Friday, September 13, 2013

Mainsails R Not Us

One of the reasons we wanted to live aboard with our two kids was to seek adventure. Yesterday was one of the days that we accomplished that goal.

As we sailed from Fisher's Island (NY) towards the Thimble Islands on our trek to New York City, the winds proved the forecasters wrong once again by blowing a steady 30 to 35 knots instead of the 10 to 15 predicted. Matt tightened the mainsail halyard to try to smooth out the close-hauled sail. A few minutes later, as we sat chatting in the cockpit, the whole mainsail came crashing down and the boom landed on the hardtop. The only thing that saved our solar panels from sure destruction were the stainless steel handrails that we had installed. In addition to providing good handholds and strengthening the hard top, Matt wanted to protect the solar panels from the boom, so he intentionally designed them to sit about an inch above the panel level. I'm sure he feels pretty good about that decision now. The handrails more than paid for themselves today.
As it turns out, one of the shackles that holds the halyard onto the mainsail gave way. It was galvanized steel, which we have now replaced with a stainless steel model. No one was hurt and the mainsail came all the way down easily, landing neatly in its canvas cradle. It could have gotten stuck halfway, which could have resulted in damage to the sail. So going to all the expense of fixing the sail track to slide more easily was also a win. Okay, Patron Saint of Preventative Measures, we hear you loud and clear.

Even without the main we made pretty good time, 6 to 8 knots with just the jib and one motor due to decent wind and favorable current. We decided to bypass our intended anchorage and continue on to New Haven (CT) because of approaching thunderstorms. The Thimble Islands, while scenic, don't offer much protection from the southwest winds and some sailors have had trouble with their anchors holding. It turns out that the thunderstorm was not too bad and we got a much needed rinse.
Of course, there was still the issue of the halyard which was stuck up at the mast head. I went up the mast for the first time. As I was being winched up, Matt said, "If you're going to fall, try not to fall on me. We don't want the kids to be orphans." Thanks, honey.

After the storms last night and the passing of the front, we were hoping for a good wind day with forecasted NW winds.  Instead we motor-sailed to Copps Harbor in the Norwalk Islands. Wind forecasts: 0 for 3. We're now a day away from New York City and the kids continue to think only of pizza slices that have now morphed into slices as large as a bathtub.


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