A semblance of serenity returns

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sun 15 Apr 2018 00:15

Monday, 0140, under Franco’s watch.


“All hands on deck!” What he actually shouted was: “Kath!” which on Caramor amounts to the same thing but doesn’t sound as nautical.

The no2 genoa had come crashing down again. In the glow of the deck floodlight, we hauled it back onboard. This time it wasn’t chafe, the snap shackle that attaches the top of the sail to the halyard had released and was now hanging useless, and out of reach, at the top of the mast.

We decided to wait until daylight and breakfast before sorting things out. Caramor was still moving at over 4 knots just under genoa.

After breakfast we tried lowering the halyard. In vain, the weight of the shackle and the knot were nothing compared to the 17m of rope. One of us would have to go up the mast (again), and it seemed only fair that it should be me as Franco’s bruises were only just fading. We had learnt valuable lessons from last time: wear a helmet, long sleeves and gloves, and that one of us would winch the other up, this way the person climbing would be able to use both hands to protect and not need to worry about moving up on the jumars. Franco is stronger than me, I am lighter than him, it made sense for him to do the winching.

Caramor from the cross tree (halfway up the mast)

All went well and I returned to the deck with the green halyard. Somehow it had deformed and the pin would no longer snap into place.

The broken snap shackle

Franco replaced the shackle with the type we use on the main sail, where the pin locks into place. We hoisted the no2 genoa once again.

Sailing downwind with twin headsails, the no2 genoa is to port (left)

Our delight was short lived. After just a few hours the wind started increasing. A freshly downloaded grib file (weather chart) showed that this would continue until Thursday. Keen not to repeat our mistake from early on in the journey, we decided to drop the no2 genoa.

In a canvas bag, I have 15 pairs of gloves; winter mountaineering, ski touring, horse riding, thin, padded, rubber, woollen, synthetic, you name it. Three pairs are sailing gloves; thick, general and shorty.

Franco released the pressure on the sheet and took in on the lazy sheet (the idea is that it makes recovery of the sail easier and avoids it going overboard). He then went forward to grab the sail as it came down. I released the halyard but instead of gently coming down, the sail filled with wind and billowed forward like a kite, pulling the halyard up the mast at great speed. I let go, but not soon enough and the rope burned into my left palm and the fingers of my right hand.

Franco hauled the sail back onboard and I went to stick my hands in a bucket of water. It seems to have helped, where the skin had blistered, it has fused and hardened, and it is just the places where it had rubbed off that are sore and delicate.

The wind increased to 25-30 knots, gusting 35. We continued on heavily reefed no1 genoa only. The motion was terrible and Aries, the self steering was needing to fight hard to keep us on track.

Friday morning, the wind was moderating slightly and Franco was being driven crazy by the motion so we decided to experiment with the staysail.

After four days of being battered around the cabin, we’d had enough. Luckily the seas started moderating.

We dug out the stay sail. We usually use it for upwind sailing and hadn’t expected to need it in the trade winds. Franco poled it out as a head sail on the port side, a twin to the heavily reefed no1 genoa on starboard. This has made the steering more balanced and the motion much kinder.