Good evening, everyone, I hope your day has been better than mine…
It was a pretty good ride last night, making good progress and enjoying the downwind run.
The wind started picking up after sunrise but nothing our of the ordinary: a cold front was expected so I decided to give the small asymmetric another hour and furl it in. The wind was 17-18 knots but the sea had built up some from the NW and every once in a while we would slide down a wave and the sail would get dowsed and filled up again. I‘ve noticed that whenever a thought crosses my mind and I don‘t act upon it immediately, I come to regret it. This time was no exception, unfortunately.
A glide down a wave, a second of flogging and as soon as the sail filled up with a bang, a swishing sound came from the cam cleat of the spinnaker halyard and two instants later the sail was under the boat… I normally keep lines under heavy load wrapped around one of the halyard winches as a precaution but I hadn‘t this time – the reef lines seemed more important.
So, all of a sudden the day sprang with activity: heaving to, releasing all but one corner in the hope of retrieving the sail in one piece. The tack was first and the pin of the furler needed some persuasion with a screwdriver because of the tension of the sail being dragged underneath and behind the boat. Sure enough, the screwdriver was the first victim and started its decent to the bottom of the ocean a second after releasing the pin. Next came the halyard, which was slowly winched in with one of the aft winches so I could grab hold of and release the snap-shackle. As soon as I did that and the sail was left attached to the sheets alone, I saw the tear: a vertical gash all the way from the foot to the head. It was split in two! All attempts to bring the sail on board were futile – the speed of the boat and the size of the sail plus the drag, and the immediate proximity to the hydrogen, the rudder, and the windvane pilot made me come to a decision to cut it free. Yeah, it was not a good feeling and I still don‘t feel ok having had to do this.
The weather didn‘t allow for any time to lick my wounds, and the jib came out as the first clouds of the advancing cold front were begining to gather. The wind picked up more, up to steady 20-22, gustung 25. The sea state was getting worse somehow disproportionately to the wind. My estimate is perhaps 4 meters but no one can be sure of the exact wave height so I wouldn‘t bet my life on it. And just as the first downpour started, I saw a ship for the first time in maybe two weeks! Hidden in the rain, so no good visual, but reddish in colour, no AIS and 4 miles to the west. I saw it on radar only after I switched over to manual tuning – the automatic settings almost totally blocked its echo out together with the rain! So, folks, don‘t ever be overly reliant on electronics: the eyes often do a better job.
The front passed over, the windshift to the SW came, and we barged forward beam-reaching in the following seas. And as I finished reefing the main and turned my sight to the stern, I watched with total disbelief how one of my trysails, having been securely tied to the life-raft, slid between the life-lines, bag and all, and without saying good bye departed from the boat!!! One of my own knots, hidden from view by the sail, had come undone! For a moment, I thought about hitting the Man Overboard button and turn back. Then I looked at the wind speed, the clouds, the rain, the waves…and just inhaled deeply, exhaled, inhaled again – and accepted the sacrifice. It‘s just sails. It‘s not me back there in the water. There‘s always worse.
The hydrogen deployment line broke next but that was something so minute in comparison that I replaced it without even adding it to the daily list of mishaps.
As I‘m typing this, the sea feels like a washing machine. Good thing I have never been seasick. Otherwise, a lot of food would‘ve been added to the offerings to Neptune for the day.
The sky cleared up somewhat and grey feeling is gone. Still, I‘m looking forward to the sunrise tomorrow morning and the begining of a new, hopefully much better, day.
Enjoy your evening and love one another.