Discussing heavy weather in blue water

Published on September 22nd, 2022

“What’s the joke about heavy weather? You know it when you see it.”

Figure 8 singlehander Randall Reeves drew laughs from the Cruising Club of America (CCA) sailors attending the forum “Heavy Weather Sailing: Bluewater Perspectives” as part of the CCA’s centennial celebration on September 14 in Newport, Rhode Island.

He joined four other heavy hitters who know a thing or three about heavy weather—renowned solo racer Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, National Sailing Hall of Fame nominee Rich Wilson, veteran high-latitude expedition sailor Steve Brown, and panel moderator and esteemed navigator W. Frank Bohlen—all there to describe their experiences and share what they have learned.

And while it may be a bit of gallows humor to joke about winds, seas, and situations that most of us hope never to see in our sailing lives, it’s a great illustration of what all agreed are vital attributes any sailor should bring the challenge of heavy weather sailing—a positive attitude, and a kind of joy and satisfaction in working the problem.

“If you think you can get through it, you can get through it,” said Reeves, who in 2019 completed his Figure 8 voyage, singlehanded 40,000 nautical miles around the Antarctic and North American continents, on his 45-foot aluminum sloop, Mōli.

“I am very happy each time I find a solution,” said Van Den Heede, a six-time solo circumnavigator and 2019 CCA Bluewater Medal winner, of the adaptability needed when the unexpected happens or a forecast presents a navigational challenge. “If you like adventure, you like to solve problems. If you have no problems, you are watching TV, so, no problem.” – Full report

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