Just like Roland the Volvo diesel mechanic has his Jesus Clip, we Manta Catamaran owners have our own version of the Jesus Clip. It’s one of the first stories I ever heard on Mantatech, a Yahoo group just for Manta owners, former owners, supervisors, designers, workmen, don’t even bother, you have to own one. We couldn’t even log in until they were sure we owned Escape Velocity. It’s a great group and a real lifesaver for a guy like me.
Mantas come with a rare bit of kit called a camber spar, I’ve made my peace with it but it took a while. It’s not important how it works but it has a heavy metal tube that is curved inside a pocket sewn into the jib sail. The tricky bit is how it attaches the jib to the forestay, and here is the Jesus part. On the front end of the Camber spar is a wheel that rolls up and down the forestay and on the other side, drumroll, a staykeeper! Never heard of it? Me neither. Manta folklore says to never try to bend on a Manta jib unless you are securely tied to a dock. Have I mentioned that our old jib has growing tears that are getting larger every minute? We went up on the tramps to mend the tears and realized that our old jib has seen its last rodeo.
I got out the Manta bible and looked up the Camber spar thingamajig and saw that the staykeeper came in two models. Ours has the bolt instead of the oft lost pin so no worries. Guys with the pin model say that when you lose yours, and you will, buy a half dozen.
Worry mate, worry. We sussed out the order of disassembly and got to work.
I’d have to say difficult but not impossible. Might have been easier if we weren’t out bobbing around in the Atlantic. The last bit of torture was assembling the…wait for it…staykeeper! Marce my faithful #1 was by my side hanging on out on the tramps. I looked at all the stuff in my hands and knew that if I dropped the…staykeeper…we would have no jib, at least one with a camber spar in it, and we still have a long way to go.
So I handed it to Marce.
Much more sure handed than me. Well this last bit is one of those fiddly things that takes finesse and brut force while holding on to little custom fittings, while trying to stay on the boat.
I saw it all in slow motion again. First it squirted out of her fingers spinning backwards flashing in the sunlight, bounced once on the fiberglass crossbeam, I had a thought that if I didn’t have all these parts in my hand I could make a dive for it, then it took on frontward rotation and disappeared into the steel blue Atlantic.
The look on her face was heartbreaking but I can’t imagine what my expression looked like. After writing the big book of salty sailorly expressions, I was calm enough to listen to her idea of how to improvise a solution. I was sure I could never find a shackle with anything close to the exact dimensions…but I did!
Close but not quite, It took hours of hard work and a certain amount of persuasion, but we made it work. Our new jib is bent on and if we had any wind it would be pulling us right along right now.
Now, where can you find a spare staykeeper?