2019 Ocean Cup - Key West to Cuba
We expected the rough water in the “potato patch”, the area under the Golden Gate Bridge, but we were a little surprised to hit such big water just after the patch. We were running in six footers instead of the usual swells that can be comfortably flown over. The 48’ APISA, with its Scarab deep V-hull, took these waves in stride, however the ride wasn’t comfortable and the boat was taking a beating when running 70mph. The first issues occurred when we hit a huge hole knocking loose a wiring harness, but Dan fixed that quickly so we were back under way.
We started to hit even bigger water off of the San Luis Obispo / Paso Robles coast where the marine layer had obliterated visibility. The winds were coming out of the northwest at 25 knots, white caps were blistering, and there were 10-foot ocean waves without swells or patterns. Then the first alarm about water in the fuel went off. Being tossed around in huge seas and having to hang upside to reach into engine bay for the fuel filter, certainly made changing and draining fuel filters an extremely difficult task, but Dan MacNamara and Andy Hindley took it in stride. And Lance Ware had his own challenges attending to the damage from two broken antennas, one GPS receiving unit, but nevertheless seamlessly switching to the fail over systems while keeping our onshore team updated.
Heading towards Vandenberg Air Force base the seas were still building. The team had four more drills in draining the water from alternating sides, but now MacNamara and Hindley were executing that task with the precision of an Indy Car Pit Crew. There were 12- to 14-foot short, frequent, confused waves, so we dropped to 50mph. I had the distinct pleasure on being on the helm as we punched through two giant waves taking a wall of water over the bow. When punching waves in an enclosed canopy ,you just keep going, but on the second stuff, the force of impact of the water destroyed the windshield and drenched everyone and our internal communications system squealed like slaughtered pigs. Dan asked me to stop, but gave me the thumbs up to get going having checked that everything was – relatively – ok!
Normally the bad sea conditions worsen as you round Point Conception, but we were relieved to find relative calm, well at least down to six foot waves and welcome wind reduction. With damage to the cockpit liner and a minor cracked bulkhead we nursed on in cruise mode until we encountered more water in fuel off Malibu. We finally seemed to sort the water issue and Dan took back over and we chased the daylight at top speed with the Queen Mary in our crosshairs.