SOIC East-India-Man Replica Götheborg III

2009-06-18 Thursday - Storm!

2009, June 18th. Within one day, from calm to storm, before the coast of Norway ... closed to our goal, Arendal.

This day I did not feel well, not strong enough to climb, so I withdrew myself, took other posts on deck. I know I am untrained, but I did not expect this to exhaust me THAT much ... OK I am just a wanna-be sailor for one week :)

So I knew my limits, and trainees must know about them. The SOIC is aware that we are land lubbers and not all are same strong. Up there, as always, it is safety first, and You must not be a risk or an obstacle for the others on the yard, You are supposed to work. If You do not feel capable, they want You to say it, and not to overdo it. After all, I am just a ship modeller ...

We have summer, June!, and we had only 12 degrees Celsius ... and the wind became ever stronger. The sails must be reefed.

Emergency! In the main top, the mast cap support, a red painted, wooden piece of 10kg, fell off its wholes, on the top platform. While it could fall down on deck, nobody must be there until it was fixed! And for a moment we asked ourselves how stable the entire main mast would be now ... the junction between the lower and the topmast is vital!

But Woody had no fear! For him this was just a nice challenge.

We sat our mizzen for the first time.

Woody again! He would help us reefing the main sail ...

Some seamiles away, the "Sea Cloud III" was passing us. She also took in all sails! The sea got really rough!

The strongest sails are the lower sails (the "courses"). But, they also can be too weak ... within 3 seconds, the fore course blew up into tatters!

I was having the "savior" post, and had not to leave it. But I had my camera with me ... just by chance.

Everybody else jumped to the spot, and the strongest people were sent up aloft to take in what was left, and save at least the port half of the sail.

Our sailmaker was not amused ... yes, we should not have set it in the first place ... (a year later he told me that it took him one month to repair the sail!)

This had been the most severe accident that ever happened on the Götheborg. Nobody was injured. But this "event" tought me another thing:

I had this image in my mind since 30 years. But if the strongest sails of the old ships - the courses - can be blown away like this, when we still had no real storm, the much more weak studdings sails could never have been handled at all under these conditions, no way!

Montague Dawson´s famous painting "Taeping and Ariel race" is still magnificant, but it cannot be true. Both ships list over 30 degrees, that is quite a lot and indicates a strong breeze, or near gale on the Beaufort scale - we had the same before Norway, and the same choppy sea. We had almost all our sails furled, and these clippers shown here are twice as big and tall as we were! Having set all canvas, including studding sails, under these conditions is at least very douptful ... the entire rigging would have been destroyed within a minute!

We continued sailing to Arendal with a half fore course, a fore staysail and the mizzen, in order to "ride out" this gale. What was strange to me: all the way we had bright sunshine! Where was this wind coming from?? Weather can be strange in the Skagerak ...

Then I had the helmsman post again - and the rudder slipped my fingers and rotated like wild! Ooops! It stopped at 30 degrees starboard so I could take grip again and pull it back - with all my forces I had. Jesus, what a choppy sea! And a single wave could swing us away from our defined course by 10 degrees! The rudder almost had no effect!

So we started the machines, to stabilize our course. At the end of the watch, I was completely exhausted, and soon went to sleep, as we were expected to work again early next morning ...