4.14.18 @ 1000 Local, 1700 Zulu Day #22
Latitude: 04°11’S Longitude: 134°59’W Covered Distance Last 24 Hours: 118 NM Distance to the Marquesas: 402 NM Distance from Punta de Mita, Mexico: 2634 NM Weather: scattered clouds 60% Winds: ES-EN 17 knots Sea State: ESE 2.0 meters Barometer: 1013 Crew’s Mood: I think I’d go with Excellent!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..
So when you’ve gone to bed to get a nap or make it an all nighter of sleep, that is what you kind of expect. Day 20, started out like that. I had finished the morning watch and at about noon I decided that a little nap, which included sleeping, was in order. Down to the bunk I went for a couple of hours. I was planning to get up at about 1430 hours local time. And just about the time my internal clock said it was time to get up, I noticed Dazzler was feeling really smooth in the ocean. Too smooth.
Just about the time I look aft at the gauge on the aft bulkhead to check out the boat speed. I simultaneously see 1.2 knots on the instrument along with hearing, “DAN, GET UP HERE QUICK, WE’VE LOST THE JIB.” Not, the Jib fell down or maybe a tsunami is coming or something to equal the catastrophic volume of the yell of fear blasted down the companionway in my direction. Without skipping a beat, I was quickly on deck, in my underwear and observed the Jib sail was not where I had left it before my nap. While moving forward toward the bow, I could see the tack of the sail attached to the roller furling drum. Yes, the Jib was completely in the water along Dazzler’s starboard side. Quickly Jilly and I pulled the soggy sail up onto the starboard deck where I started to assess what had happened to cause this. The head of the Jib was in good shape so I looked aloft and saw the upper roller bearing sitting up there taking in the splendor of the ocean view. It’s a little to early to start assessing blame, so I told Jilly I have to go aloft to retrieve the upper roller furling bearing and halyard. A halyard is a line that pulls the head of he sail up the mast and holds it up while the sail is in use or rolled on the furling tube.
The wind is in the high teens and the sea state is somewhere between not good and ah shit for a mast climbing. But, up I must go. We first turned Dazzler downwind to stop the roll and ease the apparent wind speed. My first thought was to get my helmet and climbing gear to ascend by free climbing the mast steps with a safety line and a prussic knot as a break. I made it to the spreaders and something didn’t feel right. So down I went to get my bosun climbing chair. This was a good call because it gave me a better platform for using my legs more than my arms for the climb. I had an additional line attached that I hauled up with me to use to pull down the furler bearing assembly. This halyard is a Dacron double braid style halyard. When a double braid line is spliced the diameter of the line at the spliced end is wider than the rest of the line. Regular double braid also has some stretching characteristics that will reveal themselves shortly. At the top of the mast are four sheaves on the forward side and two on the aft side. These sheaves allow the line to smoothly pass over them and provide a nice little channel for the line to ride in and thus not inducing chafe if properly sized. Okay! When whatever happened at the top of the mast allowed the Jib under load to suddenly slide down the roller furling track tube and into the water. The energy loaded on the tight halyard let go like a sling shot and thus jamming the wider spliced end into the sheave at the top of the mast. There I said it.
The last time this had happened to me, I had to use all two hundred something pounds of my weight to hang on it to pull it out of the sheave. This time I was smarter. I pulled up a piece of line that I could turn to a winch to crank it free. A short climb down the mast, swinging violently from side to side, I held on just like Grape Ape had thought me. You are probably wondering why isn’t Grape Ape up here doing all this. Well when it all happened he ran for his room in the lazarette. Because he regularly climbs the mast while we’re underway, he probably thought he had done something wrong and was ascared.
Back on deck I now started to work my plan to use not just any winch, but the Binford 5000. Oh oh oh oh oh! That’s right folks the Binford 5000 will pull your anchor up along with part of the bottom of the sea bed. It seemed the logical choice being so strong and close to the bow. But wait wouldn’t you know that the line I was going to use was about six feet too short. No problem, we have lots of line on this sailing ship. A couple of bowline knots to secure the two pieces of line together and we were back in business. The anchor windlass, AKA Binford 5000, was ready for deployment. Pop! The halyard was free and sliding down the furling tube. Although something wasn’t right. The furling upper bearing assembly is supposed to have a straight piece of stainless ¼” bar attached to it. It was when I attached the line to it at the top. Well now it is facing the east all prostrate bent over as if praying to Mohamed. As I looked at it, I thought that’s not good. My first thought was that I might have a spare. The operative word is thought. Well, I couldn’t find it which means I have one and it is in a safe place onboard Dazzler. Or, had one at one time and have since removed it from Dazzler. No matter that issue. I needed to use what I had and this bar was not going to see straight ever again. There was hope, I was able to cut off the badly bent lower section just below another threaded hole. I then took to it like a blacksmith trying to straighten a horse shoe. A few hardy blows later it looked straight enough to work for now. I slathered it up with tefgel and secured it back on the upper furling bearing. Tada! Tefgel is a chemical that insulates dissimilar metals such as stainless steel and aluminum and assists in minimizing a thing called electrolysis. A common product found on boats.
