I immediately came up when Barry said he had lost steerage. I lifted the port aft lazarette hatch and saw the rudder post swaying back and forth; it was no longer attached at the top bearing. I could see the beautiful turquoise water next to it. It was tearing the fiberglass all around it as it was swaying in all directions. I immediately removed the two jerry cans from there hoping that with less weight it would lift the stern up and stop the water from coming in. The whole base was under water. I went to the starboard lazarette and grabbed the emergency tiller (while doing so, I saw that the auto pilot had been torn apart and was hanging). There were the Type III lifejackets that I threw into the cockpit. I tried to hold the rudder post straight up so to put the emergency tiller into it with my hands, but the opening on top was huge, there was no lever, and the force that kept taking the post back and forth was too much for me. That’s when my hand got crushed against the black cockpit drains pipes and the rudder post. I asked Barry to help, Ray was there. He said, let’s put a line around it to control it. I went into the garage and gave him 2 lines, and saw the water inside there already pooling. I grabbed the mainsail cover and gave it to them and said here stuff the hole with this. I gave them another sail bag I found. I reached down and grabbed the manual bilge pump. The handle was at the pump housing inside the locker, and I stepped into the garage to retrieve it. The amount of water was alarming.
Barry started pumping. Then later Mark pumped. They never stopped pumping. I went down below and went straight for the EPIRB. I took it out, and handed it to Judy. I did not activate it yet. I was hopeful. I told her this is the most important thing we have and not to loose it and to keep it with her at all times no matter what. I said if you go down, it goes down with you. Under no circumstance was she to let it go. She stuffed it in her jacket. The water was at the floor boards and started to lift them up. I went to the radio and made a mayday call on VHF 69, then on 16, then back for the ha-ha fleet on 69. The SSB would not turn on. Maybe the tuner back by the rudder had been smashed. I don’t know and didn’t have time to look.
I lifted the chart table and grabbed a piece of the J Notes waterproof paper and wrote down the latitude and longitude and stuffed it in my pocket. I grabbed my VHF, a knife and a Leatherman. I was wearing boots so I took them off – I didn’t want to sink if we went swimming. I saw one of my shoes float by (among other things), I grabbed it and found the other one stuck inside the bilge board upside down. I put my shoes on. I made another mayday call on 16 and on 69. I went into my cabin (the quarter berth) and threw two watertight bags I had into the cockpit. I saw Judy’s handbag under the stairs, threw that to her. I put on my lifejacket. I checked to make sure everybody else still had theirs on. I found my gloves and put them on.
I came back up, Mark was still pumping, Barry and Ray had paused to try to secure the rudder post. They admitted it was futile. I opened the garage and grabbed the ditch bag. It was very heavy because it was sitting in water and completely soaked, I thought they were supposed to float. I made Ray deploy the M.O.M. device which deployed into the water and blew away from the boat. I deployed the Lifesling. I made them toss the 2 diesel jerry cans over board. I told Judy and Ray to detach their tethers from the jack lines, telling them they wouldn’t want to be attached to the boat if we sank. I grabbed the EPIRB from Judy and switched it on. I unrolled the little yellow line from the back and attached a bowline to her lifejacket. She stuffed it back into her jacket. I told the crew I had some bad news. They all turned around to me. I said I will not sugar coat this one, so here it is: the boat is sinking; we cannot contain it, so we will probably have to abandon ship. Be prepared, we will not go into the liferaft until we have to.