Birds and Halyards

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 5 Jun 2008 17:16
Noon Position: 40 33.9 N 070 44.0 W
Course: East North East Speed: 6 knots
Wind: North, moderate breeze
Weather: Overcast, showers clearing, cool

Last night the wind died and the fog arrived. I struggled to make the most
of it but by 9 pm I conceded defeat, it was foggy, there was no wind and the
sails were simply wearing themselves out slatting around. I dropped the
sails with the intention of drifting until there was some wind and using the
opportunity to catch up on sleep, take some of Bob Cat's advice. I think
the gods must be looking after me at this stage as when I dropped the
mainsail I discovered that the main halyard was chafed halfway through.
Being a rope to wire halyard meant repairing it was no easy matter but it
had to be done, and while it was calm now was the time to do it. So I broke
out the necessary tools, a fid, pliers, vice grips, screw driver, wire
cutters, hack saw, a headlamp so I could see, and set to. I spent from
11.30 pm until 1.15 am sitting at the base of the mast in the dripping fog
prying apart barbs of wire and trying to splice an eye into them
sufficiently strong to hold the weight of the mainsail under load. It took
me three goes, numerous little pricks to my fingers and only a modicum of
cursing before I was satisfied with the result, not the neatest splice in
the world, but a bit of tape wrapped it up out of sight and covered the few
little barbs remaining.
The headlamp was brilliant, it pointed exactly where I needed it, namely
where I was looking and the little LED lights provided clear bright light to
work by. Only problem was it attracted birds. I was working away oblivious
to my surroundings when a little sea bird flew up to my face and tried to
land there. Clearly it was exhausted. Now what to do? I have read that
birds that land on boats rarely survive, odds are probably even worse when
there is a cat on board. I thought the best thing for it was warmth and
rest. So I wrapped the little thing in a hand towel and shoved up my jumper
and continued to work. When I finished work I left him wrapped up in the
towel in the cockpit. There was still no wind so I turned in for a few
hours. Come 6 am sufficient wind had picked up to raise sail and get
underway again. I expected to unwrap the towel in the cockpit and find one
stiff little bird but I was pleased to find the towel empty, presumably the
rest had done him good and he had continued on his way.
The mainsail is raised, the jib is set, the halyard is holding and we have
been making a steady six knots in the now northerly breeze working our way
east to round Nantucket Shoals later tonight.

Bob Cat:

Was that a bad dream or what? Were we about to be busted? What a
terrifying racket! That was a many sleeps ago now, more like one really
long one actually. I tell you there better not be too many more of those
incidents or . . . . And this bunk moving thing just isn't getting any
better. Mind you I've found quite a nice warm little spot, nice soft
lighting, if you sort of curl up just right in amongst the sails and
sleeping bag and things even the motion isn't too bad, rather soothing in
way, in fact feeling sleepy just thinking about it, might get back to that
nice little dream I was having, I felt like I actually had feathers in my