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Unexpected Quality Test

May 30, 2012

On May 24, 2012 we were crossing back to Ft. Lauderdale from Gun Cay. For the first 47 miles the seas were as forecasted, 2'-4' plus rollers before the stream and 4'-6' in the stream with the wind out of the south southeast at 10-12 knots. I noticed a storm moving slowly north from Miami on my Sirius weather screen, but was not concerned about it because the colors were almost completely greens with only a hint of yellow, no oranges or reds. We had experienced several days of light rain and moderate wind in the green colored areas over the previous week. 

When we got about 12 nm out the wind shifted more to the southeast and the waves began to increase. Sirius still did not show sever storm conditions. We were close to exiting the stream and I attributed the higher waves to that because the current often is faster close to the western side. The waves were coming astern so I altered course and adjusted cruise speed to minimize the rolling action anticipating I would soon be in calmer water out of the stream. I was wrong. Very quickly the waves increased to 8'. I turned into the wind and for the next hour and twenty minutes I was bow into 12' seas with waves every 8-10 seconds. Periodically I experienced back to back 12 footers with a deeper trough behind the second wave. Water came thru the anchor pockets and over the bow. It was difficult to hold my heading in the face of these waves.

 Finally I got to the edge of the storm where the waves subsided to 6'-8' and were more widely spaced. As they settled to 6', I was able to turn back to a heading for the Ft. Lauderdale outer buoy. It took another hour and twenty minutes to get inside they jetties and we had 6 footers with an occasional 8 footer all the way in. I was very glad to have the engine power I needed to enable me to throttle up when necessary to minimize the effect of the wave action and to hold course.

Through this episode the only damage Risky Business experienced was to a wing door on the starboard side. At one point we took water over the starboard rail that slammed that door shut and the weight of the water bowed the door and split open the fiberglass jacket. I have been thru the engine room and the below decks areas, and the only other evidence I have found of the rigors of this storm was a few broken snap ties that were easily replaced. At this point all equipment and systems appear to be functioning normally. 

Again, thank you for building a seaworthy boat. I never expected to test it in such difficult seas, but it is comforting to know that it can take that and more if need be.

Barry Allred

65' Outer Reef - Risky Business

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