A comedy/catastrophe of mishaps

We’ve finally tacked and are heading back to land, which means the moon (and the sun later) is rising over the starboard side of the boat.

Just after midday we are able to turn the engines off and continue to make good progress averaging over 7kn, even breaking our record of sailing more than an hour!!

In fact it’s over 6 hours and even though the sea is a bit choppy, it’s actually v nice. A different motion on the cat to get used to mind.

So what changed? Well a huge bang pretty much did for it as the mainsail ripped itself from it’s clew!!! Just after shift change from Bernice to Huw. Richard had just started dinner, too.

Well then it was fun and games for the next two hours, as we initially put a reef in, Huw got soaked as soon as he went up to the mast. The engines, or one even would have been useful to steer the boat head to wind to assist here but neither would start. We got the reef in with quite a bit of difficulty, the headsail continually backing and hindering our progress. Richard trying hard to keep her stable, then the reefing line breaks! We’ve lost count, four, five times maybe this has happened….

The boys try to put the 2nd reef in but without steerage it’s not happening. They decide to bring the main down and concentrate on trying to get an engine going with what daylight is left – it’s now after 7. Neither battery is particularly happy. Richard brings in a house battery (batteries are separate for starting the engine and all other power needs onboard) and try that. It makes no difference (portside) and in fact he thinks the starter motor is had it, we don’t have a spare.

It’s now after nine and darkness is almost upon us so we decide to have dinner and mull over the problems. Bernice carried in preparing it while the boys looked at the engines.

Hhmm…. The sail repair could take a week or more when we get into port. How we get into port is another matter altogether. We were on course and about 120nm away when things went pear shaped, with an eta of ~0600 at the entrance to Cabo. We are now sailing on headsail alone and thankfully there is enough wind to pull us along. But we’re now a bit off course and without the engines we’ll struggle to get there as the wind will be on our nose if/when we need to turn in.

So it looks like daylight is now required and a fresh head to fix one or more of the engines to see us in. Meanwhile we’ll sail through the night as we are.

The wind dies off a bit, not that it was that strong anyway, maybe 15-18kts giving us a sailing average of 7-8kts. The sea was a bit lumpy as we said but nothing major. Which gets you thinking. The next leg, always going to be the long one, is some way offshore too. There’s no plan to go into port over the next 3-4 weeks after thus next stop, in fact that far off shore there’s no option. So having not met much bad weather yet, by that we mean strong winds, and having had so many major issues with the boat:
– Starboard engine – repeatedly not wanting to start
– Port engine – issue with air which turned out to be fuel line to filter blockage
– Port engine not starting – as yet unknown
– Mainsail – sail coming away from clew at mast needing repair
– Reefing lines breaking – one and two al least twice each
– Cat 1 headsail – track sheering and coming away from the deck, resulting in it and car flying across the deck, then sheet coming lose and also flying across deck
– Mainsail – sail ripping right off of clew at end of sail (apparently only 2 years old)
– Shrouds – both needed tightening

Other things to note:
– Hydraulic pump for the steering squeals – is it the next thing to go?
– Autopilot has a habit of turning itself off at inconvenient times irritating under engine, potentially a disaster when sailing
– Wind instruments not working while on starboard tack
– Forestay is very lose
– Bed leak – our bed although not crucial was leaking in water from an engine vent

Doesn’t leave us with much confidence that a three/four week passage with no stops (or chance of stops) is a good idea. We have done a week at most in one go so far, but have always been able to make land within 24 hours if required). Especially as the further north we go the colder and more miserable the weather will get and the thought of what happened today or similar happening in the middle of a wet, windy night are not pleasant.

So regardless of whether there are any more money issues or how long the sail might take to get repaired this time, we really have to think about how safe it is to continue…. But best not to discuss openly just yet, let’s get safely into harbour first, just in case we jinks our chances.

It would be nice to say the rest of the night went without a hitch but… The cat 1 headsail unfurled itself on it’s roller reefing and the boys had to go up forward to get it back in, the furling lead lives right forward on the starboard bow.

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