We try to keep things family friendly here on the blog site. There are a lot of words I could have used in the title, but ‘dang it’ pretty much sums it up. While we’ve been playing ‘musical anchorages’ in San Diego, other things have been happening and not all of them involve sitting in the cockpit drinking wine with friends. Some of them involve frustrating turns of events that could, if we had worse manners, have resulted in words being thrown across the water in frustration, only to land in someone’s tender ear. So even though I thought my next post would be about the Cruiser’s anchorage in San Diego, it’s not. It’s about this episode, which is filed under ‘it ain’t all pretty sunsets and tequila, people’. If you follow us on our Facebook Page you’ll already have been among the first to know this story.
Newsflash: There are always projects going on aboard Galapagos. It’s a big boat, it’s an old boat, and some of the systems on board are getting a bit long in the old tooth. Even though we are kind of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ types, sometimes that’s not the best way to go. Today, it looks like we paid a price for putting off something we should have done back in June. I say ‘looks like’ because I’m still not certain it wouldn’t have happened anyhow. Here’s our tale of woe.
Our boat has an old Profurl headsail furler. For the non-sailors, that is the thing you see on the pointy part of the boat that allows you to pull a string to unfurl the big sail in the front, then pull another string to roll it back up. The idea is that you then have your sail ready to go all the time. It’s supposed to make things easy. And generally it does. Until it doesn’t. Lately Mike had been noticing that the furler unit was a little stiff; it was hard to get it to turn. He’d look up at the top of the forestay but couldn’t see anything amiss. That’s because the mast is more than 50 feet from the deck of the boat, so it’s a long way up. Even with binoculars, it’s hard to see that one small little area on a moving boat in the glare of the brilliant California sunshine.
Yesterday (while he was sick enough to cough up a lung) he was putting on the new jib lines (see, we really DO keep upgrading things) and he needed to unfurl the headsail a bit so he could reach the old lines and untie them. The thing didn’t want to unfurl. Hmmm. He looks high and low, then notices he can now see with his naked eye some fraying at the top of the halyard. The NEW halyard. That’s not a good sign. “We’ve got a problem”, he says. “What else is new?”, I think. He puts ‘go up the mast and look at that dang fraying’ on his never-ending list of things to do before we get to Mexico, coughs up his other lung, and goes about his business getting the new jib lines attached to the sail. I sigh deeply and go back to whatever I was doing.
A few minutes later he pops his head down the hatch and says we now have a REAL problem. The fraying he noticed was the harbinger of doom that was REAL problem: The halyard has just snapped while he was standing there. Literally. He hadn’t touched anything. It just snapped and popped down into the mast. Let’s just pause for a moment of silence while all the sailors who read this heave a huge collective sigh. I know you’ve been there when it comes to halyards in the mast. So now we have a broken BRAND NEW halyard, an unscheduled trip up the mast to trouble shoot this, and possibly more parts we need to get before we can leave for Mexico. By the way, that’s just a few short days away.
On the one hand, DANG IT! And other more forceful words. But if you are going to survive this lifestyle, you have to look at the bright side of things and the bright sides are considerable, including that we were anchored at La Playa and rafted up to friends on S/V Blue when this happened, not racing across the water on a nice broad reach. Also we are not in Mexico, land where finding parts for sailing boats is not easy and importing them from the U.S. is expensive and not for the faint of heart. Not to mention the usual language barrier.
So we hoist Mike and his deadly cough up the mast to assess this latest turn of events and he sees that somehow the halyard has wrapped around and rubbed against the halyard swivel at top of the furler. The friction created has actually melted the side and created a sharp edge. In a Hercule Poirot moment, he found tiny pieces of shredded halyard caught on that little hook in the photo. This sharpened edge sawed through just enough of the splice for the entire splice to let go. Oy.
These Profurl units have a ‘wrap stop’ that is supposed to keep the halyard from getting wrapped around the forestay and this is where our powerfully bad decision making came in. (Also in reading on the interweb about this problem, I see that it’s a common problem with the Profurl units and that leads me to surmise that it’s a poor design. Which leads me to mistrust it in the future. Which leads me to want a new furler, which we probably need because this one has been nothing but trouble and Mike has had to fix several issues with it on this trip already. I see a newer furler unit being carried in a suitcase in our future because we can’t really get one right now.)
This summer we had a rigger climb the mast and to have a look around. He told us that ‘wrap preventer’ was worn and would need replacing. So we ordered a new one. But we didn’t replace it right away. Why? Let’s not even go there. The ‘why’ gets lost in all the other things we were doing at the time, all the projects and details and all that stuff. We probalby could have used a project manager for all the projects we had going at once. It wasn’t broke, so we didn’t fix it. Now it’s broke, and so is our halyard. Pretty much that sums it up. Dang it. Do we feel like rubes? We do. Oh well. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.
So here’s where we are at: we have the part. We pulled the halyard down, reversed it, and pulled the good end back up the mast so now Mike can do the eye splice on the end and it will be ready to go again. He’ll install the new ‘wrap stop’, and when everything is put back together I’ll pull the headsail out while we are tied to the dock and he can watch the unit working from his perch at the top of the mast. We still cannot figure out how that halyard had enough slack to get against that piece of plastic and create that much friction. The angle must be all wrong. And this is what he will observe in situ. Then he can decide if further action needs taking.
Yes, we are at the visitor’s dock at Shelter Island until this is sorted. It’s 1$/foot, no matter what size slip you get. So we got the slip where you can pull straight in with no turns and it’s terrific. There is zero security here, and apparently some nefarious goings-on happen here. But there is electricity, which we needed for a different issue I’ll write about later. And there is unlimited water. Our decks are looking grungy and could use a rinse. Galapagos is sparkling in the sun with all the salt on her. S/V Blue pulled in next to us. So it’s all good.
So far, we’re still on target. S/V Galapagos, out.