Storm in the Baltic. August 18, 2005
A beautiful summer day ends in hell. In the center is a small Etap. Its skipper Thomas Matuszek describes the experience. Turning on the small computer on the morning of August 8, 2005 was my daily routine after breakfast on camping days. The German meteorological service predicted 5 to 6 points northwest until 24:00 until noon the next day, with a likely increase to 7 points. Excellent for the hard 120 mile drive from Polish Hel to Klaipeda in Lithuania. The entire coast on the way is almost inaccessible, there is no harbor or places of refuge, and suitable weather was very necessary.on the.
I knew my 7 year old Etap-30 very well and the sailing conditions were not terrible for my Tenagra. Re-query forecast: no storm warnings for this sea area. At 10 o'clock I made a record of the weather in the logbook, at 12 - a re-entry. I left the harbor under sail at 20:00. After 20:00, the next morning at about 8:00, I could be in Klaipeda.
The promised wind was absent, the wind was blowing at most from 3 to 4 points. Atmospheric pressure did not change and was 1009 hPa. At 6 pm I decided to replace the self-laying staysail with a slightly larger 110% genoa. "Tenagra" went with a fixed tiller as if on rails. I felt hungry and began to cook a thick vegetable soup. Shortly before dark, the food was ready. I enjoyed soup in the cockpit at a sensational sunset. The barograph drew a straight line. Great sailing in the dark night. At midnight, the wind freshened slightly, the barometer dropped by 1 hPbut. I prudently took one reef on the grotto. Suddenly I saw on the horizon for only one second a vault that suddenly reminded me of a whale's hump, after a short time - the second time. But it wasn't whales, of course, it was waves. An hour later the wind increased to 6 points, and after half an hour I radically reduced the area of u200bu200bthe sails. Atmospheric pressure continued to fall. The horizon was completely covered with humps of whales. At 3 o'clock it began to rain. I removed the mainsail completely and twirled the genoa, leaving a small handkerchief. At 6 o'clock I wrote down the coordinates in the logbook.
I didn't know that this would be my last record for a long time. The excitement was getting tougher, the jumps of my sailboat were more dangerous. With the dawn, I had to learn the full force of the storm: the crests of the wave, which I had never seen before, the rushing fragments of clouds, the lashing rain - it became clear to me that I had to experience now what I had known until now only from books: sailing in heavy weather. I decided to spin the genoa all the way and set up the storm staysail. However, as soon as I tried to move the furling rail, something clicked, and parts of the furling fell apart.crawl on the sides. Immediately the sail was fully unfolded. I unraveled the sheets and halyard in the hope of tearing the sail out of the stay pier and putting it away. Having fixed the safety rope, I crawled to the nose, however, it was too late - it was jammed at half the height! With wild force I pulled out the sail, fearing breakage. I had no choice but to give the tack angle of the staysail to free it from the wind load. As a result, the fabric began to rinse and wrap around the left shroud. Horror seized me, I hurried to the tiller and tried to lie on a different course, hto release the staysail, and he could fly away freely. But his headboard began to slowly slide up the stay, and after a few minutes wedged firmly on the masthead. Now I could not leave the tiller. On the one hand, I had to make sure that the sail did not wrap around the mast, on the other hand, I did not expose the side of the sailboat to the impact of the waves.
I tried to get in and out of the wave the way the books and magazines recommended. Unfortunately, the waves were not regular, as described in classical literature. quite often they were very short and steep. I was glad they didn't pierce the board. Waves, foam crests, rain made it difficult to breathe. In fact, such a mixture of water and air was created that it was necessary to choose the time to breathe. In addition, the water did not drain quickly enough from the cockpit: two drain pipes were not enough. Hour after hour I fought the raging sea forprivate life. I told myself over and over again, "This storm can't go on for too long. You can still hold out for a few hours!"
My fingers turned blue, my whole body ached, and I started to freeze. It was no longer possible to steer the ship. Meanwhile, it was already 4 p.m. I had been flying the Tenagra in stormy conditions for 10 hours. According to the plan 8 hours ago I should have been in Klaipeda. I hauled two cables from the forepeak, ran them through the pulleys from the tiller to the foot rails, to the winches, then to the deckhouse access hatch. Now I could steer with some protection from the water shower. Then I looked at the anemometer and froze in fear: 56 knots, wind force 11! Wet through and through, I stood at the gangway. Convulsively clinging to the wireI had just eaten steering ropes, I looked at the raging sea in bewilderment. Again and again thoughts flashed through my head: 56 knots, no storm warnings, why no warnings? And: it's just the Baltic Sea! Meanwhile, with the rudder fixed, the ship became stable on the course - I fixed the cables on the clew winches.
