Gale force winds, 10-foot swells challenge four from L.A. during Great Barrier Reef ‘cruise’
August, 2000: Hayman Island, and others
MY FAVORITE POSITION: At the helm, during stormy weather, I wear a bulky oilskin for protection from the elements.
AS WE cleared the channel between Hook and Hayman islands in the Whitsundays Group off the northeast Australia coast, the weather deteriorated rapidly. The sky darkened with heavy clouds portending rain. Visibility dropped as the light dimmed. The wind picked up to about 25 knots (almost 30 mph) from the southeast.
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Jim Pekkala, 42, of Van Nuys was asleep on the foredeck of Scallywag, the 41-foot Sunsail Oceanis I was skippering. Hollywood residents John Lammi, 50, and Rob Howard-Flanders, 43, were both below in the saloon. I was the only one on watch, a major mistake.