Friday, May 12, 2006

Why does it always happen at night?

Day 6 of our passage to the Galapagos. Position 12 May 2006 16.30 GMT 03 degrees, 32 minutes north, 82 degrees, 8 minutes west. 515 miles to go. Progress since our last update continued in the same dire fashion, we were stuck for 3 days in hideous current, with everything against us, our friends Matt & Togs on Helene were in the same area and also managing about 1.5 knots mostly in the wrong direction. In the end we stuck on the engine and used more of our precious fuel to plough through, still slowly, but eventually made it past this tiny Columbian Island which was our landmark. Yesterday afternoon we were finally making really good speed sailing in roughly the right direction. The mood on R2 lifted and we had a lovely afternoon and evening. Andrew even caught a small Tuna but he was too small so we returned him alive. We have had two boobies (birds) flying along with us for the last three days - Peter & Paul (original but....). Yesterday afternoon we received an email from our friends Will & Alyssa on Ragtime to say their backstay had broken (the thing that holds the mast up from the back) but that they had rigged a temporary fix and were doing okay motor sailing. We spoke with them on our net, which Will is running superbly, and they were pretty happy with the fix and don't have too far to go so we all agreed to speak in the morning as well to check on them and off we went. We had a great evening, speeding along, roast beef for dinner, full moon, calm seas - perfect! Then about 2300 I was sleeping and Andrew was on watch when we heard this almighty bang. We thought we'd hit a floating container but then noticed OUR backstay flogging at the back of the boat. We couldn't believe it. We quickly took down the sails and clung on to this 50 ft wire bouncing all around in the swell with all our might. Luckily ReVision II has a keel stepped mast (it goes through the deck to the keel,rather than sitting on the deck) and running backstays (moveable wires to counterbalance the sails) which were in place towards the back of the boat at the time, otherwise we could certainly have lost our mast(...doesn't bear thinking about 500 miles to go, no mast and not enough fuel to get there). A metal plate 1/4 inches thick had broken in two places - unbelievable. After an hour of struggling Andrew was able to temporarily secure the stay and the mast to the boat before tensioning the rig again. This was an okay fix so we put some of the sails up again and cautiously sailed off. When we went to send an email to our friends to let them know our predicament we found our radio was not working - the backstay acts as the antenna. We were worried that if the fix didn't hold we would not be able to make radio contact with the boats nearby. Andrew remade the connection to the backstay but still no luck. We decided we needed to get some sleep and would start again in the morning. This morning Andrew climbed under the steering deep in the stern locker and found where the radio connector came through - while the backstay was swinging around the electrical terminal had been pulled off. Good news - Andrew was able to replace the terminal just in time for our morning contact with the Panama Pacific Net. It was such a relief to be in contact with the outside world. We had a feeling we had seen some spare rigging parts deep in the bilges of ReVision II so I set about lifting floorboards and discovered just the thing we needed. So down came the sails again and we tentatively removed the backstay again. Andrew was able to fit the replacement end to the turnbuckle (the thing that tensions the rig and links the stay to the chainplate in the deck) and tension the rig once again. We feel very very lucky to have got through this experience and very lucky to have the parts we needed on the boat - some people believe their is a fairy watching over each boat on the ocean - we want to thank our fairy for being there through this. Now on we go speedly at last - those tortoises better be worth it!

PS sorry for the technical stuff. It's been a tough few days but we are sailing again and the weather is beautiful and calm has returned to R2

PPS Ive saved you from news of the exploded furler which controls the stay sail, the fused inverter which charges the computer and the engine leaking oil as they didnt't seem too important in the scheme of things.

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