Brazil to The Falklands – Day 3

Reading: Meantime (Frankie Boyle) (not really reading weather at the moment)
Weather: Mostly dry and occasionally sunny. Wind E4-5 gusting 6 …..
Thought for the day: Never stand under a boom ….
Evening meal: Vegetarian couscous with figs, dates, raisins and walnuts baked in cheese with a mango salad
Course: 160-180oC
Distance covered: At 1200 we had covered 338 miles (Log 4,523)
Wildlife headcount: A few boobies of various types ….

Bang ….. bang ….. Not sounds you ever really want to hear on a boat and worse still twice in a day. The day started off being not stunningly comfortable with the seas still confused, but we were making good progress at between 7 and 9 knots a lot of the time. That was until about 11am anyway. I was on the helm and then came the first bang. This was quickly followed by a loud flapping. From the standard helm position, you can’t actually see the jib, so my immediate thought was that I had gone dramatically off course, but Erik, sat to windward, called that the jib had gone. Jet was called and we immediately headed off downwind to recover it. This was tricky as it turned out that the ring holding the tack had parted, so we had to recover it by pulling on the sheet while the halyard was lowered. It came down though and was placated on deck. We tried instead to hoist another jib, but with a free flying luff this didn’t really work upwind, so this came down again as well. Both were then folded and put back on the centre deck.

Back to normal …. we thought. At the evening watch changeover we lowered the main to check for chafe at the throat. All the sacrificial pieces of wood had been taken off in Brazil and Jet had sanded and varnished the mast so she wanted to check the throat. This had been hoisted with an extra piece of cloth on it to try to prevent chafe. The irony was though that the chafe wasn’t to this, it was to the topping lift. As we went through a couple of big waves there was again a sudden bang (with me on the helm again!) and the boom came crashing down to leeward. The impact smashed the end of the belaying pin rail aft to starboard, but far more importantly, everyone was to windward. The weight of the boom crashing down was like a tree falling – the weight is huge of a boom around 40cm in diameter and 10 metres long. The culprit was chafe to the port topping lift which was taking to load at the time. It had chafed through where it went round the block at the top of the mast and despite being dyneema had suddenly given up the ghost.

The rest of day was arguably more normal. The speed is down quite a bit without the jib and the main, but we are still making 6-7 knots with some easting under just staysail and reefed mizzen, so for the moment that fits with the plan. Now though we need a new plan for reeving a new topping lift. It will require going up the mast so that will have to wait until conditions change.