Halyard Fixed

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 7 Jun 2015 03:23
Position: At anchor Otter Cove
Wind: North West, gusty
Weather: mostly sunny, mild

Today's important job was to repair the main halyard. Not having a spare line on board as long enough for the job, the only option was to be to splice the old one back together. Now I have spliced double braid before a number of times, and my experience is that while it is never easy, it is much more difficult with older line, especially if they are tightly woven in the first place, which was indeed the case with this particular line. As a result I was not at all optimistic about whether I would be able to effect the repair.

It took me an hour just to get the inner core out of the sheath (I won't go into all the details) and then it become clear that, despite having all the right fids and other essential tools, I was not going to be able to get the right sized fid to pass along the inside of the core, yet alone persuade the sheath to follow it. I persisted for quite a couple of hours, even after stabbing my hand with a spike in the process (not seriously I hasten to add), but it soon became obvious that I was just not going to be able to splice the line back together.

I looked forlornly at my ex-main halyard and pondered what I could do. Could I just join it with a knot, I wondered. I went to the mast to consider whether I could contrive the join so that it did not pass through the masthead sheave box. In so doing my eye caught sight of the drifter halyard. This line I use only rarely, and in any event the drifter currently requires a major repair to a seam that came unravelled many, many months ago while crossing the North Pacific. I have been awaiting the right opportunity to repair it, and, being a non-essential sail, this has not been on the top of my 'to do' list. Obviously the drifter halyard, while not as strong as the main halyard and a lot stretchier, would be better than a halyard with a big knot in it. It took only a moment to climb the mast and re-reeve it. How silly of me, I thought, not to have thought of this solution in the first place. Of course I shall replace the main halyard at the first available opportunity and, lesson learnt, I shall also make sure that I have a spare length of line on board that is at least long enough to replace it if and when the need arises.

With this important job out of the way, and after a bit of lunch, it was now right on low tide, and the tide was close to lowest low water. The shore line thus exposed looked interesting, so I rowed ashore and went for a stroll along the intertidal zone.

What is remarkable about the coastline around these parts is the amount of driftwood,and other things, that is cast up along the high water mark. Many of the logs are huge. Obviously they all drifted here, and at spring tides many of them could of course float off again and set out to drift around the waterways hereabouts and become quite a serious hazard. But logs were not the only things I found along the high water mark. I also found some very large tires, presumably originally belonging to large earth moving machinery, plus I found a bit of a floating dock, and also a large raft, some sixty feet long by twenty feet wide. The raft, while now much dilapidated was clearly very professionally made, bolted together out of large logs, and complete with a neatly constructed planked deck. My guess is that it once served as a work area for some logging crews (photos to follow).

Back on board I have reviewed the plan for tomorrow. I have changed my mind about using the last bit of the flood tide to get to Seymour Narrows, and will use the ebb instead. While the ebb will be against us on our way towards the rapids, my logic is that if we leave Otter Cove with plenty of time to spare, that it will be easier to control our time of arrival at the Narrows, which is the most critical point. Also, once through the Narrows we will then have the flooding tide with us which will help us to get away from the rapids, rather than run the risk of being caught with the stream increasing against us, and threatening to take us back into the region of potentially dangerous turbulence if we do not have the speed to gain sufficient distance before the stream turns. Looking at the tidal tables, slack water is indeed very short, only a matter of minutes, and within an hour the stream is running at four knots or more. So, with all the above in mind, my intention is to start weighing anchor around 11 o'clock. Slack water at the narrows is at 15.30. Allowing half an hour to weigh, that gives us four hours to cover the twelve miles from here to the Narrows. If we are running early it will be a simple matter of slowing down, and if we are running late than hopefully it will only be by a small amount and, as the tide turns, the flood should help carry us through and beyond the Narrows before it picks up too much speed.

So that is the plan. I wonder how it will work out. As one of my favourite old time sailors, Bill Tilman, was fond of saying (quoting Bismark I believe), “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

All is well.