Crash Gybe

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 13 Dec 2016 05:15
Noon Position: 38 06.2 S 140 38.3 E
Course: East Sou’ East Speed: 5 knots
Wind: ENE, F3 - Gentle Breeze
Sea: slight Swell: SW 1 meter
Weather: overcast, warm
Day’s Run: 80 nm

We experienced a little drama this morning. The winds had been mostly light and steady overnight but this part of the coastline is populated with numerous crayfish boats and the waters are bestrewn with their pots. At night there is not much I can do to avoid all the pots as they are marked only by polystyrene floats that are not lit. Fortunately, Sylph for the most part glides over the pot lines and only occasionally fouls one, generally when travelling at slow speed which means they are not too difficult to clear.

But it was neither the cray pots nor the cray boats that caused the drama but rather a sudden wind shift accompanied by a micro-burst. The wind shifted direction first causing Sylph to head towards the coast and I had started to get things ready to gybe when a sudden gust of wind from yet a different direction caught the mainsail aback and caused an uncontrolled crash gybe, as far as I can recollect it is the first time this has happened while I have been Sylph’s keeper. Because I had loosened off the boom vang-preventer when the boom crashed over it lifted and became caught on the backstay. I allowed Sylph to round up to spill the wind out of the main and allow the weight of the boom to lower and free itself from the back stay. The crash gybe caused a little bit of damage. The lower stern light on the back stay was smashed and three mainsail battens broke. There is not much I can do about the stern light though I only use this for motoring and the trilight at the masthead which I use for sailing is fine. I have since lowered the mainsail and sacrificed one batten by shortening the two longer broken battens and moving them up one spot so now we are only missing the second lowest batten. I will climb the mast and do a full rigging check when next we make harbour.

Now that all repairs have been made we are running wing on wing before a fresh westerly making good time. With a little bit of luck I might yet get to enjoy some of Kate’s Christmas cake and king prawns.

All is well.