Land Ho - Oh, Oh, ... Capsize!

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 16 Jun 2008 18:05
Noon Position: 46 26.8 N 053 34.7 W
Course: round and round Speed: 0.0 knots
Wind: Calm
Weather: Overcast, swell, visibility fair, cool
Day’s Run: 97 nm

Land Ho! At 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon I looked up from doing something in
the cockpit and to my astonishment there standing out clearly to the north
of us was land, Burim peninsular of Newfoundland to be precise. It was over
20 miles away and after all this fog I really did not expect to be seeing
land until we were nearly on top of it. It has been two weeks since leaving
Annapolis and 13 days since making our departure from Cape May, our last
sight of land.
That’s the good news because things went downhill from there, last night
definitely rates as the worse for the voyage thus far and this morning
things haven’t gotten any better. I know Bob Cat agrees with me on this
one. The strong winds came, stronger than my forecast, and at 5.30 p.m.
yesterday I started reefing down, by 8.10 p.m. we had two reefs in the main
and less than 50% of the jib and were still easily doing 6 ½ knots plus.
Despite the boisterous conditions everything was going OK, we were getting a
bit of protection from the land so the seas weren’t as bad as they might
have been, nonetheless sometime around 11 p.m. Bob Cat came to me and
started complaining about something. It turned out he needed to use his
litter tray and had a bit of a spillage with the boat heeling over so far,
so he was just coming to tell me about it and maybe needed some assistance.
I thought that’s pretty smart Bob and scooped the kitty litter back into the
tray so poor old Bob could have another go. Unfortunately during the
process a wave heeled us over past the tipping point and the whole lot
capsized, Bob Cat and the litter tray, spilling kitty litter with Bob in
amongst it everywhere – what a mess, and poor old Bob, he was trying so hard
to do the right thing. Well that was the end of that. Bob decided to give
it a miss for the time being and scampered off to his hideaway spot. After
I had cleaned up I went and checked on Bob and found that I had been very
remiss in hanging my foul weather gear, as the boat heeled over all the
drips from the foul weather clothing were dripping into Bob’s hidey hole.
He was looking pretty unhappy. I cleaned it up as best I could but clearly
it was too damp for him to stay there so I put him back on the settee under
the sea rug and there he has stayed since, except to eat – so his life isn’t
over yet.
My punishment for my inadequate care of Bob Cat came this morning; the wind
had dropped to a light air, I had just set the drifter and was contemplating
the mainsail, wondering if I should drop it as it was starting to slat, when
the sail decided for me and came tumbling down with a rush. Inspection
revealed that the main halyard shackle had broken clean in two. This is the
sort of thing that happens when sails slat, the sails flop across with the
roll of the boat and come to an abrupt halt as they hit the end of the
tether in their sheets, this sudden shock load places enormous loads on gear
which otherwise even in the heaviest gales would be more than strong enough.
Initially I thought maybe my wire eye splice might have failed but when I
climbed the mast to re-lead the halyard this proved to be all in tact. A
broken shackle I thought it was going to be a relatively simple job to
replace, but when I got to the top of the mast literally hanging on for dear
life as the mast gimballed and gyred, amplifying the motion of the boat
rolling some 45 feet below me, I found the halyard had pulled through the
masthead sheave and had jammed itself on a fitting on the forward side of
the mast. I freed it and tried to feed it back through the sheave but no
luck, so down I went to fetch a length of line to help fish it through.
Backup the mast I tried two different lengths of line but no success with
either, the eye on the halyard just did not want to feed through. Back down
this time I decided I would have to pull the whole halyard down and reeve it
back through from the other end which doesn’t have and eye on it. Well this
took two attempts as on the first I dropped the halyard and had to descend
all way down to the deck to retrieve it, then climb back up to have another
go. Fourth time aloft and it was done.
Judy’s fudge is no more! After the first climb I realized this was not
going to be an easy job so as there wasn’t much fudge left I decided now was
a good time to eat the rest of it. But I left one piece as a reward for
when I finished the job. Thank you Judy. I don’t normally like fudge, I
find it too sweet, but you were right, yours is the best.
Once back on deck I found there wasn’t even enough wind to fill the drifter
so we have dropped everything and are now simply drifting waiting for some
wind. St Johns is only 100 miles a way, it will be interesting to see how
long it takes to cover this last little distance.

Bob Cat:

Well yesterday I said some things are beneath my dignity to discuss and that
remains the case, suffice to say that last night would have to be one of the
worst experiences of my life, except perhaps that experience in the garbage
bag when I was little more than a kitten just before I found Mary’s family.
I wonder whether I did something wrong in my previous nine lives. Some seek
adventure, others, like me, have it thrust upon them.