Always Have A Way To Rest

There is so much about this story (originally reported in Cruising Compass but no longer available) that worries me that it is hard to know where to start: A single-handed sailor abandoned his boat because he was totally exhausted from three days of hand steering, not because there was anything wrong with the boat.

“On May 8th, I left Little Creek, Norfolk en route to Scotland. The wind and general conditions were much stronger than expected. So for the next three days, I stayed at the helm. No water, no food and no sleep! After three days I called my wife on the satellite phone and was hallucinating, seeing things that were not there. From my conversation with my wife she determined that I was in trouble and called the U.S. Coast Guard.”

The key take away is that when going to sea, particularly short-handed, you must have a tried and proven way to leave the boat safely to herself in heavy weather while you rest.

See our heavy weather series for how we have rigged and equipped Morgan’s Cloud to make sure that we can always take a break.

Please leave a comment on any system that you have used successfully to take a break at sea.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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