March 26, 2012-The Story Behind this Photo
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing The African Coast
This photo is the screen saver on my computer. I look at it every day, probably 20 times, or more. It still compels me.
What is the story behind this photo?
I took it on the way down the Africa Coast. It was just a two day run; Durban to Port Elizabeth.
Should be easy but we knew there was a southerly coming, the forecast said so. They said it was going to be 10 to 20 knots out of the south, but for only half a day, and then the northerly would fill. We felt we could handle that and we needed to get south, so we left.
But the southerly hit harder than predicted; 25 to 30 knots and more. And after half a day it was still blowing solidly.This was not what the forecast said.
Still, it wasn’t so bad. After all, this was Wings’ weather, we could beat into 25 knots. And the waves, while big, were manageable. We kept on.
And I took the photo.
But in the back of my mind there was the Agulhas Current to think about. In a southerly the Agulhas Current runs against the wind and the waves can mean trouble; they can get big. This was what had been spooking us about the African coast for a couple of years: rogue waves, ship killers, it gave Judy nightmares as far back as Thailand. Now it could be happening to us. I couldn’t chance it.
We tuned into the weather service. They warned of “abnormal” waves.
That did it, we hadn't seen any "abnormal waves" but it only would take one. Now it was time to be scared.
Next piece of wisdom: When the wind runs against the current, get inshore. We eased sheets and headed for the beach.
About two miles off the coast we got out of the current. It was still rough but the danger of wind against current was over.
We turned back to the south.
In a few hours the wind switched and we got our northerly.
And we breathed a big sigh of relief.
So what do I see when I look at this photo? I see the bow headed for the sky as we climb over the next big wave which looks like a mountain peak off to starboard. I see the #4 jib, close hauled, filled and pulling and a reefed main. I see seven turns on the primary winch and a double handle silhouetted against the spray and foam, standing ready.
I see the sea, the boat and the sky. I see big power, big waves, and big danger. I see all of this and I remember. And I remember that we got through it and that is what counts.
Until the next time.
Click here to see the other photos from that trip.
Click here to read the original story.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Fortaleza, Brazil