Tonga>New Zealand - Day 5 (2012-11-09 07:00 UTC - 30:42S 174:18E - DTF 278)

Vries Peter Pons
Fri 9 Nov 2012 09:17
Once more an eventful day: whereas the weather improved further, havoc
aboard. The shackle of the swivel of the staysail furler broke at dawn, so
our brand new staysail was floating alongside the boat. Got it on board in
time to prevent damage to it and tied it to the side of the railing. An hour
afterwards a wave pulled part of it overboard again, and then we decided to
take it away completely, not an easy task considering the weight of the wet
sail, the wave action and Daph's hurt hand, which, btw, is doing better
already. Once we had more or less folded it, rolled it over deck back to the
cockpit and sat down to catch our breath, my improvised fixture of the
already damaged block of the running backstay snapped. With foresight we had
already tied a safety line to it to prevent it from flying through the
cockpit once more. Since the block was now unusable, we replaced it with the
block of the other backstay, crawled back to the cockpit, sat down and
thought that would be the end of that problem. But no, less than 2 minutes
later this block snapped just like the first one, and almost flew through
the cockpit again. Quite a disappointment, to say it mildly. By breaking off
parts and re-rigging it with a much stronger shackle (something we
considered doing with the first block, but ultimately did not), it now looks
like a stronger connection than it ever was. Whether it was me to blame to
overtighten the running backstays or brittle material giving in because of
age, I don't know, but will check with a rigger in NZ.

Rest of the day reasonably easy sailing, but we lost quite some height and
will therefore have to start motoring upwind early tomorrow to make it to
Opua by Sunday afternoon, before the low kicks in and our butts.

Both dead tired, but Daph did manage to put a lovely dinner together (steaks
and fries once more, otherwise we'd have to throw them away because of NZ
Customs laws).

Quite a few other boats are sailing the same route now, because this was
supposed to be a good weather window. Once we have arrived safely, I'll
check if in hindsight this still applies, but apparently one boat certainly
did not benefit and sank two days ago. We heard the NZ Coast Guard reply to
the crew's mayday call, but could not hear them ourselves. At first another
boat tried to rescue them from their liferaft, but ended up suffering quite
some damage, so could not continue. However, they seem to have been located
by the Coast Guard and a nearby ship is on its way to their rescue. So who
are we to complain about a few broken items on board, all is relative!