Decided to go down to the cabin. The impression of desolation. Now mattresses, nautical charts, sailing directions and everything that was fixed in the vicinity of the chart table with a rubber strap, floated inside. On the payolas inside, a mixture of vegetable soup and sea water was created. The saucepan flew off the stove onto the chart table, where my open computer stood, on which I had previously marked my location. The computer could not withstand the attack of the soup. I fell into despair. No computer navigation, no emails, no weather charts. Now I have tomake a pad on a paper chart that floated on the mattress and was not as wet as the logbook. Already at the first attempt to put the position on the map, I was thrown over the salon table to the port side so that I lay there for a second, not realizing where I found myself. I'm surprised I didn't break anything.
I managed to map my position only on the third attempt. It turned out that he was 25 miles from Klaipeda. However, joy and fear were equalized. I still remembered the text of the manual for entering the port: "During stormy westerly winds, heavy seas prevail in the mouth area, and entry is not recommended." How should I have done? I didn't know the harbor and could by no means make a frivolous choice. I called the port of Klaipeda by radio on channel 9. No answer. Again and again I called the port - no answer. I felt the weather was getting worse, the speedwinds exceeded 50 knots, and the sailboat raced with a torn flying sail through the waves at a speed of 7 knots. This meant that in three hours, while maintaining my course, I would run ashore if I flew through the harbor and could not enter it. There was only one solution: to turn into the sea, as soon as possible. This decision was contrary to all my plans and desires to go to the shelter, but there was no alternative.
The flooring in the cabin was slippery, as if smeared with liquid soap. I found another dry mattress and fixed it to the boards. This made moving around the cabin somewhat easier. But I was unable to turn the ship around. Again and again I tried to turn the sailboat around, but nothing worked. As soon as the sailboat was brought to leeward, there was not enough progress, and she again fell off. The waves followed each other so often that the sailboat did not have time to turn. I was forced to start the engine. Nothing happened to him. The first stormy night began. My decision remains unchanged: somehowto return to Hel. There was no choice left. But for this it was necessary to try to lie on another tack, if you can call it that. The motor ran continuously. Despite my raincoat, I was soaked to the marrow. One had only to put on something dry, as it immediately got wet again. And instead of getting dressed, I completely undressed when I went on deck. Sometime at night I should have approached the Russian frontier and would have to turn around. It was impossible to get to Hel on a direct course from my new location without crossing the borders of Russia. II had to make a turn again. Perhaps the Russian border guards would be able to allow me to violate the ban in view of such stormy weather. But these are all assumptions and I did not want to overcome additional difficulties. My strength was running out, I just wanted to rest, cover myself with a blanket and sleep.
I had never suffered from seasickness, but now it was different. I stopped the engine - the tank was almost empty. And he sent a radio message: "drifting under the spars with coordinates 55 ° 15" N, 20 ° 10 "E, heading 030, speed 4.5 knots." I set my alarm for 20 minutes and wrapped myself in a damp blanket on the aft berth, lying on my side. However, as soon as I relaxed a little, as much as possible, something croaked in the radio. I jumped as much as possible. It was croaking at the radio station! I immediately jumped up and rushed to the ladder. Some spoke Russian or Polish. EtcThe reception was bad, moreover a deafening noise: upstairs. The roar of the wind, the roaring sea, blows to the hull, crackling. Suddenly, a clear female voice in accent-free English, "I'm reporting another person in the water. Is this person wearing a life jacket?" The radio was silent. My nerves were tense to the limit. Then again a woman's voice: "We will send 2 helicopters from Danzig. It will take 45 minutes until they appear in a given area." And a little later: "Unfortunately, we can only send one helicopter. We have another accident here."uh, somewhere a man fell overboard. I looked outside and saw the sea raging. It was extremely difficult to imagine that somewhere in the water someone was fighting for his life. Tears ran down his face. All night I was forced to listen to the radio exchange of rescuers. I was so shocked that I couldn't sleep for a minute. After a few hours, the rescue operation stopped.: "This man died."
It sounded completely businesslike and indifferent. But I could imagine how these rescuers, risking their lives, go to save a person. I was happier, I was healthy, and my ship was strong, reliable and steered. During the night I drifted back to my starting point off the Lithuanian coast. The weather improved slightly with an average wind speed of just over 45 knots, heavy rains and even bigger and steeper waves. Heading back to Hel. However, I do not go without the support of the motor. But the fuel tank is already almost empty. I pulled out of the pantry one of the twoan anister with diesel fuel and pumped an additional 20 liters into the supply tank. I was proud of the work done. Tired and cold, although he had only been on deck once. When I tried to make another entry in the logbook, I heard loud thumps in the bow. I immediately realized that something had happened to the anchor. In a second I was at anchor on deck. The anchor bolt was damaged, as was the safety cable. Now the anchor hung at the 1.5-meter end and hit the hull on each wave. I panicked, now more and get a hole in the korpuse! Hanging over the railing, he began to choose the anchor line, pulling it centimeter by centimeter. With the last of his strength, he lifted him aboard. Right at that moment, a wave came up. If I had not had time to grab the railing, she would have washed me overboard, but the anchor hung overboard again, this time much further. He hit the body again. On the second try, I secured it to the deck again. Passed again...
