By J. & R. Limantas
Several months ago, I found a book in the bookstore - Terschelling Sands by Frank Mulville. I read this book with great interest, because in the fall some years ago I had trouble near Terscelling.
……My friend and I, while sailing from Lithuania to England and then on to South America, decided to stop and rest in the harbor at Cuxshaven,Germany, because the
North sea was stormy. The next day was a Friday and an old superstition prevented
me from going to sea on Fridays. We could not leave Cukshaven on Saturday and Sunday
as there was a strong gale blowing. The forecast for Monday was a strong breeze.
The yacht club harbormaster told us on Monday, that we would not have a better window
in the near future.
We left. By 6 pm, there was a fresh gale. We were sailing with a fully reefed main
and a storm jib. The wind got stronger and waves got steeper, but we continued to
sail toward Dover, England. At midnight, I hove-to under shortened sail, but after
some time changed my mind, because we were in the middle of the busy shipping lanes.
The wind reached strong gale force. I do not know what time it was, when I noticed
that the wind speed transducer at the masthead had been blown off.
After a stormy night and day, the wind finally eased in the evening. The depression
had passed, but my friend insisted that we sail to Borkum Island, Germany and stop
for the night. This was strange, we were not on a pleasure cruise and had hundreds
of ocean miles to sail, before we reached our goal of Cape Horn. Although my friend
had ocean experience, after the first storm I could feel him slipping away into
himself. We left Borkum early the next morning. The wind again got stronger and
stronger, the yacht was running 8-9 knots. For safety reason, I reduced sails to
only the storm jib, but we were still making around 5 knots.
Problems with my crew started again. I had a store of medication on board on case
of emergencies during the trip. I realized that he was using these medicines. I
was angry but I saw his eyes and understood that he was sick with fear and not in
control of himself. I knew I would be unable to continue to the South Atlantic Ocean
with him. He was not mentally prepared for this trip. I took the helm and changed
course to Terschelling.
Wind and ebb current were against us. Tension increased as we neared the sand banks.
It’s took six hours during the rain soaked stormy night to sail about ten miles
to West Terschelling. The whole time I could not leave the tiller. I do not know
how many years of my life were lost during that long night. I was lucky because
two and half month ago my wife and I sailed around this islands with the former
Dutch owner of our yacht, who knew these waters well. My memory was good enough
to remember the locations of the lights in the channel and I could navigate without
a chart. Before we even tied up to the pier, my friend jumped off the yacht and
left not even taking any of his gear. What could I do? I worked to tie up the yacht.
He returned after a half hour. There was no ferry service at night.
In the morning, a customs officers came for our paperwork. They looked at me strangely.
When I went to take a shower, I understood why. My eyes were bloodshot from the
tension of the long stormy days and nights. For two weeks I could not read or write.
Good sea practice dictates that you should put out to deep water away from shore
during stormy weather, but it was that or be on a yacht in stormy seas with a crewmate
who was out of control.
(My crew member returned home from Netherlands. I sailed on alone to Dover, England where
my friend, Linas Ivanauskas joined me for the rest of the trip.)