Lemonade

Author: Mark
Date: June 29, 8pm MST
Location: 16 07 S - 143 49 W
Conditions: 20-22kts @ 110T, 199T COG, 8kts SOG, 3m swell with 7s period

We've been making lemonade out of lemons the last 72 hours. It's been one heck of a sail from Nuku Hiva to Tahanea, Tuamotos. If it could break, or break again, it did. Looking back it's almost comical, as I type this only 6 hours away from dropping the hook next to our buddy boats Reme De and Dafne.

We delayed our departure from Nuku Hiva to fix our 1st reef line. It chaffed and broke during a previous sail, and we wanted this fixed because we knew we could not sail under full main until we have our Harken cars replaced at each batten in Tahiti.

After weighing anchor, we eagerly raised the main to our 1st reef point, unfurled our genoa and set sail for a 545NM journey. Little did we know it would take every ounce of positive thinking to turn what could have been a very sour trip into something we now just laugh about.

It began only three hours after leaving. Snap! Our reef line chafed and broke - again! Clearly there is something wrong inside the boom as it chafed from inside, and not on the block. This was something that I did not want to mess with at sea, so, we simply pulled down to our second reef.

Six hours later, snap, another (two popped off during our sail from Galapagos to Fatu Hiva) Harken car at our top batten popped off the track. We were sailing in 20kts, so you can imagine my dismay seeing a batten car smacking against the main. I dropped the sail, took off one of the ball bearing cars form a lower batten and replaced. Not a big deal, but it required me taking off all the cars at sea to replace. With three cars missing, we now can't use more than a 2nd reef on our main.

Sailing under two reefs in light winds is painful. So, I decided it was time to roll out the screecher (code zero headsail) and 'power up'. It was a great idea, and for the first several hours it worked beautifully. The winds began to build and then popped up to 20kts true at 110deg. Sarah and I both realized we needed to furl it in quickly as there was too much wind for our beloved screecher. Just as I was on the sheet, there was a loud 'crack', and our sail ripped! We scurried as fast as we could to get it furled. Needless to say we were both sick to our stomachs. This has been our 'go to' sail in these generally downwind conditions.

After furling, the screecher was whipping wildly on the furler, so I knew we needed to drop it quickly. Sarah jumped on the halyard and I donned my life jacket and went forward. By then the wind picked up to 25kts. We brought the boat into the wind and quickly began lowering the sail. The idea was for the sail to be 'blown' back down on deck. This is much better than to have it blow back into the ocean. So far so good. However, about halfway down we could not get the halyard to fully release. I'm on deck hugging the sail and being slapped around the deck like I was riding a giant serpent. All I needed were a set of spurs and I would be good to go!

Sarah quickly ran forward and slacked the halyard next to the mast, and we finally go the sail on deck, and stuffed into the port forward locker. Whew! One heck of a day!

We were licking our wounds from the trip and we had not been gone more than 12 hours! Needless to say the morale was starting to tip towards a bowl of lemons.

The sea state continued to build overnight, and we were fortunate enough to have had an 'automatic reef' in our mainsail. We got whacked with some 30kts squalls which were easy to handle given we already had two reefs in our main.

Speaking of squalls, we've never seen so many squalls on a trip. Ever. We got nailed every night with at least 8-10 squalls. Speed ranged from an easy 22kts all the way up to the mid 30's. Our buddy boat was whacked with 40kts. If there's one thing Sarah hates more than anything, it's a night watch packed with squalls. It sucks and keeps her very stressed.

With the large seas on the beam, we got pounded in the galley. In the course of three nights we broke four bowls and one cup. All from falling on the floor at different times during our sail. Oh yeah, these were plastic bowls, not glass - so you can imagine they got really hammered to break.

In addition, I left a hatch cracked in the salon so we could get some ventilation. Within hours we were slammed on the beam with a rogue swell - soaking the inside carpet and salon with salt water. Sarah was a little irked.

So, how have we made lemonade out of these lemons? It could be worse. It could always be worse. No one was hurt. Nothing broke that was not replaceable, and the kids had a great time during the sail. We also caught a 4ft 8in Mahi Mahi!

To put this in perspective, we're fortunate to be out here together as a family. That alone is priceless. Any obstacles that creep up are just that, obstacles that we will overcome and find a positive way to view the experience.

Good friends of ours on s/v Escape Velocity lost their mast after leaving the Galapagos for French Polynesia and had to turn back. They sure have reason to be sour, but they are not. When we lost our third Harken car, our buddy boat Lil' Explorers lost their main halyard due to chafe, and had a car jump off the mast. They went up the mast twice in rough seas to try and fix. Both times their fix failed. They could be sour, but they are upbeat and sailing under genoa as I type this. It could always be worse, and we're thankful for the experiences we've gained.

Needless to say, Sarah and I are looking forward to dropping the anchor shortly, cracking open an ICE COLD Corona garnished with a big lemon wedge!

EPILOGUE

We arrived safely to the atoll. We had a warm greeting by our two buddy boats - Dafne and Remi De. They waved at us as we entered the pass at 5pm and had two fires built on the beach. We blared through our loud speaker on deck the song "Who let the dogs out?" as we anchored. We hurried over to the beach tonight and had a great time with our friends. The kids played on the beach and made smores, while the adults consumed adult beverages, socialized and talked about sailing. Dafne made an awesome soup for us so we would not have to cook! We are very blessed to have such great sailing friends! This atoll is AMAZING. It's the Bahamas on steroids!

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Comments

  1. Thought I'd let you know that you're getting some Cruising World magazine love on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/cruisingworld Great video!

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  2. Wow, what a fitful passage. I'm glad to hear all is well in the end. Guess now you get to experience the "Boat Repairs in Exotic Places" that we read in cruiser's blogs.
    Although all we can do is sit here in front of this computer and read as your adventure unfolds in the moments shared in your blog, we are "pulling" for you and your ability to overcome adversity.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Evenstar is a few weeks behind you, we just pulled into Nuka Hiva on the 31st. Sounds like this was rougher than the trip over!

    B.J.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great to read your post and enjoying it and also some great videos keep it up.. and who knows if we will cross path one day

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