Day 64 - 70

Carlile Adventures
Mark Carlile
Wed 13 Dec 2006 16:11
This week has been eventful. I've had 3-3.5 metre seas and hit a peak speed of 8 knots with the wind on Ingrid's port stern quarter blowing at 20knots. I also suffered some damage!

A couple of nights ago, at a boat speed of 7 knots at 2am, I was awake checking my position and conditions. I felt as though something wasn't right. As I stepped out of the cabin, I noticed that the electronic autopilot had just popped off the tiller, and the boat was turning at high speed.

It all happened in slow motion. As I stepped into the cockpit the next wave slewed the boat around sideways. My hands outstretched, were just centimetres from the wheel when the boat violently gybed. The boat was side on to the waves and broached. The main sail tried to swing from one side of the boat to the other. There is a rope at the end of the sail on the boom to stop the sail swinging from one side of the boat to the other (called a preventer). As the conditions were rough and my speed fast, the lurching motion was instant as the large wave passed underneath the boat. The preventer broke under the force and the boom swung from one side of the boat to the other. The preventer had done enough of the job to take out the worst of the force.

I got the boat back on course, and checked everything over. It appeared as though nothing as was damaged. I looked up at the main sail, and could see in the dark night that the sail was half way down the mast. The rope holding the sail up to the top of the mast had parted (called a halyard). I pulled the sail down. I could tell that the rope had snapped just 6-8 inches from the end. This is where the rope goes around a roller at the top of the mast. The rope looks like it had rubbed through with chafe.

I had only checked this rope just 2 days earlier for damage. It had looked fine. I suspect that the damage was caused by the rope coming off the roller the last time I put it up. The violent broach that had occurred was too much for the weakened rope.

With everything back under control, I went to sleep with just the one sail up.

The next morning, the seas were still rough. I checked as much as I could, and everything else looked ok. Before doing anything, I decided to wait for the cold front to pass me. I knew that calmer conditions would be on the other side of the front.

After the front passed the seas flattened out. I was able to closely inspect the mast and sail. The rest of the broken rope had fallen inside the mast. I pulled out the rope. Luckily for me, I had a spare main halyard installed in Plymouth. This spare rope was already in the mast ready to be used. The replacement was done and I was able to put the main sail back up again. I was able to put the preventer on again as well.

I really hope this new main halyard rope will last better than the last. I will check it regularly and more closely. If this rope breaks, it will mean I will need to climb the mast to install a new rope or maybe use the spinnaker rope. A mast climb will be difficult if I have to do one.

Besides this incident, everything else has been ok, and I ended up doing my longest week again despite my mishap. I am nearing halfway.

I am now due south of my starting point of Plymouth over two months ago. It is all east from here!

This week's everyday adventure is all about friends. With the festive season upon us, contact a friend that you haven't seen for a while or send a Xmas card. It will make life that little bit different and break up that a routine for both of you. Take the time out and live an everyday adventure every day.

That's a very good evening from Ingrid 930 miles west of Cape Town.


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