A must read for anyone considering blue water cruising. This story is a real page turner. In 1994 a massive, hurricane strength storm hit the South Pacific, which lasted for nearly four days. This storm is known as 'Queen's Birthday' and 'Pacific Fastnet', and hit an area north of New Zealand.
The story of the ’Queen’s Birthday Storm’
A group of sailors were making a 1000 mile voyage from New Zealand to Tonga, and the author was initially scheduled to accompany this fleet, but the demands of his business kept him tied to New Zealand.
Boats were battered by fierce winds and capsized by seas towering well over 50 feet high. Equipment was ripped loose, and water penetrated every weak point. Masts collapsed, rudders broke, and sailors lost steering control when they needed it most. The crews coped as best they could with injury, fear, exhaustion, and illness. Their electronic calls for help were picked up by satellites and radio operators, who initiated a massive air and sea search. This is the story of heroic rescues, human endurance, and tragic loss.
The author, Tony Farrington, tells this story through the insights of three groups of people: a group of sailors from 10 different yachts, rescue coordinators on shore, and the rescuers who attempted to save the lives of those in real peril.
Farrington himself was aboard his yacht, but he was protected in a harbor in New Zealand. He listened to high-frequency radio conversations between the sailors and rescue coordinators, and this book reveals the exact conversations that took place in transcript fashion.
Rescuers included the Royal New Zealand Navy and Air Force, the French Navy, as well as fishing boats and freighters already on the open seas. This rescue operation was one of the biggest ever seen in the South Pacific.
The survivors told their personal accounts of their experiences to the author, and the books chapters are mini novels focusing on each persons affair with the sea.
The author does his best to explain the sea conditions to the non-sailor. The book contains the Beaufort Scale of Wind Forces, which describes knots as wind speed and describes its effect on the sea.
The centre of the book contains 20 actual black and white photographs of the rough seas and rescue operations. It also has numerous meteorological maps showing the positions of each yacht in relation to New Zealand and Tonga, as well as what areas the storm hit in relation to their locations.
If you are a blue water cruiser, or even thinking of embarking on such an adventure, this book can give you some amazing insight on possible dangers, and how to handle them. The summary at the end lists each crews thoughts on gear they felt was essential to such a trip, how they would shore up their vessels for any future cruises, and what supplies they carried with them that essentially saved their lives.
If you can't find this book at your local marine bookstore, you can purchase it online by http://books.google.com.au/books?id=RGFI8BIneyQC&q=!clicking_here