Having your standing rigging fail is probably the top fear of many sailors out there; myself included! Fortunately breaking a fitting on the forestay on a sunny day in 15 knots of wind and calm waters is probably the best circumstance to experience a rig failure.
The sun is high in the sky and the sea is nearly calm with only the occasional ripple. With a deadline to meet and only with 5kts of wind off our port beam, we are motor-sailing from our home port at Pacific Playgrounds in Campbell River towards Prideaux Haven in Desolation Sound for a three day Easter weekend get-away. We pass 100 meters from the Northern side of Mitlenatch at 12:30pm with nary a problem. Throttling down, we hear the cries of the Glaucous-winged gulls and see the cacti that this marine park is world famous for.
Soon after passing Mitlenatch Island, the wind abruptly dies and I furl in the genoa. This is slightly disappointing as this was supposed a 'sailing' trip... not a 'motoring' trip. However, I accept what Mother Nature has dished out and take to enjoying some music by local artists and working on my tan on the foredeck as the trusty auto helm manages the tiller.
As we traverse between Hernando and the Twin Islands a south easterly wind begins to build and soon hits a consistent 15kts over the calm waters – about as perfect sailing as it gets! With the wind off out starboard beam I begin to unfurl the genoa. The furling unit allows 2 or 3 revolutions before it becomes jammed. I figure that maybe sand had freed itself up when we unfurled and furled to motor-sail earlier and had seized a bearing, or maybe the furling line rode over itself? Whatever the reason, it shouldn’t be a big issue.
I clambered onto the foredeck and took a seat with my legs draped over either side of the bow. Taking hold of the furling unit and inspected the furling line which revealed it hadn’t knotted itself up or caused any other problems, so I begin to twist the furling unit by hand to slowly feed out our genoa again. Experiencing little resistance I continue to slowly feed out the genoa a few revolutions with no problem until a loud CRACK suddenly reverberates though the boat. The furling system, foil and forestay fall limp.
Shocked, I try and understand what has happened! Noticing that both the backstay and furling system have fallen limp I realize we have somehow caused part of the forestay to fail. With a deck stepped mast in a tabernacle that allows it to pivot backwards easily, I begin to worry. Any wake will cause the mast to teeter in the tabernacle. In a moment of true teenage MacGyver’ing I hurry to the cockpit, grab the closest piece of line I can find, which happens to be a spare spinnaker halyard and tie a rolling hitch as high on the mast as my 5’10 frame can reach, tension it as tight as I can muster and cleat it off at the bow cleat. I scurry back to the cockpit and make sure to tension the genoa halyard down to provide additional support.
I take a moment to comprehend what has happened and what we should do. Our deck stepped mast is in a relatively precarious position without a forestay, so sailing is out of the question. Not wanting to spoil an Easter weekend getaway I decide against turning back. Instead, I decide to cut our trip short and make a run under engine power only for the closest harbor which happens to be Cortes Bay on the backside of Cortes Island. We enter the narrow rocky entrance at low tide but pass through without a problem.
As we enter we see the number of yacht clubs and beautiful homes that populate this bay. On the opposite side of the bay hidden amongst the extravagant homes, docks and clubhouses we see the government dock which has just enough space on the upwind side to squeeze all 7.5 meters of us in. As we reach the dock it takes only a couple of round turns and half hitches to feel a sense of relief.
On another note, I am planning on putting together a raffle soon! There shall be some awesome prizes!
Today I also contacted two local businesses that I really think are a great fit for us sponsor-wise. I hope that they come through and become sponsors!