Day 2 (and a half) of the 2004 Vendée Globe
Yikes, what a night. Sailing to the north of Cape Finisterre, the wind lifted enough to put up our new heavy spinnaker. It looks and works great, but after several hours I was getting really tired and the conditions were not stable enough to try to sleep with it up. The wind was starting to pick up and more was on the way so I decided to douse and try to get a nap. About halfway through the process the wind decided it was time to blow hard, so the whole procedure was rather exciting and took a lot of energy.</P
Not long afterwards I jibed to the south but soon after that the latest position report showed all the leaders staying west. It is far to early to take any big flyers so it was time to jibe back despite the fact it was now a good 30kts of wind.
As I eased the windward runner forward for the jibe, I heard and felt a bit of a shock or pop but had no idea where it came from. A quick glance around didn’t show anything so I went for it.
More than one thing went awry after that. First off, the self-inflating rescue bouy assembly got snagged by the mainsheet. Suddenly in the back of the cockpit there was an inflating yellow gizmo with a strobe light on top. I had to hop on it before it blew away and find the deflating valve which was ridiculously slow. So folded it into the vestibule and this morning I finished deflating and repacking it into the container. Not having a spare CO2 cartridge to fit it it is now out of commission.
I discovered the real trouble a few hours later when I went up in the sail locker. The shock I had felt was the main positioning spacer for the step of the mast, popping out of it’s spot. It had apparently been squirted out like a watermelon seed under the enormous load of the mast when I let the runner off. It was epoxied into place but without locking fasteners. When I went into the sail locker the base of our unstayed mast was sliding backwards and forwards in it’s compartment. NOT GOOD.
By easing off the working jib halyard and grinding the bejeezus out of the runner I was able to move the maststep to it’s proper (forward) position. Then I hammered the block and it’s wedges back where they belonged. Not having long enough bolts to lock it into place I used four drill bits and ran them throught the frames and into the thick delrin spacer. It should stay put but I’m going to keep a close eye on it.
Having been up all night and exhausted, I took several 20 minute naps today, and I feel another one coming on soon….;-)
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet