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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Snaggletooth Sailing

Our main sail, definitely worse for the wear.
It was May 3rd, sorry to feel compelled to leave Great Inagua so soon (click hereclick here and here and here for more about Great Inagua), we took off for what we believed would be an overly calm and too slow a sail between storms.  As the crow flies, we were still a scoch less 500 nautical miles away from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, our planned landfall 6 weeks out.  With a typical sailing speed of only 4-6 nautical miles/ hour, we needed to get going.

As a result, we were feeling a little giddy at our serendipitous 7-knot sail… until it came to a screeching halt.  Amazing how the sweet joy of drafting of the fringe of a squall can so swiftly shift and slap you silly.  Or worse.

Swirling forty knot winds yanked aggressively at our reefed sails.  Our main sail separated from its luff rope and slugs (which hold the sail into the mast track).  Translation:  we were effectively without a mainsail. 
Wayne, Ron of Tovarish and Jose of Atlantica determine
a sail loft repair is our best solution.

That still left us with our genoa and our mizzen sails, and our engine.

Or did it?

The same gusts that disabled our mainsail, damaged the clew on our next biggest and favorite sail; our genoa.  Half an hour later, the strain ripped the clew out, rendering that sail ineffective, too.

We totally lost control, spinning in circles.  It sounds worse than it is, considering that we remained perfectly upright in deep water far away from anything that if we hit it would damage the boat. 

Castle Island, where we first limped into with
our snaggletooth sail set.
Wayne, thank goodness, is a master at problem solving.  He quickly lashed our main, and together we pulled our genoa down and rolled it up. Wayne pulled out the backup genoa Ned, Journey’s former owner, and the king of spares, so thoughtfully left on Journey.  We’d never used it, but up it went.  We appreciated its substantially larger profile (our usual genoa is 110, the backup is 150) as we’d be relying on it more heavily without our main.

This left Journey with a funny looking profile.  A great big genoa sail at the front our boat stretched over a third of our boat’s length. At the rear of our boat toward our cockpit, up high above our cockpit dodger, flew a little tiny mizzen sail.  I dubbed Journey’s sailing setup “snaggle tooth sailing.”
Phillips Sailmaker shop in Nassau.  Fast, affordable and competent.

Even though we were now woefully underpowered in our sails, we still our engine to rely on.  Ummm, sort of. 

From the beginning, when we joined out boat in St Lucia, Wayne got our leaky raw water pump repaired and the spare raw water pump repaired, too.  Unfortunately, the repairs weren’t that robust.  The job of those pumps was to keep our engine cooled.  Instead, they sprayed a lot of salt water where it wasn’t supposed to go, and didn’t flow enough water where it needed to go to keep the engine cool.  Technically, the engine worked, but we didn’t want to run it any more than we had to.  Not only was it not getting properly cooled, we were concerned about what the corrosive saltwater spray was doing to areas best kept dry, like electrical connections.

Phillips Sailmaker makes more than sails.
Ultimately the only real harm besides to our pride, was losing our ability to make decent time until it was fixed (our average speed dropped to from 5-6 to 4 nautical miles / hour). Of course it took “boat buck$” to fix it.

In Nassau, a little over 325 nautical miles from our Great Inagua blowout, we were at last able to get both sails and the raw water pump fixed. We’d heard from our friends Jose and Char Pagan of Atlantica that Phillips Sailmakers was excellent.  They were correct!  Fortunately, both the sail and the pump repairs were faster and less expensive than we expected. 
Despite appearances, Albert's raw water pump repair seems solid.

Seems rode hard and put away wet is more fitting for sailing than cowboys, even when we don’t blow through our two primary sails in ½ hour.

Should there be a “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be sailors?”  My mom would probably agree.

Yet, we feel a strange sense of accomplishment in our ability to successfully sail over 325 miles without a normal sail set set or a reliable engine.

We've stuck to our backup genoa, even though our "main"
genoa and mainsail is now sailable
Note:  This is a retrospective.  We are at the moment busy replenishing our cruising kitty until we set sail again in December.

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