Saturday, May 19, 2012

5 am - How not to deal with a squall

We hot bunk these days and when I come off watch, I switch places with Rani, lying on the settee berth while she takes the quarter berth beside the instruments and companionway. I had not been long asleep when I awoke because the boat was moving differently. Rani told me that we were hitting 9 knots at times, so I hurried on deck in time to see a huge black mass almost on top of us. Rani had not noticed the squalls because most of the horizon was black with them and it was difficult to tell them from the few patches of lighter sky at 5 am.

I told Rani to slack the jib sheets and tried to furl the jib, but it would not come in. I had forgotten the lashing holding the drum together, which was now jammed around the partially furled drum. I went forward to clear this as the wind began to howl and spray from the rearing bow showered down upon me. Coming back I furled the jib, but the sheets were now flying and they wrapped around the sail as we brought it in. What a snarl!

The sail was flogging in the wind and I thought it would come apart. Forward I went again and asked Rani to join me to untangle the sheets so we could release and refurl the jib. It was far from easy to stay calm with the sail snapping just over our heads, but we soon had the lines free. I decided to drop the jib altogether because it would have been very difficult to furl now with the sheets flying loose. We brought it down without dumping it in the sea and soon had it lashed to the deck. Despite the flogging there appeared to be no damage to cloth or stitching - a testimony to the quality of the 25+ year old sail.

We continued to run under main alone before the squall and were lucky that it did not last long. Three more squalls came through after this one, one with winds of at least 35 knots and lashing rain. As the day dawned, I re-fed the furler line and cleaned up the grease that had decorated it when the drum had separated. In a gap between squalls we ran off downwind and I fed the jib into the furler foil as Rani hoisted. We threw a second reef in the main and unfurled 70 percent of the jib and Ladybug settled into the groove again. We have sailed most of today with this configuration in winds of 15 to 20 knots and short period steep seas.

we later heard that another boat nearby had not been as lucky as us and had a similar jam with their furler during which their genoa ripped.

Our position at 9 pm is S 11 39 W 141 50 and we are bucking along at 6 to 7 knots broad reaching in about 20 knots of wind. We are about 315 miles away from Kauehi atoll.

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