Masthead Views

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 6 Feb 2016 21:42
Noon Position: 19 45.7 N 119 03.0 W
Course: West sou' west Speed 6 knots
Wind: North nor' east, F4 moderate breeze
Sea: moderate Swell: north nor' east 2 meter
Weather: overcast, mild
Day's run: 144 nm

Another day of warm steady trade wind sailing – almost uneventful. At seven I stuck my head up to have a look around and was dismayed to see that the mainsail was lying in a heap on top of the boom. I immediately assumed that the mainsail halyard had chafed through, but on closer inspection realised that the main halyard shackle had broken. That I would not have expected as it was quite a heavy duty shackle. Bloody stainless steel! An excellent material for marine use, but its one big draw back is fatigue. Even the heaviest duty item manufactured in stainless can fail when subjected to constant cyclic stresses. What to do?
I did not have an alternative halyard that I could use in place of the main halyard. Sailing the rest of the way to Hawaii under headsail alone, with still 2,000 miles to go, might add several days to the trip. Conditions were relatively calm, and Sylph was rolling for the most part gently. Bother! I donned harness and climbed the mast before breakfast, praying that Sylph didn't decide to go into a death roll while I was aloft. Well, I am writing this, so it is a safe bet that she did not buck me off. I had to hang on a couple of times, arms wrapped tightly around her truck, during a few heavy rolls to wait for the sea to pass before continuing to guide the end of the halyard back down to the deck. Back on deck, I replaced the broken halyard shackle with a heavy duty shackle, though not a halyard shackle (no captive pin), so that will have to be replaced in Hawaii.
The mainsail is back up. We continue to run before the gentle trades, wing on wing, following the sun, full of portent, towards lands once full of mystery, and now, with a little imagination, perhaps no less so, and stories, silver threads binding, waiting to be told.
All is well.