It’s Not a Vacation

This five day passage, which turned into eight days, deserves its own separate blog entry. A story of another crazy Maddox adventure.

Leaving Ecuador, we started our passage with crossing the equator for the second time on our trip. It was my fourth time crossing it. This time Bryan was not sick and lying horizontally. The winds were light and the seas were with us. 

The next day, was when the weather started to kick up. Dad, Mei Mei, and I were scrubbing the decks. I had gotten demoted or promoted depending on how you look at it, to the scrub brush with the handle, because the last time I decided to scrub the decks I was on my knees cleaning until my knees were raw. Afterwards, a bird landed on our deck. Mei Mei named him Twiggy. We all thought it was cute. Then all the birds got word and we were surrounded by birds who wanted to hitch a ride. For a while, it was Dad with the scrub brush versus the birds. We all had a good laugh. Then we saw storm clouds in front of the boat. We thought it might be a thunderstorm. We turned our radar on and the clouds came up as red which is bad. So we ran around closing hatches and portals. We all put on life jackets and huddled together in the cockpit waiting. Luckily there was no lighting, but there was rain. It poured rain on us as the waves grew bigger. Suddenly there was a snap! The boom vang snapped off. Dad went on the deck and Mom found the back-up vang. I was shaking from being soaking wet and I prayed that Dad wouldn’t slip on the wet decks. We fixed it! The storm lasted for an hour and a half. No one panicked and soon a blue sky opened up and we were in the clear. We would almost run into three more storms after the first one.   

One morning I came up on deck to find the dinghy was hanging by one hinge. In rolling waves, Dad and Mei Mei worked very hard to re-attach it to the boat. 

The next morning, I was woken up by the sound of rattling underneath the boat. I jumped on deck to find out that a net got stuck in the propeller. Dad went in to see if he could get the net off which it came off, but we must have hit something hard. Dad announced that we no longer can use the motor. Good thing we have sails. Oh we were also taking in water. To keep my mind off of things I played a game with Bryan. We counted the waves a.k.a. speed bumps, because whenever they crash into us they slow us down. Dad tried to call the Panama Coast Guard on the satellite phone, but couldn’t get them. The American Coast Guard called us. As Dad talked to an officer I admittedly transferred back to my six year old self. A flash back of when Red Thread, our last boat, on the rocks and Dad calling in a mayday, echoed through my mind. I could feel anxiety building down in my stomach. The officer told Dad to check in every hour and I would keep reminding Dad to call. There was a noise that made our head turn to the stern of the boat. I thought it was the dinghy again. Instead the black engine to the dinghy was no longer there. It had some how come off and is now 9,000 feet down underwater. We all couldn’t help but laugh a bit. That engine had been plaguing us for awhile and now it was gone. We got in contact with the Panamanian Coast Guard, who only asked for our position over and over. Our hopes of getting towed before nightfall were low. Looks like Dad will be staying up 24 hours. After dinner, I told Bryan stories of a gingerbread man and a boy climbing up a beanstalk. It helped get my mind calm before bed. The wind and the waves decreased as the sun went down. I got in my pjs and tried to get some sleep before it was my shift to keep Dad up. Sadly, I didn’t get a wink of sleep because this thing called adrenaline was coursing through my veins. Also a woman on channel 16 forgot to get off of the radio and I could hear a movie opening in the background. I got up and went back on deck. A voice on the radio called us. It was a CP-3 airplane that the American Coast Guard sent to find us. They did a flight over us. That definitely made us all smile and a spark of hope was relighted. I am truly grateful to be American. They circled around us to keep an eye on us. They helped us get in contact with the Panamanian Coast Guard. We were a DIW, Dead In the Water without any wind. There were a pair of fishing boats who we were floating towards us. Dad called them over the radio but they didn’t respond and didn’t move. I took the helm and steered the best I could around them.  Very considerate people, I thought sarcastically! 

1 a.m. pitch black and none of us have gone to bed. Even Bryan didn’t want to miss the action. The aircraft informed us there is a Panamanian Coast Guard boat heading our way. It would take an hour. We had to say farewell to the CP-3. When they were gone things got more fun, the wind began to kick up.  Where there are high winds there are even bigger waves. The boat started sailing at 7 to 8 knots. We were ripping and those darn speed bumps were in our way. The wind was blowing so hard the port genoa sheet came off the winch. The Genoa began to flop in the wind. I jumped up and grabbed the sheet. I wrapped it back on to the winch and brought in the sail. The adrenaline was pumping! The wind was reaching up to 20 knots making the boat heel. It felt like with any more wind the boat would flip over, but that’s ridiculous. Right? I became worried. I asked Dad if we could bring in the Genoa and use the cutter. That’s what we did. Why did the cutter not come out all the way? There was something around it. Dad went up on the bow to check it out. He got soaked as the bow crashed into waves. I prayed he wouldn’t go in. How would we get him back on the boat in the middle of night? He had to cut the line which turned out to be the starboard genoa sheet. Suddenly, the once furled genoa unfurled and was flopping about and the port sheet for it was not on the winch. I ran for the sheet. It was flapping out of control. I could not get control of it. I was getting rope burn but there was no time to pay attention to that. Dad stepped in and we got the sail under control. Looking back now I should not let my worrying get the best of me. I know better to not panic because panicking doesn’t help anyone or anything. Afterward, I was numb from that point forward. 

2 a.m.  The Panamanian Coast Guard radioed us and said they were 15 minutes away. We were ecstatic! I helped Dad bring in the main sail which also had its problems. I decided to go downstairs. The stairs were covered in salt water from the waves crashing into the cockpit. I took one step and next thing I know I was trying to grab something to stop me from falling down. Six steps I fell down and I wound up in the child’s position. Everything stopped. 

“Are you okay Linzi?” Dad and Mom asked me. Tears are dying to escape. I get myself up. I felt pain near my arm and my ribs. 

“I”m alright.” I answer them. I go to the bathroom by myself. My body is burning and I let tears fall, but not for long. I bit my lip to back into the chaos. Mom gets me ice to put on my bruises. I am now demoted to the main salon. I listen as the Panamanian Coast Guard gets ropes to us. I pray that we get hooked up to them safely. That’s all I could do. Dad got us attached to the other boat. The adrenaline was wearing off. I could now sleep. I laid down where I was sitting and didn’t get up until the sun was up.

SeaQuil on her final tow into Panama City

I know people who love scary movies. I ask them why and they reply “for the adrenaline”. I dislike scary movies and they ask me why. I reply because I know what true adrenaline feels like. 

2 thoughts on “It’s Not a Vacation”

  1. That is a detailed and enlightening blog. I have been in rough seas, not with children though. What a crazy good way to grow up. Love the parts where you detail how quick thinking you and the crew are. Keep up the blogs.

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