Donna Lange fights for her boat and life

Posted By on April 16, 2007

Atlantic stormDonna Lange, the solo circumnavigating sailor, has faced some challenging weather in her voyage around the world, and although she is closing in on home, the ocean is not finished with her yet. Today’s log entry is about as hair raising as it can get as she detailed last nights wicked wind and waves. I’ll include her entry as it was posted.
Donna Quote

1010UTC 0610est
Apr 16, 2007 Monday madness hugs!!!
update: AS I said, Alls well that ends well…I
am safe and sound…yet I have had a historically
rough night. The storm escalated to tropical storm
height..I was just in awe as the storm did not
go through but just intensified and intensified.
It was a brilliant ride and I was truly soaking
up the whole magnificence. I had been on deck
from the very beginning of the stronger winds around
2000UTC, but it went too far…It was after the
Commander weather router’s suggested 0400UTC, when
the storm should pass and turn west, that it began
to deepen…Finally to where I was barepoled and
working with the steering vane, struggling to steer
a course with each stronger gust that came. the
godsend was that it was warm. I was soaked for
hours..We had taken many ‘hits’, the norm for growing
seas, engulfed stern, I had a bucket to help to
bail the cockpit, often literally filled above
the seats. The down below floor was being flooded
with water with each of these full hits as the
outer lockers still manage to lift with that much
water and it pours in. It was around 0600 that
we took more than a hit. A huge wave broke completely
over the port stern quarter, turned us fully on
our side, I was literally holding my breathe fully
underwater, holding onto the dodger frame with
all my life. It was only a few seconds and II
righted herself. Another wave crashed into the
stern.. It was time to stop… and get secured.
With so much wind and having been unsuccessful
with hoving to, I didn’t want to chance trying
to raise the main and do the hove to dance. So
I turned to the sea anchor and got her rigged to
go. but unfortunately, i wasn’t thorough in my
set up and once the parachute inflated, the force
on the line was tremendous,the line managed to
get snarled as it payed out despite my attempts.
I should have wrapped it around the winch so I
had control of the force of the water in the chute…I
dare say, the line out was only a small amount
of the 150′ line. Ihad secured the bitter end.
but once the chute was out, there was no way to
add a line. I did use a cinch knot on the line
and was able to free up the tension on the cleat
but still found the knot too tight and the cinch
let go..I had rigged a bridle but was not able
to use the extension rope as I say. Realizing
that the shorter rhode seemed to be working, I
let it go. the lines were strewn. The dodger flapping
in the wind as the whole bottom edge had come apart
and could no longer be secured. I am concerned
that with all the forces on the steering vane with
my attempts to ‘help her’, I may have damaged the
mechanism that transfers the energy from the vane
to the inner quadrant. that will be a big question
when I get going this morn. Once I had the anchor
set, I headed below. Exhausted from 10 hours on
deck, dealing with the conditions… the boat
was a shambles. I had not really thought about
what the essential knock down, or capsize had done
below. All the big stuff was secure but every
little bit that was in any other thing, was all
over. It was quite funny to see where things landed.
There was so much force, it flung powdered milk
across the whole boat and onto the ceiling handrail.
There is milk powder every where. But no harm
done. An hour later, all the bits and pieces were
in some home. and I was getting out of my soaked
clothes. Drinkin a hot tea. and stil just quiet
inwardly. I had been through the whole night.
I just kept moving and doing what needed to be
done.. I have resisted questioning my judgment,
and beatiing myself up for being so persistent
towards wanting to go home…The storm intensity
was not expected by the routers either, at least
not for the length of time…they suggested gusts
to 70kn but not sustained winds that high. And
Iam sure they were that high. they are still screaming
at nearly 50 and the seas 25 feet, but not really
breaking. but the other factor is the cold. With
the shift to west wind, the temp dropped drastically
to nearer the 55*mark and is nearly 50* this morning.
It will be a different day out there today. Iam
procrastinating only long enough to do the log,
yet as I speak a huge gust just came up that is
still in the 50+ maybe 60kn range. It is wild…I
may not be able to get underway. I need to get
the anchor retrieved if I can. I will need to
sail or drive up onto it as the line I normally
used for a trip line managed to not be with it..It
is formidable out there. Once moving it may be
better, but I am not sure I can even fly sail…
As this gust comes up I am questioning.. I may
just have to lay here a bit longer. We have been
safe though the movement is harsh rolly. There
are blue patches of sky. Maybe once the sun is
up, it will settle down and warm up. I got 2 sets
of clothes wet yesterday…But the hardest is that
my bed got soaked. When we rolled on the side,
water does make its way through the wood slats
and top companionway hatch…Overall, all is fine
if the wind steering hasn’t been damaged. It will
take a bit to get the deck cleaned up. i did lose
2 jugs of water, bt I have plenty.

I listened to Herb give a forecast for the coast
yesterday afternoon and there are 4 back to back
fronts still coming off the coast this next 10
days. there will be little easing to the conditions.
It is winter…sooo…Yes I have cried. I just
want to go home…Now I am a sentimental woman…I
have had enough, but have only hard sailing ahead.
But I will get home…One moment at a time.

I tried to update the Bermuda Rescue but their
phone did not work…I will email them with this
log…Again, all is safe. the boat is secure and
hanging nicely on the sea anchor. it is not too
rough. My mom is putting more minutes on my phone.
At this point I will be looking for input. I
will do a grib file… look for some direction
to go. Or just wait here until the conditions
moderate. If I do, I will have to find a way to
reinforce the anchor..I doubt the seastate will
become any more dangerous though it is not subsiding..so..I
don’t have a phone number for the commander weather
fellow, george. If he calls I will get his input
on what is going on…

as I said earlier, they are going to have to name
all the D tropical storms after me after this one….April…

I will update again this afternoon. Again, the
working of the steering vane is paramount to my
existence out here. without it, Iwill be at the
till until I get home…we’ll hope.

Thank you all so so for your prayers. I trust
all for all that has happened. I am certainly
not the person who left RI 1 1/2years ago. but
some things don’t change, like that old stubborn
streak. I am happy and still thrilled ot be experiencing
all that seems to be my path. One of these days
life will not seem to push so hard. I will find
out my options at this point. No worries and maybe
no hurries this morn…it is really wild..

biggest hugs to all. oxoxoxo d

Comments

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.