It was finally calm enough in Woburn Bay to replace the toggles on the big fat wires holding up our mast. You’ll remember that one of them broke when we were in Dominica and we managed to cobble a used replacement on the spot. Now we have two brand new ones to start the next leg of our journey and the old ones will be backups.
Macushla Mark brought his experience, expertise and calm assurance to our side decks on Sunday morning. He and Jack had the toggles replaced and the rig retensioned in short order while I mostly stayed below pretending I wasn’t scared to death the mast would go overboard when they removed the turnbuckles. All is well now and we have confidence in our standing rigging. Now we just have to replace the rest of the running rigging — the ropes — and we’ll be all set.
I know you think all we ever do is fix our boat. It may seem like that, but it’s part of this lifestyle that your boat is your home, your power station, your transport. There’s a lot to maintain, and even with spot on maintenance, sh*t happens.
Last week we said goodbye to What If, hugging them and fighting back tears. We were pretty sure we wouldn’t see them again forever, as they were sailing north the next day, back up island, back to the states, back to real life for a while. We met them in Port Washington, NY, well over a year ago and they’ve been our on-and-off companions, advisors and rescuers since then. It’s so hard to say goodbye to friends.
The next morning we dinghied to the veggie lady at Le Phar Bleu and ran into Lisa from Day Dreamer.
“Did you hear about What If?”
“Yeah,” I said. “They left this morning.”
“No, they’re back. They broke a shroud.”
Holy cow! That’s a sailor’s nightmare. The shrouds are the thick wires on the sides of the boat that hold up the mast. Catamarans have very simple rigs with no redundancy so if a shroud breaks you are in serious danger of losing the mast overboard.
What If is one of the best maintained boats we know. Kris is up the mast regularly to inspect the rigging and service all the bits up there. Nothing would escape her inspection.
We raced over to see them and by the time we got there Kris had already been up the mast to rig a temporary shroud while they looked into their options for replacement. They told us they were sailing along fine when they heard a loud PING, looked up and saw the shroud wobbling like crazy near the top of the mast. They dropped the mainsail and used the main halyard to reinforce the weakened and mostly broken shroud, then rigged other unused halyards to make sure the mast was well supported as they slowly motored back to the anchorage. Rigging wire is a big fat twist of 19 smaller wires and all but six had broken just at the end of the fitting that connects it to the top of the mast. No amount of inspection would have picked that up.
In two days they had new shrouds ready to go and asked if we would help. Now, we’re not a whole lot of help but Jack tailed Kris’s safety line while she went up the mast twice, once for each shroud, and we kibitzed and consulted on tensioning once they were installed. I even held a wrench at one point.
Their experience caused us to think through what we would do in a similar situation. It’s good to envision these emergencies so you can react quickly if it happens. We hope it doesn’t.
With the rigging replaced, we said goodbye again. We hope to catch up with What If up island, but it’s looking less likely as time goes on and we sit here waiting for weather. Still, there’s always email, and you never really say goodbye to friends.