Turn Down the Suck! - Surfer's Path

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Turn Down the Suck!

Words by Hugh and Ryan

If you’ve just read Didee and Ryan’s wonderful descriptions of deserted islands, crystal clear waters and beaches in paradise you’re probably pretty jealous of the crew of Khulula right now. Wishing you too were exploring South Pacific paradises with us. Well, let me tell you that if you managed to magically teleport yourself aboard the boat last night, you’d be having second thoughts. It was awful. Like, wind-on-the-nose, 35 knot gusts, pouring rain, lightning, washing machine sea-sick awful.

The plan was to sail the 100 miles south back to Luganville overnight. We were expecting the usual easterly tradewinds to be blowing 15 – 20 knots. No drama. Mother Nature and Neptune had a different plan though: A trough of low pressure with southerly winds to 35 knots, plenty of rain squalls and lightning. As the famous New Zealand weather forecaster Bob McDavitt would say “Avoid”. Of course it was after dark and we were 10 miles out from the beautiful protected harbor when things started to get ugly. So we spent the night making 1.5 to 2 knots beating towards our destination while generally cursing our luck, the sea, the weather, and pretty much anything else we could name to vent our frustration.

Moral of the story? There are definitely a few here, but right now I’m way too exhausted to figure them out and write them down.

Are we venting here? Fantastic! This is Ryan and I have to say that even what Hugh wrote does not quite do the suckiness of the night justice. Over and above the 35 kt winds and monsoon downpours, the sea was ABSOLUTELY BALLIE AWFUL! The wind had been pumping easterly for the 3 days prior to our departure, building up a nice 4-5ft relatively short period swell. Add the short annoying choppy waves from the 35kt southerly and you have a sea that rears up, the disappears in triangles, throws the boat forward, pitches it on the side, break over the bow is giant SCCCWWAACCKKSSS (soaking all in the cockpit, adding a salty tinge to the fresh water deluge from the heavens), stops the boat in it’s tracks, throws it over the other way, launches the bow into the air with the sicknening result of a SSLLAMMMM as the boat comes back down onto the water. Now imagine that is it pitch black, lightning searing your retina’s, thunder booming in your eardrums, halyards slapping against the mast (CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG), everything is pitched over at 20 degrees, the floor is sticky from saltwater, everything is moist, the cabin smells like BAD (musty wet discarded raingear from the people not on shift coupled with the lingering smell of um…. er… vomit), and above it all, constant and scary, is the absolute SHRIEKING of the wind through the rigging….

Sigh… yes, I feel better now. Vented… now I can go and enjoy my glass of chilled white wine in the cockpit and appreciate this stunning sunset 🙂


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