Thursday, June 28, 2012


While I think the whole family agrees that overall, we wouldn’t trade  our cruises for anything (except perhaps Port Ludlow in near freezing March) the first few hours are always an adjustment period. There is apparently a mandatory transition from land to sea that involves lots of squealing and taunting and complaining about this that and the other thing with threats from me of making them separate or, heaven forbid, come up in the cabin with me.  After a couple of hours, it calms down and they start playing nicely until precisely an hour before arrival when the “are we there yet”’s start.  Arrival represents the end of the transition and the beginning of the adventure.

On our way to Langley, I was single handing with the kids down below and mom was to meet us by car the next morning.  We were in the thick of the transition.  While the Around Whidbey racers were giving up due to lack of wind on the West side, we were in 20 knot winds according to a couple of anemometer equipped sailors we met in Langley.  Annie was squealing because of Maggie.  Jack was telling on Annie and Maggie was squealing just because she could. I was struggling to get the sails up in the stiff breeze and the tiller wasn’t having the easiest of times keeping us into the wind.  I had set the tiller pilot, raised the main, and went to raise the jib, but couldn’t find the halyard. After a couple of seconds of a ‘this does not compute’ moment, I looked up to find it streaming from the masthead, apparently tangled in the top of the mainsail track. I managed to furl the main, retrieve the halyard, and re-tie the missing stop knot.  (I’m fairly fastidious about stop knots, and there was clear evidence of a previous one in the stiff old line, so me-thinks that helpful little fingers were at work.)  I hoisted the main, and then the jib.  The wind was heavy, so I used the winch handle.  I killed the motor and set for a close haul. 

Immediately , something wasn’t right with the main. I looked up and found the wire jib halyard wrapped taught around leech, caught on a baton.  There was about a 10 inch tear.  While I paused for a few seconds to think about the best course of action the tear started to grow.  By the time I got the halyard free of the winch, the tear was half way to the luff. I don’t recall the sequence of the next 10 minutes, just the loosely attached highlights.  I had fully furled the jib and we probably lost steerage, causing the boat to fall off, which healed the boat and put a lot of pressure on the main. The tear went all the way to the luff under the pressure. 

I had many thoughts. – despair at the prospect of having to buy a new main.  - should I cancel the trip?  - joy at the prospect of a new main.  I decided to continue the trip.  Our destination was directly up wind and without the mainsail, I wasn’t able to point very well.  Our VMG was only about two knots and we had eight to go, so I furled the jib for the third time and motored.  I took the sail pieces to a newly minted sail maker in the club named Tony.  The good news was that he could fix it. The bad news was that he could fix it.  Smile  A week later, h returned ‘Frankensail’ and cruised to Poulsbo.Poulsbo return  Can you spot Frankensail’s stitches?

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