In the morning I blew my nose and dried my eyes (just kidding) and took stock of the situation. There was a chance that just enough wind might develop during the day to allow me to start sailing, but in the meantime I might as well take advantage of the calm sea and good weather to do some deck work.
The first job on the agenda was to check the rigging which I will now describe. The mast is 50 ft long and known in Fremantle as a "lamp post" because of its large section and thick walls. It is a masthead rig, with the backstay attached at the top of the mast. The shrouds are all in line with the mast, each attached to one chainplate on each side of the mast, inboard from the gunwale. This layout of the shrouds is probably due to the S&S 39's design as an IOR ocean racer where the boom was to be able to be moved as far forward as possible. There are two sets of crosstrees with three shrouds on each side: D1, the lowers attached to the roots of the first set of crosstrees; D2, the intermediates attached to the roots of the second set of crosstrees; and D3, the cap shrouds, attached to the top of the mast. I measured the wire diameters and all of the wires except the D3's are of 10 mm diameter, or a shade over 3/8". The D1's are thinner, of 7 mm or 5/16" diameter. (I couldn't see the forestay wire but I'd be shocked if it wasn't 10 mm like the backstay.)
I had noticed that when going to windward the leeward D1's became slack. Some slackness is to be expected because as far as I can see the D1's have the hardest life of the lot. When beating to windward everything conspires to bend the mast at the middle to leeward: the heel of the boat, the transfer of stress from the D2 and cap shrouds to the mast through the crosstrees, and the compression load on the mast. And unfortunately the D1 offers the poorest angle of incidence to the mast. Having said all that, I thought that the D1's were becoming too slack. The conditions were perfect for this sort of work because the roll of the boat helped me to make a better assessment of the tensions. Not having to clip to a lifeline helped too because I was able to cross to each side of the deck without going through the cockpit and changing life lines. In the end I tightened the D1 turnbuckles 1.5 turns on each side. The tension on the D2's and D3's felt OK to me so I did not tighten them. (Incidentally, the D1's had been replaced in Hawaii on spec and I carry the original D1's as spares.)
Then I looked at the forestay. This is a difficult one because one must deal with the weight of the rolled up headsail when pushing on the forestay to try to sense the tension and see the amount of travel in the wire. Although I had witnessed no tell tale oscillations of the wire when under sail I made the judgment that some tightening would be prudent. Tensioning the forestay at the Profurl roller is a tricky business with the danger of dropping something overboard and I would not do it at sea unless I was forced to. Fortunately Dan at Port Townsend Rigging had suggested that I put a forward bias to the mast so that a certain amount of tensioning could be made at the backstay. I had sailed out of La Paz with a perpendicular mast and therefore had quite a bit of scope of tensioning the forestay via the backstay, which is a much easier and safer operation. I wound up giving the backstay turnbuckle 3 turns.
As I did this work I had a good look at the rest of the rigging and found everything to be in order. I then used a 13 mm spanner to check the tension on the top nuts of that U bolt deck fitting that I had installed a few days earlier and gave them each a half a turn. At the end of this work (end entry of this blog item) it was 11 AM and the wind was from the NW but still at less than 6 knots (sigh!)
I began work on the next project, which was to fit the sun shade over the starboard side of the spray dodger where 1/3 of the window had been bashed out by a flailing sheet. Mark had advised me to sew the shade on and not rely solely on the metal fasteners, and that made a lot of sense. Unfortunately it meant a sewing job for me. I had had a go with the ordinary sewing kit that had done me so well in repairing clothing, but had been forced to give up the effort because the thread kept breaking. This time I used the items in the sail repair kit and found that with the larger needle, stronger thread, and leather palm I could actually sew the material. The first task was to repair a tear in one corner of the spray dodger itself lest it run and get much bigger. Once that was done I would attend to sewing on the sun screen which would not be easy because I'd have to be working from both sides of the dodger. I could see no way other than to push the needle from one side then go to the other and push the needle back. This was going to take a long time but the effort would be well worth it.
Anyway, I was finishing off the first inch of threading when the wind came out almost exactly at noon. It was weak - about 8 knots - but was from the WNW, which would give us a good point of sail. I rolled out some headsail and got us moving at the glorious speed of 1.3 knots but it was just enough to allow Jeff to steer us. I then hoisted the staysail and with both sails drawing we were soon making 2 knots to the SSE. After 15.5 hours of lying ahull we were moving again.
Our noon position was 34S06, 119W36, giving us a risible n-n distance of 9.5 miles. That's right, LESS THAN TEN MILES IN ONE DAY.
I woke up at 2 PM after my post lunch nap to find the wind up to 12 knots from the W. I didn't waste much time in bringing up the mainsail with two reefs which took our speed from 2.5 kt to 4 kt and we were moving nicely to the SSE. It was a mostly clear and sunny day with a large swell coming from the SW. I went below to have a cup of tea and begin forgetting the previous 24 hours.
At 5 PM with the wind having remained steady at 11-12 kt from the west I shook out the second reef which left us on a beam reach with one reef in the mainsail, the staysail, and a bit of headsail, headed S-SSE. I had finished stitching that tear in the fabric of the spray dodger. It was a horrible looking job but I thought that it would hold. Stitching on the sun cover would have to wait for better conditions. There was too much wind about for sewing. (YES!!!) The latest 48 hour (H+48) MSLP weather fax showed a couple of lows at my latitude, but their pressures were so high (1013 and 1015 hPa) that they were lows only in relation to the two highs along this band of latitude, at 1022 and 1017 hPa. To me it looked like one very long ridge. What this meant for my winds in two days I could not say, but I was hoping that the deep lows further south would dominate with their west winds.
I seem to slow this boat down as often as I speed it up. At 8 PM the apparent wind was over 20 knots and we were hammering pretty hard at 5.5 knots into a rough sea. I bore 10 degrees of the wind and rolled in the headsail to put us at a more comfortable 4-4.5 knots. Our course was good at SE.
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