Caramor dreams of white horses

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sat 24 Mar 2018 20:21

31:27.5S 72:35.9W

After a couple of days of northerly winds, during which we didn’t make much progress, we were delighted when a light southerly breeze picked up.

Downwind sailing can be quite uncomfortable, Caramor rolls a bit downwind  and to me it feels like the rinse cycle in a washing machine (buckets of water coming over the stern add to the impression) so we decided to fly twin head sails. The last time we did was possibly when we crossed the Atlantic, so quite some time ago. I find it desperate working out where each rope needs to go and what it will look like once the pole is up and the sail hoisted. Franco is much better but still there was a considerable amount of head scratching.

The first pole was up, we unfurled the big genoa - oops two ropes were crossed, let’s try that again. We put the second pole up and hoisted our small genoa, only to realise it needed to sit higher, so we would have to swap the poles around. We took everything down and started again. The second time all was perfect.

Over dinner (fresh mushroom risotto with a red onion, cranberry and carrot salad, followed by bread and butter pudding made with egg custard) we admired our work. Caramor was sailing in perfect balance and the motion was blissful.

The grib wind forecast was for a steady southerly, 22 knots. 

“Fine,” said the skipper.

Bliss didn’t last long ... A Chilean Navy ‘strong wind warning’ crackled over the VHF. All ports between Valparaiso and Coquimbo would be shut and winds would gust up to 35 knots.

Franco and I glanced at each other; those kind of winds would turn caramor with her twin sails from a well bred quarter horse into a crazy mustang. Franco roller reefed the main genoa but we left the small one up. The winds picked up and Caramor took off on a wild gallop, always keeping abreast of all the white horses. 

As I struggled in search of sleep, my vivid imagination pictured torn sails and snapped poles. My watch soon came and I stood in the cockpit in awe as Caramor surfed down waves at speeds up to 9.8 knots. Above, the stars twinkled.

Just after 8am we scrambled into the cockpit for breakfast, the wind was easing and the sea moderating. 

“BANG!” Something had snapped. Franco, in full foul weather gear, charged forwards to rescue the small genoa which was dragging, half in the water. I grabbed my life jacket and followed. I thought the sail had ripped. Luckily it was fine, it was the halyard holding it up that had frayed on something inside the top of the mast. This has happened before, there must be something sharp just out of sight. Any breakage so early on in such a long journey is a bad idea and we should have sailed more conservatively - lesson learnt.

Thanks for small mercies that it broke during the day and not in the middle of the night.

At the moment we are sailing between 5 and 7 knots on a heavily reefed, poles out genoa and have no desire to go any faster, Caramor’s race horse days are over. 

If needs be, Franco is confident we will be able to rig a pulley at the top of the mast to take the small genoa halyard, but we will have to wait for calmer seas.

Post by Kath