Saturday, 21 June 2014

Two times in this season one of our lower shrouds has broke. The first time it happened, we were at anchor in St. Barth. One morning we heard a bump on the deck, and it turned out that the rig fitting that is placed on the wire in the mast had snapped. Henrik changed it in St. Martin and planned to change the rest, when we got to the US. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get there, before another one broke. And this time almost 200 nm from shore!

When it happened, we were under engine towards Newport from the last fumes in the tank, so with an unsecure rig and only 10 litres of diesel in an extra tank, we were not the happiest of sailors!

One day earlier, an Irish boat we knew from the Atlantic Odyssey had caught up with us. They had problems with the counter current as well and therefore followed our tail after we had deciphered the weather guru Chris Parker’s mail about which waypoints to follow.

(Sometimes our wind steering was very uncooperative, though, so it must have looked like we had been given a very specific route!) For 24 hours they followed us in and out of eddies, and that turned out to be our luck.

Our Irish friends had earlier offered us diesel, because they had several tanks on the deck, but we had told them no thanks, because we expected that we would get enough wind to get to shore. It didn't take us long to change our minds, though, when the shroud fell down. Our

saviours sailed up next to us and threw a rope to us with a tank tied to the end. We emptied the diesel into the tank and sent it back gratefully!

With 20 litres of diesel in the tank we sailed carefully under sail towards Newport. The wind was coming from SW, so the mast was kept in place by the rigging on the port side, which was still intact. When we were app. 30 nm from shore, the wind abated, and once again we found ourselves in counter current. The waves were short and choppy, so the mast was constantly wobbling, while we tried to fight our way forward against the current and waves. When the wind picked up again, it came from NE – and blew 30–40 knots! Henrik was so scared that the mast would break, so he tied a rope to the mast just beneath the spreaders to support it. In the meantime it got freezing cold, so he had to find a hat and gloves. (I was also cold in my leeboard berth, which Henrik let me stay in all night, so that probably doesn't count).

At last, we were protected by land and early Wednesday morning we arrived in Newport under engine thanks to our Irish cruising friends. Henrik said afterwards that it was the worst sail he’s ever had. So we better get that rigging changed now!

Signe Storr Freelance Journalist and friend of Boatshed