Why wouldn’t a small boat take you across the world’s second-largest ocean? Well, the question a answers itself. The Atlantic spans over 106.5 million square kilometers and holds 29 percent of the Earth’s water surface area. Needless to say, it’s not only a foolhardy task but also perilous.
It can be daunting to even think about crossing the Atlantic on a sturdy 37 feet boat, let alone a small wooden one. Despite the possibility of being ripped into shreds by the monstrous waves, there are several other hazards you’d have to face if you try to cross the Atlantic.
So, for your own well-being, I recommend you read this article before you decide to go on this unnerving adventure. We have provided all the potential and apparent dangers of the sea that is sure to change your mind.
Most of these hazards have taken a toll on larger ships trying to cross this ocean, so you can imagine what it can do to your tiny ride.
Dangers Of The Ocean
The ocean is a cruel mistress! Whether you have ever sailed across the seas or not, we all know how lethal the journey can be. If you are still hell-bent on taking the risk, these safety hazards will make you realize how foolish it can be to venture on a small boat. The following includes the dangers sailors faced on their journey to cross the Atlantic.
It also includes certain precautions that the sailors had taken to minimize the repercussions. Keep in mind, though; these were expert sailors traveling in ships built to withstand such harsh conditions.
Even then, they only somehow managed to avoid meeting the grim reaper! It will make you realize that a small boat doesn’t even stand a chance for this crazy feat.
The Atlantic, like any other ocean, is prone to harsh climates during most of the months. Icebergs are said to form during any time of the year unpredictably. This adds to the already imminent dangers as it can bring consequences of titanic proportions!
Moreover, hurricanes are a regular thing during different times in different regions. Even if you choose the perfect time of the year to sail, you can be facing another calamity.
Squalls are also a common thing to witness on Atlantic voyages. Squalls are single large clouds that bring fast winds and heavy rain with them. These are incredibly unpredictable as they can form due to sudden climatic changes.
Unlike the hurricanes, they can’t be predicted and sailed past. It’s crucial to choose the proper sail settings during the storm. The harsh, unpredictable winds are capable of making the boat sail faster than you can control.
The crushing waves won’t make things any easier. To avoid not steering off the designated track, it’s recommended to sail with as little sail as possible. Even then, there is no guarantee the mast won’t break under the pressure of the winds and waves.
Even large boats are required to lower the sails as fast as possible during sudden squalls. Otherwise, it won’t take long to get lost in the Atlantic. If you can’t lower the sails in time, it can be ripped apart by the unrelenting wind.
Even without any violent tempests, the waves can be unrelenting in the Atlantic. Immense waves tend to form without any former signs and can sway even the largest boats.
Most ships steer through the waves during a storm by meeting the waves head-on. The steer through using the Genoa, but this causes the boat to go off track. This is not much of a problem with large ships as they can easily navigate their way back to the course.
However, a small wooden boat doesn’t have the proper navigation system, and you can easily get lost, considering you survived the nerve-wracking waves. Without a proper steering wheel, it will be impossible to ride the waves. Even if you had one, waves during thunderstorms are capable of crushing your wooden boat to pieces.
Wooden boats are more susceptible to lightning than any other. A single strike during a thunderstorm can cause it to catch fire. Plastic boats face similar risks and have copper wiring in the hull.
The wire is connected to the keel using a large plate. This is to keep both insulated. It’s an effective precaution, but lightning strikes often tend to blow away the keel, making the copper wiring pointless.
During lightning storms, it’s recommended to turn on autopilot and take shelter below deck. It’s best to stay undercover until the storm passes. Small wooden boats neither have a lower deck for shelter nor an autopilot system. You would be on your own, susceptible to lightning, and at the mercy of the ocean.
We all know that the mast is an integral part of the boat. Without the mast, you would just be stranded in the middle of the ocean. Another issue is that you can be knocked overboard by a sudden jerk of the mast.
These can happen due to vicious winds and waves during storms. There is not much you can do if your mast is broken. Without it, the boat is handicapped and can only wobble aimlessly in the middle of the Atlantic.
Some ships contain floor-mounted masts these days. This makes it less likely for the mast to break. You would need a spacious lower deck for that which a small wooden boat does not have.
Tsunamis are caused by underwater volcanic eruptions, which are impossible to predict in the Atlantic. These are large waves of immense proportions that can topple huge ships within a matter of seconds. Some sailors have reported they have faced this anomaly and survived.
They said it turned their ship upside down at 360 degrees. Even if your boat doesn’t capsize instantly, the hull or the mast usually takes massive damage. Wooden boats don’t stand a chance against them.
The Atlantic, just like any other ocean, is the home to this mysterious behemoth. They are undoubtedly the world’s largest mammals and can potentially swallow an entire boat. Most ships that sail the Atlantic are equipped with sonars that indicate the presence of any mammals nearby.
Although whales rarely surface, you will see more of them showcasing their enormous size the further you sail across the Atlantic. There is no way to ensure what intentions they have.
If you ever encounter a whale beside your boat, then rising up from underneath your boat, there is nothing you can do but pray. One single bump of this giant mammal’s body can destroy the hull and leave you sinking. In such cases, the only thing sailors do is go for the rafters.
Unfortunately, a wooden boat will be much similar to the rafters which the whales can easily consume within the blink of an eye.
Boats traveling in the Atlantic can often collide with large freighters. It requires at least one person to watch at all times. Such unfortunate accidents usually happen during the night when most of the boat crew is drowsy.
Sailors are obligated to take necessary precautions to steer away from any large boats as some of them can easily run over their smaller boats. Some ships are equipped with built-in radar that warns the crew of any nearby boats. It is the best safety measure to avoid unwanted collisions.
Again, a small wooden boat doesn’t have this feature either. You would face more risks of being run over without even a warning.
What To Do In Case Of Sinking?
To help you survive in terms of a disaster, you need to take certain precautions beforehand. It’s recommended to have a rafter at your disposal. Release the rafter as soon as your boat starts sinking. You should have a gearbox full of the items necessary for survival at sea.
It is best to carry some dry food and assortments, a watermaker, sunblock to protect your skin, a knife, and some flares for signaling any nearby freighters. You must also carry a first aid kit to tend to any wounds you might suffer.
Don’t enter the raft unless you’re absolutely certain the boat is going to sink. Don’t waste your flares for a boat that’s well away. They probably won’t even notice it. Wait for it to come closer so you can make it count.
Be patient with the food and ration it properly; you might be stranded for months on end, so ration accordingly. Keep an eye out for any rescue team or land.
With all the factors in mind, it’s safe to say that you should never try to venture across the Atlantic on a small wooden boat. Even large ships have faced daunting challenges trying to cross this ocean.
I hope this article has convinced you to avoid taking such a foolish step. And if you decide to sail in a proper ship, make sure you have a full crew and take all the necessary precautions.