Posted on May 3, 2018 by Michael
My 32 foot sloop, Gypsy Moon, lost the headsail halyard when it parted at the top of the mast during a solo sail from the Dominican Republic in the Windward Passage, two days out from Puerto Plata. I was no longer able to keep an upwind heading and began drifting toward Cuba.
I attempted to return to port, but the waves were too high at 8-10 feet with approx. 25-30 knots of wind to make headway. I elected to proceed to Port au Prince in Hait1, approx. 175 miles away. En route, the boat was lifted by a rogue wave, became airborne, and crashed on its beam end. The motor mounts on the inboard diesel shifted and sheared, totaling an old engine and rendering the boat without engine power, with the prop shaft jammed up against the stern tube.
I suffered a mild head injury in the knockdown. The boat was drifting on the open ocean and yawing badly. I activated the EPIRB and was picked up about two hours later by the USCG Cutter Mohawk, which had lost one of its engines in rescuing a Haitian fishing boat and was headed to Gitmo for repairs. They insisted that I had to abandon the boat if I was to accept the rescue. The Gypsy Moon was abandoned at sea, and I made it to Gitmo, where I caught a flight home.
I wrote a book about the voyage, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, and I used the publisher’s advance to buy another (heavier) boat, a 1965 Allied Seawind Ketch.
Words of wisdom
It’s smooth sailing until you get hit with the unexpected. Be prepared!
Thank you note
Thank you ACR!