Last night, after the sun set, I went down Joff Brown’s checklist for the boat. He is our Boat Captain and Team Manager, and knows the boat inside and out. I had to do the list after sunset because it’s simply too hot to spend time scrutinizing a piece during the day time.
The list involved all the pins for the stays for the genoa, solent, and staysail, chafe on furling lines, etc. One of the items was to look at all of the batten cars, with binoculars for the top ones, to make sure that the stem coming from the car into the batten end fitting on the mainsail was not unwinding itself.
Sure enough, on batten for reef 2, up about 20′, I could see that it had unwound about halfway. If it came out all the way, the sail would be detached from the mast there, and it would be extremely difficult to get it reconnected. This is what happened way back near the start, just before we reached Cape Finisterre. It took about 3-4 hours to replace and get going again.
Curiously, it is also a great example of how sound can be the first alert that something is wrong. About 2 weeks ago, under certain conditions, I was hearing a squeaking, a tapping, in the general vicinity of batten car for reef 2. I had echolocated to that position. I figured that the stainless steel stem in the cup was not bearing smoothly, and when the mainsail surged a bit, it would squeak in its socket. Perhaps now we know that if it was squeaking and was stuck, it was also then unscrewing itself tiny bit by tiny bit from the batten fitting.
So then the question was whether to lower the mainsail and fix it right now by screwing it back in, or wait until this morning, or whenever we would have reef 2 back in (in the Northeast trades for sure in a few days). Coincidentally, the breeze increased such that a reef was needed, and we were able to do both. It’s good to catch what could have become a big problem, and get it resolved. And now we can keep an eye on it the rest of the way.
9° 28’S x 32° 30’W
True Wind Speed
True Wind Direction
Sails (click for diagram)
Mainsail (1 reef), Solent
88°F / 31.1°C
85°F / 29.4°C
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