October 14, 2018
Noon Position: 17 23N 132 43W
Sea: NE 3, E 2, SE 4, sloppy little mess.
Sky: Overcast and squally. Rain.
Bar: 1016, rising
Cabin Degrees Fahrenheit: 79
Water Degrees Fahrenheit: 79
Percent Relative Humidity: 81
Sail: All down. Effecting repair on main.
Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 118
Avg. Miles/Day: 141
Miles since departure: 1409
My “wind to take us to the doldrums” faded away overnight. In the wee hours, the dark and winking sky, where I’d charted Pegasus and Andromeda and Cygnus, clouded over. At dawn, the light NE wind was hot and oozy, and to the east was a monstrous looking squall.
The squall kept pace with us all morning, only inching closer over hours. But by noon, we were in the belly of the beast. Rain. No visibility. And as if to defy all that is right and good, our already zephyrous wind died away. Mo heaved. The main slatted. Bam.
Then I heard what sounded like hail on the coach roof.
It was not hail, and it was not unexpected. For two days, I’d found tiny fragments of black plastic on deck. I knew something was about to fail, but I’d not been able to suss what it was.
What it was: One of the main batten cars had burst, sprinkling its black bearings on deck.
First thought: God-damned middle latitude variables! Harder on gear than the Southern Ocean.
Second thought: Well, that’s it. No more main sail for the duration.
Third thought: No, that won’t do.
The broken car had pulled off the track and hung there at the first set of spreaders, about 25 feet off the deck. After a quick ponder, a short-term fix seemed easy enough, especially in what was now a flat calm.
I lowered the sail, removed the broken car (the plastic bearing keeper had split) and then undid the sail from the cars below this point. Then I moved all the free cars up one spot, effectively making the lowest sail attach point free rather than the attach point at the spreaders.
The reason for doing this was that a) the broken car was at a batten point, which really must have a car’s support, and b) bag in the sail aloft will surely snag a mast step at an awkward moment. Having bag down low is easier to manage.
This all took an hour, by which time wind had got up to near NE 20. I reset sails, and we were off.
This mast car and track system is a thing of beauty, but it suffers from overcomplexity. That is, there’s no jury rigging it once it’s broke. Once below, I had a scan of available parts in at The Hardware Store (locker A6 in the forepeak) and found, to my joy, some previous owner (Tony Gooch) had anticipated this need. The bearing keeper and at least a few bearings were in stock. Great, because I failed to acquire this spare, though it had been on the list.
All that will have to wait our next calm. Which I bet won’t be long in coming.
The rain gave me a chance to test my new water catchment system, which is nothing more than two small, plastic through-hulls installed into the main sail cradle cover. Got about ten gallons in 15 minutes. This batch tastes a bit of dacron but will be good for washing.