The winds were blowing a steady 30 knots off our port bow. The seas had increased to 10 feet, and they were square shaped, blown toward us against the current and breaking on the tops of large ocean swells. Every once in a while there would be nothing but 20 feet of empty air below the forward sections of our 135,000-pound Fleming 65, and we would hit the ice-cold seas below us with a bone-jarring blow.
Holding on next to me in the pilothouse was Tony Fleming, the man responsible for designing and building these highly regarded yachts. “Well, this is exactly why we build them the way we do,” he said calmly in his understated British sort of way. We were in the North Atlantic, halfway between the Faroe Islands and Iceland, and as Fleming described it, “Water was coming through the bow chocks and striking the windshield like a fire hose. These were probably the worst conditions we have ever experienced during all our thousands of miles of cruising on Venture I and II.”
We were headed to Vestmannaeyjar in the Westman Islands, located 10 miles off the southern coast of Iceland aboard Fleming’s personal boat. Slowing to 7½ knots, we endured another 12 hours of foul conditions before finding protection in the lee of the Westman archipelago. A quick survey found only a broken wineglass and bottle of beer. While we had been uncomfortable, we always had faith in our little ship.