house here in NZ has a height from foundation to roof peak of roughly 4.5mtrs so these swells at 5mtrs are taller than the average kiwi’s single story house next time your outside have a look at your house and you will get an idea of how intimidating it would be if you were in the trough of these swells in a boat. with these perspectives clearly in your mind here is what the crew reported to me.

The crew where inside enjoying a movie while periodically making watch patrols to the helm and at the same time monitoring wind and weather via the display in the saloon. suddenly the daylight began to rapidly fade, it was at this point the guys saw the cause of this…. a wave. all of a sudden, the boat was at all sorts of angles. Greg jumped up and would have run to the helm but rather had to almost crawl given the angle of ascent, Greg got to the helm just as Waiata had crested the peak of the wave which had begun to break, giving Greg a view of white water in front and a slight pulse increase. This was when Waiata began her decent down the back of the wave and reached a new speed record for herself of 14.3kts and looking back from the base of the trough the breaking water was higher the radar dome and spreaders which Greg estimates at around 7mtrs so the wave conservatively estimated would be in excess of 6mtrs (more likely 7-8mtrs) so the size of an average kiwi 2 story house! Luckily it broke when it did and the crew had not been a few minutes behind their point of ascension or else the wave may have broken on them, destroying Waiata and putting the crew into their life raft. a very scary thought. The swells that followed where back to their regular size and duration leading us to believe the crew had experienced a phenomenon known as a rouge wave.

a rouge wave credit to Skynews-

These happen rarely and differ to a Tsunami (Tsunami actually start very small mid ocean) and rather than being caused by seismic activity are caused by sudden rapid ocean water displacement the largest ever recorded November 2020 in the North Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia lifted a bouy 17.6mtrs almost 4 stories high.

The crew although rather shaken and running off adrenalin assure me they are all ok, Waiata handled it incredibly well and there has been no damage other than to their pulse rates!.

The other land crew members have forecasted some decent weather from now on so the sailing from this point forward should be rather calm and a little more pleasant than it has been.


6 Responses

  1. Funny all my thoughts start with Oh Lord or Good Heavens – despite me not being religious! What a story and a relief to hear Waiata and crew are safe. Wishing you nothing but smooth sailing from here on in! Xx

  2. What a fright, not an experience anyone would wish for but looking on the bright side the Fatarsed girl came through fir them and what a story to tell whilst swinging the lights.
    Well done to our three intrepid sailors and hopefully things will be more calm on their run in to Martinique.

  3. Wow just wow. Reading this had me on the edge of my seat, can only imagine experiencing it for real. Intense! So glad to hear all came through shaken but unharmed! Thanks for sharing this update.

    1. Thank you so much for joining us and coming along for the ride Karl.
      We made it which was a relief for me, but a foregone conclusion for Greg and Nick who are both hugely capable.
      But whilst we’re waiting to see the boat, we shall enjoy the most of what the Caribbean has to offer.

  4. So pleased to hear all crew and Waiata came through that shocker wave intact. Great work team. Can only imagine it would take quite some time to calm down from that experience.
    Wishing you a calmer sail for the balance of the voyage. xxx

  5. Made me feel pretty sick just reading & thinking about that wave. Can’t really imagine what it must have been like to be on board & experience it.

    Best wishes that the rest of crossing is incredibly boring!

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