Really, It Only Happens at Night


Sept 24
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 14

Noon HST position: 40.46.44N by 140.22.61W
Miles since last noon: 177
Total miles of passage: 1927
Avg. Miles per Day: 137
Course: ENE
Sail: Twins poled out until the wind veered a little more into the south. Now genoa only.
Speed: 7+
Wind: SW to SSW 20 – 25, most 25 today
Sky: Mostly clear
Bar: 1016
Air Temperature: 76 degrees
Sea Temperature: 68 degrees

1am again. Sail changes. No big deal. Wind is up so simply roll in a bit of the twin headsails.

But while in the cockpit I hear a barking. By now I know where to look. I see that starboard tiller line block is frozen, the one I installed new two days ago. I can see the sheave is cracked. No, wait… And then as I brighten the beam of the headlamp and get nearer, the sheave simply falls apart. I dash below and flip on the autopilot.

Part of me can’t believe it. Part of me is not surprised. It is 1am, when MOLI mayhem appears to be scheduled.

All the steering issues on this trip seem to come back to my making poor choices. I don’t say this to be self-critical. It’s all a part of learning what this boat needs and can tolerate.

For example, when the first block froze on the way to Kauai, the larger block I used as replacement (all I then had) appears to have changed the line angle and caused, at least in part, the extraordinary chafe that broke the tiller line earlier in the week.

The new block added two days ago, delivered to Kauai with a great number of other spares, fixed this issue, BUT the block did not have a swivel shackle as had its predecessor; it merely had a saddle. I had manually applied some twist to the strapping that holds this assembly to the rail, but it wasn’t enough. The block was out of alignment with the line; the twist put severe pressure on the sheave, grinding it against the cheek until it failed. In two days!

And here’s the basic learning: The tiller line assembly cannot tolerate alignment issues because the weight of the tiller in a seaway is extreme. Often when making fine adjustments to the chain I must fight hard to get chain and tiller to match up…and our weather/wave action has been far from heavy on any of the three legs.

I’m also beginning to suspect that using covered line in such a high pressure, high repetitions installation is a mistake. The cover simply gets ground up.

New, well aligned block in place. New line run. Last? We’ll see.

*And I had no more 90 degree turn shackles, proving again that one cannot have too many spares.

I can smell home.

Though I’m positive we’ll get at least one more weather surprise, I feel Mo and I are on the last lap, the last 1000 miles, in any case. I’ve been away most of this year and constantly since May. I’m ready to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Knox-Johnson missed a beer in the pub. Schrader missed his dog. I miss my wife, Joanna. I’m a man of few friends, but she is the best of them, and I want again the simple luxury afforded couples that make a habit of staying within three states of each other–the ability to touch base at will, to check-in, to have a chat.

How she handles running her own business, the house, and our lives while I’m away, how she tolerates the doubled responsibility without resentment I don’t know. But I am grateful, and I look forward (in truth) to being the one to take out the trash … at least for the next year.

On that note, a special shout-out to Sarah, Joanna’s mom, whose birthday was this week. Sarah, you done good work. If I had champagne aboard, I’d toast you with it, but your toast will have to settle for beer.


The block simply fell apart as I watched. Of course, it’s 1am, when all mayhem happens.


onky experiment. Trying to take a wind even higher on the beam with just headsails. Starboard poled out; port hanked in without pole. Kinda worked. But don’t tell anyone at the club.

4 Comments on “Really, It Only Happens at Night

  1. Happy birthday to me! She is rather special I agree, I have a tiny feeling that she will be glad to have you home too,😁😂😍

  2. Thank you for sharing this fantastic adventure. The daily updates are something I look forward to reading every evening. I have read the past blog posts and the earlier voyages of your yacht when Tony Gooch owned her. I have never been able to find who designed her? We know the builder but not the design number or designer. In many was she reminds me of a Dick Koopmans design. Fair Winds Thomas

    • Hey Thomas, many thanks for the compliment. I’ve often thought that writing up the adventure is half the fun of having it.

      Amazing you’ve been following this yacht since Mr. Gooch’s expeditions. The boat get’s around, doesn’t she?

      Re the design, I too am unsure. I have Clark Steede’s book, in which are many fine details about this boat in her original incarnation as ASMA. But it’s in German. Can’t read a word.

      That said, I am under the impression that the builders, Dubbel and Jesse, were a *design* and build team. I’ve seen several other D&B yachts that look as “custom” as MOLI.

      Agree re the likeness to Koopman designs, not a bad thing!

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