Day 84 – Boom Topping Lift Up – Again

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 7 Mar 2022 13:40
Noon Position: 41 07.5 S 008 09.6 E
Course: SE Speed: 5 knots
Wind: SW, F4 Sea: slight
Swell: SW 2 m
Weather: overcast, mild
Day’s Run: 136 nm sailed (110 nm of Easting)

I ended up gybing yesterday afternoon as the wind continued to back into the SSW and had us heading almost due north. Even after the gybe we were still heading ENE but the combined sea and swell with breakers the idea of coming onto a beam reach to make more easting was not at all attractive. The wind did moderate for a short while, which I was expecting, and I shook out a reef and unrolled a bit of jib but at 2000 the wind picked up again, which I was not expecting, so it was back to three reefs in the main and 40% jib poled out to starboard.
We continued running wing-on-wing until 0230 when I awoke to the sound of the boom banging about and Sylph’s motion short and chaotic, a good indication that the wind had eased considerably. It seemed a good time to drop the pole, set a bit more sail, and alter course to the east. This done, I returned to my bunk. Come dawn the wind had eased further, down to a gentle breeze, though of course there was still a fair bit of swell running which made for a bit of rolling of Sylph and slatting of her sails. But now that the sun was rising and the wind had dropped I thought I may as well get up and try to fix the boom topping lift. So I donned jeans and runners in anticipation of a climb aloft, went on deck, shook out the second reef in the main, unfurled the full jib, then returned below for breakfast and to allow a bit of time to assess the feasibility of going aloft. After finishing my cup of tea I decided conditions looked good enough to give it a go. There was still a two meter swell running but it was now relatively long and even, and there was just enough breeze to keep the sails full and Sylph relatively stable.
Collecting an assortment of shackles together, a small shifter, and a lanyard, I donned the climbing harness, secured the topping lift block to my harness with the lanyard, and started aloft. I got to the spreaders and paused for a rest. The motion was still pretty sharp at times and I needed the conserve my strength. I continued and was within a meter of the masthead when the topping lift tugged at my belt and wouldn’t allow me to climb any higher. I looked down to see that the line had fouled around the reefing winch on the boom. Darn! I tried to shake it loose but it was no good. I was going to have to climb down and unfoul it. Double darn! (It was probably a good thing no one was below to hear what I actually said, but then if they were they could have freed the line.)
Okay, so enough drama for one morning. I returned on deck, unfouled the line, faked it out over the jib whisker pole to make sure it didn’t foul again, and then gave it a second go, which I am pleased to say was more successful. The boom topping lift block is now back where it belongs and in the way of insurance I have tied a strop around the block and over the masthead so that if the replacement shackle fails the block and topping lift should remain in place.
With the topping lift repaired, we have now set full sail, heading SE, looking for a bit of wind.
All is well.