Mary Ellen Shelzi, Orange, NH USA asks:
I just got done reading the December 26th report completely amazed. You
sound so matter-of-fact retelling the accounts of your passage, but
honestly, were you ever scared at all? I mean, rationally, I guess you
know that the boat's not going to capsize and basically as long as your stomach holds out, you'll be fine. But I imagine your heart was racing a
bit. What about Mary and Steve? It seems you are the calm, cool, heady
one - but what about them? Do you ever have to chill your crew out?
Each day I continue to be amazed with your story. Keep having fun!
Scott Flanders from Egret responds:
Mary Ellen, Good question!! Egret had four relatively heavy weather issues
on this trip. They were all between Brazil and Ushuaia, Argentina. The
Atlantic crossing was a piece of cake with zero weather issues. These four
weather incidents were not matter of fact. They were simply an issue that
has to and must be dealt with at the time. Nothing lasts forever including
weather. Egret is a very, very good sea boat. She has two weaknesses.
The first is very large following quartering seas. Literally every boat
made has these problems. The solution is to run before those large seas
until things slow down. If that is not comfortable or dangerous you must
'round up - sailboat hove to' until the storm allows you to resume course.
This is simply putting the bow into the seas that is most comfortable and
safe at very low rpm's until you can resume course. Your actual headway is
very slow because of the high wind, low rpm's and the much greater distance
traveled up and down, not forward. Egret's second issue is our big fixed
top supporting four large solar panels. If very heavy wind (35 knots plus,
sustained, not a gust) hits the beam it rolls the boat to 30 plus degrees.
Again we have to 'round up' and face the seas or run a course that is safe
and reasonably comfortable.
To answer your specific 'people question' there were/are no issues. We have
written before what we do is a matter of acclimation. Those seas would have
had our knees shaking five years before. It is seldom weather hits in a big
blast. The seas normally build so acclimation has already started. When
the major force of the front hits, your attention ratchets up a bit. Mary
and Steve have enough sea miles that this is no big deal. Yes, we all have
our hearts beating a bit faster when the worst is carrying on but you soon
get into the routine of facing the waves and taking care of business. Egret
doesn't wear you out like other boats we have owned. When she falls off the
back of sharp waves she settles into the water softly with no hammering,
shuttering or any real noise above the sound of the wind. Each time we get
into this situation, after the optimum course is set, it is actually kind of
cool. It is simply AMAZING to watch this little ship deal with the seas.
As far as ultimate safety for any boat as long as you keep water out of your
bubble of air you will make it no matter how uncomfortable it may be unless
you go aground. That would be REAL bad. THAT is why we have a wing engine,
a big anchor, three spare anchors and a parachute anchor. Let's also not
forget about the little Lugger.