Next Plan

Noon Position: 49 33.0 N 033 33.0 W
Course: East 5 knots
Wind: East sou'east, moderate
Weather: Sun and cloud. Sea: moderate
Day's Run: 91 miles
"Whenever your preparations for sea are poor, the sea worms its way in and
finds the problem." Francis Stokes. *

Now what were we saying about plans? Yesterday afternoon we turned south to
try and get behind this low pressure system, all is going well, completed a
couple of small repair jobs to the spray cloths, and I am relacing one
when - rattle, rattle, clunk, clunk, clunk - the unmistakable sound of the
mainsail tumbling down - the mainsail halyard had chafed through. This has
been a bit of an ongoing problem and I think is the third time it has
happened. The sheeve at the masthead was designed for a conventional
mainsail and when I refurbished the boat I fitted a fully battened main, the
headboard of which stands aft a few inches from the mast, making the lead
from the masthead a slight angle from where it exits the masthead sheeve
box, which in turn causes chafe, a sailor's number one enemy at sea. I have
tried various fixes, most recently I cut away a guide at the back end of the
masthead which was exacerbating the problem, but obviously that did not
work. Well I definitely need the mainsail to work, so somehow I am going to
need to re-reeve that halyard. I had a go at it yesterday afternoon but got
as far as the spreaders and decided this was not a good idea, the boat's
motion was just too vigorous. I tried to think of alternative solutions,
like using the boom topping lift as a halyard, in a smaller boat this might
work, but you need something to control the boom when the mainsail is being
hoisted otherwise it would reek havoc. Still, I was pleasantly surprised how
close Sylph was sailing to the wind with just the jib up, so, as it was late
and there seemed little I could do right then, I decided to leave it till
the next day.

Which duly arrived, having slept on the problem I came up with a partial
solution. I stowed the boom in its gallows and used the boom topping lift to
hoist the trisail instead. The trisail is a storm sail and is very small but
at least it adds a little sail area aft helping to balance the boat a bit
better. This leads to another admission, I did have a separate halyard for
the trisail but recently thought why not simplify things and use the main
halyard instead of cluttering the mast up with unnecessary lines. Well I've
since changed my mind about that.

The next glitch in my brilliantly conceived plan of yesterday, the weather
faxes I received last night showed that this cunning little low has decided
to do something different to what the UK forecaster's were publishing when I
conceived my plan - you would think a 24 hour forecast should have a pretty
high likelihood of being right. But no, the latest picture shows that
instead of continuing east and letting me tuck in behind it, the low has
regrouped, jumped to the southwest, and will intensify and continue its
track east, in the meantime I have managed to place myself directly in its
path. Bother! At least we know the trisail is ready for it. Right now we
have gotten ourselves into a funny little kink in the isobars which is
directing a southerly flow and a bit of sunshine over us, very welcome,
we're
not actually punching into a headwind for the moment, though we had to
endure some very confused seas before the wind settled into the south.

One other little thing to keep me amused, the solar panels stopped charging
this afternoon so had to spend an hour or so tracking down the problem and
fixing that, two corroded joins it turned out, working again now.

Just went on deck to check things and the wind is starting to back into the
southeast. Drat! This means we are still on the wrong side of this damn low,
and the winds will probably continue to back and strengthen - more
headwinds!

"There's one thing about bashing to windward. You never forget, for one
minute, that you are at sea in a sailing boat" Tristan Jones. *


* Quotes from "The Quotable Sailor", Editor Christopher Caswell, courtesy of
The Annapolis Bookstore, the best little bookstore on the planet.

Bob Cat::

Is there anything about cats in that book of yours? No? Who ever heard of a
boat without a ship's cat? Major oversight I'd say, missed out on a very
important category. Skipper Bob, you shall have to write one of our own to
fix it. Meanwhile .. Zzzzzz.

All is well.


PS Halyard is rove and mainsail is back up. Whew!