Next was to examine the empty hole where the D shackle used to be. It was obvious that the shackle had not broken as there where no pieces left attached. The only thing I can guess is that back in La Cruz we had the Jib and staysail off of Dazzler to have a once over by Mike at PV Sailing for any stitching or other needed repairs. We also had taken our Yankee headsail in to have an ultraviolet cover added to it.
After getting the sails back we put up the Jib and the staysail. The D shackles used on the furling system had indexed pins. This is a pin that passes through on one side of the shackle and threads into the other side of the shackle. When it gets close to bottoming out, there are small detentes that the head of the pin start to click against thus preventing the pin from backing out. In theory.
Once we got the yankee sail back from Mike, we needed to drop the Jib and hoist up the yankee to make sure the UV cover fit right. Well it did fit as designed. So off with the yankee and back on with the Jib. I don’t know for sure, but when I was reattaching the Jib, I thought that I should mouse the shackle pin. Well I didn’t. For you cliff dwellers out there, it doesn’t mean a trip to Pet’s Mart to get a mouse. No, mousing would be using a piece of twine or in my case a small piece of stainless steel wire in a figure eight between the shackle and the eye of the pin to prevent it from working lose and or out altogether. It is my opinion that the shackle pin worked lose and then finally let go resulting in the Jib getting its Saturday night bath a little early.
As every good cruising sailor knows that a small chandlery on board is a must. Drawer after drawer of spare parts. Jilly said once, we should inventory that drawer. I told her we don’t have enough time. There are so many different screws and pieces specific to one part onboard. As I would fix things over the last 15 years, I would always get two parts or specialty fasteners. An extra just in case the plop is not followed by the fizz fizz. You have another one to use without having to stop and go back to the marine store. But more importantly, if that piece broke once it will likely break again when I’m not near any chandlery. So spares are a good thing. A friend of mine says travel light you can always buy clothes when you get there.
Back on target now. So I went to the rigging hardware drawer and found a couple of suitable D shackles. The one I wanted to use had a bit thicker pin than what used to be on the housing of the upper furling bearing. No trouble for the Super Drill Out 2000. A quick run through and the pin now fit like a glove.
Time to get this Rodeo over and award the buckles. Putting it all back together and hoisting the Jib. Dazzler’s main Jib isn’t a little sail. It is a 140% Jib and it’s foot is about 24 feet long, the mast above the deck is 48 feet tall. So as you can see there is a lot of sail area to wrestle with. We positioned Dazzler a bit more downwind to blanket the wind from the Jib so it wouldn’t be too wild of a ride for Jilly. I decided to be the muscle to hoist the sail, but Jilly had to be at the forward end of the bowsprit to guide the number six luff into the track of the roller furling tube. Away we go, inch by inch the Jib crept up the tube of the roller furling unit. Jilly on the bowsprit with her toenails dug into the wooded planks gripping the luff edge of the sail and guiding it into the track. She was something to be proud of. Inch by inch the Jib glided up the track until it was fully hoisted. We trimmed her up, put the tools away and then started gathering electronic checking information for the afternoon radio Net to start in about 30 minutes.
From zero, shaking the sleepy out of my eyes to climbing the mast to done. Two and a half hours. Okay, I’m done now. No more surprises like that please.
On a side note, having a broad collection of spares, parts and tools assisted in the proper fix to this preventable issue. My fault, I should have listened to that little voice that said mouse the shackle in the first place. Moral, see Dan. Dan didn’t mouse the shackle, don’t be like Dan. Mouse your shackle! Especially if it’s at or near the mast head.
As Felix the cat would say, “Right E O.” Safe travels to all out there.
PS Grape Ape was happy that it wasn’t his fault. Okay Grape Ape, you can stop jumping up and down now.
4.14.18 @ 1000 Local, 1700 Zulu Day #22