Down but not out

It was bound to happen, rare flaws in the perfect tropical paradise life. It started when we noticed the electric winch was struggling to raise the mainsail. This is an operation that usually goes quickly and easily but increasingly I have to use the slow gear to inch the big sail up, and to get it down as well. We checked all the usual things, the roller bearings, the angle of the boom with the mast, the tightness and evenness of the wrap as the sail furled. When our own troubleshooting didn’t lead us to a solution I wrote to our rigger, Colin Mack of Mack Sails in Florida and hoped for some words of wisdom. We’re facing some long and challenging sea miles ahead and we don’t want a mainsail that’s in less than full control. 

Meanwhile, the weather has been completely ferkochte. Rain, wind, squally, very unparadisical. We sailed to Bora Bora and what should have been another of those iconic landfalls with the distinctive double mountain peak rising from a blue lagoon turned out to be a mist-shrouded and gray silhouette above a choppy sea. With day after day of rain, wind and rolly anchorages I’ve been lax about my usual daily routine of restorative yoga on deck as the sun rises, my own personal sun salutation and welcome to the day. And my back was starting to feel it.

Somewhere between Huahine and Bora Bora my body decided to give me a wake-up call and I was struck with my first-ever bout of excruciating sciatic pain which I could trace to tweaking my back while climbing into the dinghy after snorkeling in Huahine on my 64th birthday. I know people who’ve experienced this — and heard from lots of cruisers nearby who also suffer from it — and I can tell you, there’s no joy in joining the crowd. I’ve always worked hard to keep my spine healthy and I’m kicking myself for letting challenging conditions lead me down the path to a back out of whack. I vow never again to let my yoga practice lapse. 

For now, though, I have to heal. There’s no shortage of helpful advice wherever cruisers gather, and miraculously, many of them actually know what they’re talking about. I’ve been prescribed all manner of medications, techniques and devices, and with consultation at Google University I’m following a plan of targeted stretching, my regular yoga, rest and anti-inflammatories. A few days later and I’m way better. I was even able to go ashore and walk around a bit for the first time in days.

Colin Mack wrote back that the sheave box that connects to the articulating track of our Shaefer gamma furling boom has been redesigned in response to the problem we’re having and he shipped out a replacement the very next day. So it’s one more gold star for Mack Sails, who’ve been nothing short of wonderful from the day we bought the boat through our dismasting and rerigging. Colin is always quick to respond and we thank him and his crew. Kudos to Schaefer, too.

This morning the wind has finally abated and there are patches of blue in the cloud cover that we’ve grown used to. Things are looking up. So we’re stuck waiting for a boat part, but we’re in Bora Bora. Not too shabby.  



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3 Responses to Down but not out

  1. A cold Hinano or two at Bloody Mary’s might do wonders for your back! IMHO skip Bora Bora YC but maybe we just caught them on a (really) off day.

  2. Nancy Smith

    Care of the back and sciatic nerve-muy importante! We follow your travels. The exercise is so valuable………… weather-cooish summer overall!

    Love to you and Jack

  3. Anita

    Feel better marce. And yay for Mack motors. They seem wonderful.

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