12 hours later, 48 hours after the start of the voyage, I made an attempt to turn back. The wind has turned. Along the Lithuanian and Latvian coasts there were three harbors to choose from, depending on the duration of the storm: Liepaja, Pavilosta and Ventspils. Suddenly I was catapulted across the cabin. Yet it happened: the sailboat hit the side and turned over. What was still floating below was now glued to the ceiling and to the wall. I had hardly restored some order when the sailboat capsized again. Rodeo continues. I had to get out on deck and determine the size bydecisions. First of all, what about the mast, is the mast in stepchildren? I open the hatch - and a terrible picture of destruction appears to me. The visor of the access hatch, completely torn to pieces, lay in the cockpit. Fuel canisters and Man Overboard equipment are gone. The carriage of the boom-sheet was torn out and hit the board from the outside. But, most importantly, the mast was preserved and gave the impression of being intact. As soon as I was down again, I received another blow and was thrown onto the stove. When trying to resist, he received a deep bleeding wound. Lift instantlyactive radar reflector. Up again and pay attention. But in the wild mixture of rain, waves and bubbling foam, you can't see anything, until suddenly you see a huge, dark gray inscription: BALTIC FERRY LINES, framed by the contours of a huge car ferry, not more than 500 meters away!
He urgently unwound his steering ropes from the winches and turned the tiller. Now the muzzle "only" 36 knots. It was getting harder and harder for me to get the job done. I put in a storm jib that was intended to be installed on the headstay pier. Now he stood on a bare stay and turned out to be too pot-bellied. It was only under this sail that I allowed the Tenagra to proceed. Night fell, the wind blew unabated, the rain lashed, and the waves were tireless in their attempt to capsize the sailboat again. Now I did not resist the circumstances. I couldn't imagine that this pieceorm will ever end. The ammeter indicated that the batteries should be recharged. I did not start the engine in the hope that the diesel would help at some point to enter the harbor. But when this will happen is not clear. The third night came and there was nothing left for me to do. I felt sick even though I hadn't eaten anything since the beginning of the day. I lay down in a wet bunk and plunged into a twilight state. It became clear that the most dangerous part of the voyage had come, the body did not obey me. There was inner peace. The next morning the wind eased slightly. It's dawn. On the map to Liepajait was only 25 miles. The wind was coming from the stern, and the sailboat was gliding through the long, leveling waves towards the harbour. By 10 o'clock I was at the pier. Week "Tenagra" remained uninhabited. My body was so broken that I could only move by crawling.
The beginning of August itself is usually characterized by high pressure, small pressure drops with light winds, blue skies, warm weather, and sometimes a warm thunderstorm. However, last year much was different - the summer ended, so to speak, by mid-July and continued only at the end of August. Meanwhile, an extremely deep cyclone with cold air at an altitude of about 5 km, located over Scandinavia, determined the nature of meteorological phenomena. He sucked in cold air and thereby contributed to the emergence of other pony zones.pressure in the area of the Baltic Sea. The meteorological situation escalated in early August, when the polar cold air traveled a relatively long way from East Germany to Poland and collided with a mass of warm air heading from Russia to Finland. Ideal conditions were created for the emergence of a low-pressure vortex with a large temperature difference. There was more than enough energy. The observed symptoms confirmed the rapid development of the situation. Therefore, a very strong wind was to be expected! So suddenly appearedstorm, but it doesn't come out of the blue. There are prediction models that have calculated the time and place of manifestation. Consequently, during 6 am on August 9, the average wind should have increased from 4-5 points to 6 points with gusts in squalls up to 9 points. On the evening of August 9, according to the forecast, north of the Gulf of Danzig, the wind speed during squalls could reach 60 knots, that is, 12 points! In other words: On the way from Hel to Klaipeda, at the latest, in front of the harbor of Klaipeda, one had to reckon with the possibility of encountering extremely dangerous seas.an expected wave height of 4 meters away from the coast could grow to 6 meters as it approached the coast! The storm cyclone on August 10 slowly moved to the north, began to fill up only after August 13, when it reached the north of the Baltic. Here the temperature difference was much less. The cold air dominating at the height weakened, in connection with which, the strength of the cyclone decreased, and its manifestation disappeared.