06 January 2009

06-Dec-2009 Noon Update

Atlantic Crossing Day #13

North Atlantic Ocean
  • 113 nm last 24 hours
  • 1512 nm from Cape Verde
  • 509 nm to Barbados
  • Winds NE 10-15 Knots
  • Seas NE 3-4 feet
Near Disaster!

Late this morning, while basking in the afterglow of yesterdays momentous 141 nautical mile run, we heard a loud bang up on the mast. Looking up I saw that the bolt that runs through the spreaders and also secures the lower shrouds to the mast had sheered in half. This caused the shrouds to fall on the deck while the mast jiggled around with every new swell. Also, the shock of this breaking and the lurching of the mast snapped off the deck fitting that secures the running backstay to the deck.

The main sail was immediately dropped to take the strain off the mast while we decided what to do next. We were a bit worried that the whole rig was going to come down as there was so much movement in the mast. And there was a slight bend in the mast because the shrouds on the top of the mast were now holding it at different tensions.

The good thing about the Piper is she has back-ups for her back-ups. Most boats have a single backstay (the wire that goes to the top of the mast from the boats stern), which does not offer much side-to-side support. Luckily for Sandpiper she has 2 backstay shrouds, giving her twice as much strength and support. So we ran both running backstays aft. We usually only have them out when using the staysail. Once we tightened them, they seemed to stop most of the mast's movement. Then with adjustments on all the turnbuckles on the upper shrouds, we were able to straighten up the mast.

We also took the boom and made a support for it in order to take its weight off the mast. With a few more lines run to the top of the mast securing the bottoms to different parts of the boat, it seemed like we were back in business. So we rolled the jib back out and now are back sailing again.

For now it seems like the mast will be OK as long as we keep all the tension on the top of the mast and not in the middle. So we will be sailing with just the jib till we can get anchored in Barbados and make repairs. This has cut our speed down considerably and we are expecting to make 100 mile days at best for now.

The good thing is that this happened in the daylight when then winds were very light, under 10 knots. Of all times for this to happen it is amazing that it never failed when the winds were cracking. Instead it happened on the one morning when we have had the lightest winds. I think that this bolt might have gotten fatigued over time. And with all the rolling back and forth on this trip, plus the occasional accidental jibes, it just wore down.

One ship last 24 hours one mile off our bow heading south.

"If its going to happen, its going to happen out there"
...Cap'n Ron

Tom and Amy

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