For a sailor being awash has different implications than just wet feet.
Think about green water washing over the deck and into cabin spaces. The crew is desperately reefing sail and looking windward or towards the next large wave. You’ve seen it in the movies, but the reality is more than visual; it’s visceral – it gets to you in the center of your being. I saw one person once give up and go below to wait for fate, and I froze on a stay, unable to take my eyes off the water.
The boat is heeling over. The skipper is struggling to heave to as a way to stop the continual toss. Someone aft is rigging a large canvas bucket on a line to throw out as a sea anchor.
If everyone knows what they are doing, the boat is heaved to, a positioning of the sails that balances the pressure of the wind and kills the boat’s movement. So there you sit, going nowhere in the middle of a green wet hell.
If the sea anchor gets deployed, its drag at the end of its line further stabilizes the boat, and now you can hear the pumps straining. Then, finally, the skipper gets your hands off the shroud and gets you bailing water.
Nobody is comfortable or happy, but you aren’t going to drown right away. You begin to wonder if you can get the stove set up and going for coffee.