Man overboard-Captain! | Chris Bertish | Adventure Speaker
Man overboard-Captain! | Chris Bertish | Adventure Speaker
Push through the bad to get to good / Shifting spaces / Challenges of the Pacific / Don’t get run over / Injuries / Warnings / Water struggles & just Figuring it out then Man Overboard!
Over the last 12 days, I’ve traveled just over 400 Nautical miles SW. I’ve passed by the US Channel Islands, crossed the border into Mexico, and I’ve been battling to try to get as far West as I can instead of just being pushed South by the relentless NW winds.
I’ve seen ocean pollution--plastic, or other UFOs (unidentified floating objects) almost daily.
Water Temp in the last 12 days has increased from 12.5 degrees to now 17.4 degrees Celsius.
Less sea creature spotting's than the first week. A couple more porpoises and seals, but no more whales, as I move outside of their migration route.
It’s definitely been the toughest 2 weeks I’ve experienced on the ocean as a consistent period.. while standup paddling the Atlantic I had many intense periods, but never for such a long duration.
Straight from the 1st day till today, there have only been 36hrs of wind under 15knts when I can try and deal with everything needed—fixing everything that breaks--including yourself, trying to make water, get enough sleep/nutrition/hydration, manage cuts and injuries from the intense periods, and get all systems working and back up online again.. or fall back onto the backups secondary systems…
That’s where we’re at.. and it’s been cold & wet. Seriously cold and wet! THE ENTIRE TWO WEEKS! Coupled with 20-30knts of wind in the wrong direction.
Not at all like the Atlantic, where it was a soft transition from mild weather into more hardcore conditions over time.. Leaving from Santa Cruz and going straight into 20knts of super cold wind and water, there’s no soft transition, just Bam! Straight into the worst of it for 2 weeks straight!
If I was on my past Impifish craft and trying to standup paddle from Sant Cruz using my old systems, I wouldn’t have made it through the first 24hrs.. this is just a whole other level.
I have never experience thick fog more than 50nm offshore before, but I’ve been in it for at least 10 of the last 14 days, all day/night. It makes things even colder, wetter, damper—and even more importantly, your systems don’t charge through solar. I’ve only had 2 x 12hour periods where it’s been light enough to run these systems. Intense.. 12-14hr shifts of winging during the day on top of weather & routing updates/ hydration/ nutrition/ navigation/ hourly checks on everything/ sleeping during the night.
But as I always say, just focus on what’s in front you, head down, follow the process, grind it out, & push through the bad to get to the good!
When the weather is so intense, as it has been, it’s easy to break things—systems and yourself—as everything is under a huge load, with waves breaking over and around me all the time.. but I’m learning to take the lessons and make improvements as I go, finding a way to make it work!
I’ve battled to make water in the fog, as it seems my watermaker will only run properly when my batteries are at 13.5V (like 95% charge), which hardly ever happens—especially in the Fog!
Yesterday, I nearly got run over by a supertanker that came up behind me and wouldn’t respond on Radio to change course until less than a mile away from me! Super stressful, when they pass within 300-400yards of you!
2 days of 25-30knts incoming. Gladiators ready!
Got ready physically & mentally, prepped all of my gear, the craft, to be storm ready.
In the first day the waves got big quick, and I was battling to hold on and handle my 4.5M wing while standing and getting knocked sideways by waves for 12hrs a day and constantly being pulled forward by my harness lines, which I’m connected to while standing winging, as I have to hold it up.. not like a windsurfer or yacht where you have a mast.. I actually physically am holding it up ALL THE time throughout the day…
I had one bad fall today, backwards onto the deck where I hit the floor hard. My head just missed the satellite dish dome.. could have been knocked out pretty easily!
At the same time when I fell I pulled my calf muscle trying to control the fall.. which scared me a little. I knew that if that happened I would be in big trouble as I have to stand all day, shifting off my back left calf all the time!
Learning- note self again.. fall Forward!
Got through the first day on the 10th. The 11th was a little worse, but during the day before I had learnt a new trick—to lock my one foot in the corner outside of the cabin and stand on the parachute anchor bag to give me more elevation and control when going across the rough conditions…
Thought I was clever for the first 25 mins until I got hit by a big rogue sidewinder wave – the craft went over sideways. I saw it coming and braced for impact, still hooked in with one hand and grabbing the console of the craft as she turned 90 degrees over to the conditions
My foot locked into the side of the cabin nearly didn’t release in time, meaning I nearly snapped my ankle as the craft went over.. the Wing engaged as we went over, pulling me with it as I was still hooked in and couldn’t clip out.. I tried grabbing for my knife while trying to unclip at the same time.. can’t do it one handed to open the knife..
The craft rights itself, and I’m in the water holding on the side now. Dragging next to it, still hooked in. Manage to finally hook out and get back onboard!
Huge wake up call.. many lessons learned.. immediately got up, collected everything and got all back on track. Disconnected the Wing so I could get my breath/ assess damage/ figure out what I could change/implement immediately.. ankle was pretty sore, but could have broken it! Ok, lesson--don’t hook in to keep balance when wind is above 15knts. Check!
Couldn’t get my blade out on my knife to cut harness line, so I moved my back deck knife which is always open and serrated, to the deck front console to use it to pull and cut with one hand if needed in the future..
Also changed the angle of my harness to try to make unclipping easier!
Note to self- don’t break ankle, that would be a Expedition-ender right there. As Ducktape won’t fix that!
A little more care toward safety & fatigue needs to be taken in these conditions I remind myself constantly, especially when overpowered by my wing.
Decision taken from this is that the in the next set of stormy conditions like this, I bring out my smallest Armstrong wing I have - the mini 2.5M, which I call my “Storm wing,” even if it means I go at half the speed. It’s not just about speed - it’s about safety and control first and getting to your destination in one piece!
All lessons & improvements implemented with immediate effect!
The end. Period.
If you want to get to the good, you have to get through and survive the bad first .. So, main focus--survive the bad..
The Wind is meant to be much lighter tomorrow- 12th June, so I need to move forward.. better, wiser, stronger, better prepared!
In the famous words of Buzz Lightyear (Star-ranger)- To infinity and beyond..
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