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Charm - The day we lost Joe. By Lara.

We started the ARC + at 12:45 PM and we lost Joe at 4:03 PM.

It was a good start.

Winds and spirits were high and we made it across the line with the signal. Our speedy catamaran moved to the front of the pack and that was it. We were off to the Cape Verdes!

Everyone started to relax as much as possible with true wind of 25 – 30 and waves of 2+ meters. It was comfortably uncomfortable. Joe and Kent fiddled with trimming the sails and we kept going faster and faster. Tim was remarkably composed and comfortable for his first time at sea in a sailboat.

At some point, we did an accidental gybe and there was a loud snapping sound as the boom slid across and the traveler block broke. Joe looked at it and said he would fix it later.

I went inside for some reason and Tim, Kent, and Joe were out in the cockpit, watching the other boats slip backwards and trimming the sails.

About 5 minutes later, Kent, who was at the helm, said, “Where’s Joe?” I vaguely remembered him heading up on deck but no more than that. I glanced forward, saw no one and saw no open hatches. I watched Kent run up and try to open the hatch where we both seemed to think he had gone. It was locked shut.

At that point, Tim, Kent and I looked backwards to see if we could see anything in the water. There was nothing. I ran inside and shouted Joe’s name and checked both hulls – nothing.

Kent said, “That’s it – we’re rolling up the jib and turning around.” I pushed the Man Overboard button on our new Garmin tracker (thanks Jon!) so we would at least have a reference for the general area if it came to a search.

I was opening the stopper to help roll up the jib and Kent had his finger on the button to start the engines when Joe popped his head out of the hatch. He had shut it and locked it from the inside so he wouldn’t get wet while searching for some spare parts for the traveler. He was somewhat surprised to find us all in a state of panic.

Both Kent and I needed a few hours to recover from the stress. Tim said that during the heat of the search, he found that he suddenly remembered hearing a splash. I said that it would be just like Joe to not bother to scream – he would just trust that we would rescue him or not.

Thankfully, we didn’t need to do a rescue and we spent the rest of the evening being grateful that everyone was on the boat!

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