Surprise surprise. Mainsl furler and boom light

Sue & Alan
Mon 3 Feb 2014 18:32
Ticketeeboo still comes up with the odd unexpected surprise t keep me on my toes! Today I discovered why our boom light doesn't work ....... and this story goes back a long way! I'll explain. We have a light on the underside of our boom, which we can use to illuminate the cockpit. The wiring runs up inside our mast and along the boom. The wire inside our mast passes across our mainsl furler, which is mounted below the boom on the lower part of our mast. An electrical connector is fitted to the outside of the mast so that the wire can be conveniently connected when Ticketeeboo was first rigged. It is always good practice to ensure electrical connections are not excessively strained. For example, all domestic type 13 amp plugs have a clamp, which prevents stressing the electrical connections don't they? Unfortunately, the person who wired our boom light did not fit any such means and therefore the wire in our mast was suspended from the electrical connector by the two screw terminals.
Amazingly it took 4½ years for this poor electrical connection to come apart and the wire to fall inside the mast. I'll come back to these finer points in a moment or two!!!!
Two days ago we sailed from Mt Hartman Bay towards St Georges. At first we enjoyed some broad reaching and as we turned north we ultimately turned closer to wind. At the stage when we wanted to introduce using our mainsl it was completely jammed. It would not move. For all intents and purposes it was wrapped solid inside the mast and no matter what I tried the mainsl stayed firmly unusable. Now the end of the world, just meant we could only sail close-hauled in our jib....... slowly slowly! We had never, in 4½ years experienced such a problem with our mainsl, which had lived up to every expectation. How and why had this problem suddenly arisen? Totally out of the blue (literally) since last time we'd used our mainsl it performed spectacularly well for 48 hours or so close reaching and I simply could not recall any difficulty when last furling it away. Well intended suggestions such as 'the mainsl gets baggy as it gets older, which makes it jam' and 'should always unfurl completely be
fore furling it away' and 'further up you can see sail material trying to come out with the leech and jamming the sail in the slot'. All of which served to introduce uncertainties not previously seen before. Later, when on the hook, by making use of our manual mainsl furler handle and carefully applying additional force where needed...... I was able to free our mainsl....... a good job too because without it our 52NM yesterday, mostly close-hauled, would have been impossible to achieve! (Remember I said I'll come back to some finer points a moment ago?) Today I set about finding our why our boom light has not worked since we last used it in Mt Hartman Bay. Today I checked the electrical wiring, as well the bulb! I had electrical supply immediately below the mast but no electrical supply at the bulb. As I checked through each possible cause I verified there had to be a broken electrical connection within the electrical connector, which is fitted to the outside of the mast. Here's th
e first problem. It's fastened with 4 x M4 screws and these screws are seized solid. I managed to 'loosen' two and the other two simply sheared-off! (The person who fitted these screws 4½ years ago plainly fitted dry stainless steel screws into dry aluminium threaded holes - this is just magic because it's a perfect recipe for creating more work for us owners!!! Electrical connector removed and guess what? No wires! Guess again? Yep, the wires were poorly suspended by their connecting screw terminals and eventually gravity and Atlantic 'rock & roll' wins the day. The wire drops inside the mast. Guess where it comes to rest? Yep, the wire gets mangled up in the mainsl furling motor gear mechanism. What happens next? Yep, the mainsl furler is rendered useless 'cause the wire is well and truly mangled-up in it. Why? Well lets just say it's not the first time we've suffered electrical wiring problems! Do I care? Yes, these repairs are inconveniently timed & at our cost. Will Ticketeeboo
be better for the experience? Yes, as always there is always a right way to do a job well and I can now expect our mainsl furler to perform in the manner we are accustomed to in the future.
I am unable to re-instate our boom light with acceptably secure wiring in and about our mainsl furler so I have re-routed it temporary and secure for time being, whilst I add another item to our project to-do list 'Add cockpit light to steering binnacle to do away with boom light'. Good idea, pity it wasn't put forward as an owner option 5 years ago!
Tonight we have a boom light to illuminate our cockpit again and I'm confident our mainsl will perform well in the future.
Ticketeeboo MMSI 235071989 Callsign 2CED3, Ham callsign = m0hng
At 01/02/2014 22:57 UT our position was 12°27.45'N 061°29.24'W