Trial and Error
W. Eric Faber
Sun 19 Jan 2014 17:02
Position at 1500hrs GMT: 22.37N 24.15W
Daily run: 118 miles
At midnight I was woken up by the mainsail banging backwards and forwards by the lack of wind and in the heavy swell left over from the fresh to strong breeze enjoyed the previous days. I was on the point of taking it down to save it from damage, when a moderate breeze sprang up and kept the sail just filled. I turned in again, only to find at 3am that the wind had diminished to 8 knots and the sail banging itself senseless. I took it down, but left the genoa up. Had I arrived in the horse latitudes?
At daylight I decided to deploy the parasailor (a very large spinnaker with a vent in it, especially designed for the trade wind areas of the world and particularly good in light winds). It is a two-man job to get it up, but fraught with risks that can lead to damage and to danger. Getting it down is probably even more hazardous. Either manoeuvre requires careful forethought and a plan. I worked all morning executing the plan and was ready to attempt hoisting the parasailor by noon, but the rolling and the pitching soon put paid to my carefully thought-through plan. Anything that could be a hindrance did its utmost to ruin the plan. The halyards became entangled with the sheets while the sail got itself in an unimaginable mess soon after it was unfolded. It would never unfurl from the state it was in; there was nothing for it, but to take it down. Grr…., but in taking it down I could not stop it from dropping partially into the sea ahead of the boat, where it disappeared under the boat. With all the strength I could muster I managed to retrieve it. It was in the most frightful tangle and would never be in a fit state for use again before we get to the Caribbean. I dumped the soggy heap through the fore hatch and poled the genoa out to port and the staysail out to starboard. Now we had a twin fore sail rig. By then it was 14.30hrs. There had been no position taking and no lunch. Tomorrow we shall clear the mess.