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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 24, 2012-Dodged that Bullet

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Chasing the Leaders.

Sometimes you dodge a bullet and don’t even know it happened.

Then, on reflection, you remember a whirring sound of something going past your ear and you realize you were just lucky, very, very lucky.

On the second beat Sunday there was a huge bang and the boat shook like we got hit by a truck. The sound came from aloft.

I looked up to see if the rig was coming down and instead saw the Windex heading towards a meeting with Neptune, falling from the top of the mast. I knew that was related to the sound, but it hadn’t caused it. As my eyes turned toward the masthead it flashed through my mind, “This is weird; what causes the Windex to break off?” I half expected the top of the mast to be hanging broken and I was wondering if I’d see the whole rig slowly beginning to fold.

But it wasn’t.

The mast was standing, the sails were OK, no wires were hanging loose. Yet something happened, what?

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Broken Chain Plate.

Then we saw the backstay chainplate. It was broken at deck level and the mast was being held only by the safety wires I’d installed several years back. They worked. The chainplate broke, that was the bang we heard, and the mast jerked forward, but the safety lines stopped it and took up the load. The shock at the top of the mast must have been violent. It slowly sunk in how close we’d come to losing the mast. That was lucky. Needless to say, we were shaken.

We took down the sails and motored home.

Before that we’d already been having a tough race. We missed a shift at the top mark and should have set the kite on the other jibe, but didn’t, which put us behind. Then the wind gusted strongly on the run turning it into a reach then we had trouble getting the jib up and we had a couple of big wild roundups trying to get to the bottom mark. The takedown was a shambles, the kite was completely in the water, a couple of crew got rope burns and we were definitely behind the curve. Two minutes later we broke the backstay.

But it was OK; maybe we scored a “Did Not Finish” but at least we lived to fight another day.

Click here for a couple more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Trinidad

(By the way, it was "Ladies Skipper's Day"; Judy was driving through all of this and she did great.)

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