Monday 5th July 0908 Local Time 1908
After a fairly tough 700 mile passage to Suwarrow
we arrived in through the pass and round behind anchorage island and were at
anchor in choppy seas and 20 - 25 knot winds. The wind was from the South so the
anchorage which was protected from the prevailing easterlies was very choppy!
There were two other boats there, and in fact it turned out that we were only
the twelvth boat that had visited this year!
The main island, "anchorage island" was lush and
tropical with swaying coconut palms, some tropical mahogany trees and white
sand beach surrounded by turquise waters and sharks, including some more since
The island (actually a large number of islands, as
it is another coral atoll, with many motus forming the fringing reef) is
inhabited only by two park
rangers. We got on splendidly with them and invited
them over for Sunday dinner. However they made it clear that Sunday was very
much a day of rest for them and that it was partly religious, partly cultural
and partly practical that they had Sunday off. This tradition was from the Cook
Islands Presbyterian christian practices. This we explained is very much like
the Hebrides where we came from and we understood completely.
James and Appi, the rangers, are Cook Islanders of
Moauri ethnic origin and are first class people. Having invited them over
for Sunday dinner, they gladly accepted and we asked Niall to say a grace
before dinner in Gaelic, which he did, and which did us all proud. I'm sure
James and Appi very much appreciated it too.
Our Sunday however had not been spent at rest.
Dear God I can assure you this was work of neccessity. We spent most of the day
trying to refit the main clevis pin holding our forestay in place. The
loads involved in this are enormous due to the sheer size of everything not to
mention the quite surprising amount of prebend in our mast achieved by backstay
and swept spreaders and shrouds tension.
Our challenge was to get the froestay pulled down
enough to get the clevis pin holding it in place driven back in. It had
withdrawn all the way forward and was still through the forward part of the
stainless steel fork and it was only just in the stemhead fixing plate. A few mm
further out and we would have had catastrophic damage...
An additional problem was that it was not possible
to get a clear "run" at the pin with a hammer to significantly apply any force
to drive it back in if we could get it alligned.
So we started by, with our (too small scale)
shifters to release the two back stay tensioners. We could not loosen them
all the way as there was no way at all we would get them back in. So we had to
carefully loosen them so that there was still just enough thread grip to hold
the remaining considerable tension load.
We then rigged a "tournoquet" from dymeema to the
top of the fork and the fixing plate for the inner forestay to tilt the fork
back and therefor to lower the inner part of it. We then rigged two
shackles on the top of the bottom fork fitting (regular squints at the
attached photo may help you follow this - if not just get on with something else
and i will write to morrow about our hunting and fishing trip we are just going
on to the motus) and then rigged some
dyneema from each shackle down round two of the anchor rollers and back in a
bridle to the windlass to get some downward pull on the stay. This applied
huge huge force to the bottom of the stay but each additional method lof
applying force was just moving it a mm at a time. Still it wasn't enough. We
risked a few more turns off he back stay tension - holding our breath it would
not strip through the threads. We the took the jib sheet to the centre of
the inner forestay and winched a great big bend in in to drag the mast head
further forward and the fixing fork another mm down. We then took two spinnaker
halyards forwards to the spinnaker downhaul fixing and winched them tight, tight
t-i-g-h-t! Bear in mind at anchor, the windage on the very considerable
bulk of the furled genoa was constantly "fighting" against our attempts to drag
the fixing fork down.
One more turn on everything was enough to get the
holes sufficiently lined up to let me with a 4" swing on my claw hammer (if
anybody out there would like to buy me a Christmas present then a 4lb mash
hammer and a 12" long, 1" diameter stainless steel driver would be much more
appreciated than socks and hankies) was able to just tap it through. The
victorious scream of joy I let out when I got it all the way home pierced
the otherwise tranquil Sunday being enjoyed by the rangers
Friends from "Heavenly" that we had not seen since
the Marquesas pulled into the anchorage in the morning and we had them over for
drinks after dinner with James and Appi in the evening. Having conquered the
forestay fixing I was in particularly good spirits and we had a good evening
followed by a great sleep, in order to gather my strength to beat the s**t out
of those that I had been telling about this rigging problem but were not