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I’ve come to think of open ocean sailing as long periods of inactivity (some may say boredom) with a few brief flurries of activity thrown in the break up the monotony. I rather enjoy the periods of relative inactivity as it gives me the opportunity to play with the sails, listen to the water rush by the hulls, read and beat the Admiral at Uno (usually). As for the flurries of activity, we’re getting pretty adept at handling them, but we’re always hoping the flurry isn’t a result of anything too serious and is quick.
Yesterday, we had a whopper of a flurry. Let’s run through the timeline:
Finishing up another delicious meal made by the Admiral and I am doing the dishes when I notice that our “yo-yo” hand reel has gone taunt for the first time ever. Could the impossible have finally happened and we have caught a fish???
We quickly jump up. Amy grabs the camera to document this mystical creature of the sea and I quickly work to reel in whatever is on the lure. Lo and behold, a fish comes to the surface, skipping like a rock as I pull in the hand line. We quickly bring the fish up on deck and discover that it is not a desired tuna or mahi mahi, but nothing would diminish our joy and there is lots of whooping and hollering as we celebrate catching our first fish in over 7,500 nautical miles of sailing.
Unfortunately, the fish is pretty small and since we don’t recognize what kind of fish it is, we threw it back. Later Amy discovers that it was likely a Lesser Amberjack, which apparently aren’t all that good in terms of providing food, so we made the right call.
We head back inside quite proud of ourselves and feeling like masters of the sea.
The INSTANT we close the salon door coming inside, we notice that our giant blue spinnaker has collapsed in on itself and looks like it is resting up against the mast. Pretty much the exact opposite of what you want to happen, and rather confusing as the wind had been blowing a constant 10-12 knots from about 120 degrees all day long. Perfect spinnaker weather.
As we jump outside the spinnaker catches the wind again and billows out, only this time there is a huge rip as a section managed to wrap around the spreader and tear free. The boat giveth and the boat taketh away. Fortunately, the rip seemed confined to one section and the sail was maintaining it’s shape for the time being, but we had zero desire to watch the sail rip even further so we quickly worked to furl it up and drop it. I have to admit, after discovering that the screecher and spinnaker were too big while we were in France and thus had to sail them all the way back to Florida to get recut, and then the spinnaker ripping literally the second time we used it, it seems the universe is telling us we bought the wrong sails…
The sun is starting setting and the spinnaker is packed away, but a long piece of the sail is still wrapped around the spreader. We were worried that it might get caught up in the mainsail cars if we tried to drop the main and that would have been quite problematic, especially since our nights seem to be full of squalls rolling across the horizon. So while we still had a little bit of daylight, Amy quickly raised me up the mast to tear away the stuck piece. The seas were pretty calm, but I was still holding on to the stays with an iron grip and getting bounced around pretty good. In the end, I came down safe and sound, with the offending piece of spinnaker, but going up the mast in the middle of the ocean is definitely a different experience than going up while in a marina! Hopefully I won’t have to do that again.
The dishes were still sitting on the counter, waiting to be dried so out came the dish towel so I could fulfill my dishwasher duties. I count this as the final part of this flurry of activity, even though it was much less exciting, and much more routine than everything else!
We were very fortunate that a rip in the spinnaker is the worst of what happened, and we worked very well together to efficiently and safely do what needed to be done to resolve the problem. But yesterday’s flurry of activity was definitely intense!
Also yesterday, my sister Julie was kind enough to copy the comments to our blog and facebook page and send them to us via email. We enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, and knowing that our posts are getting out there!
As for today, the winds have completely died (less than 5 knots) as predicted, so we are motorsailing (more motoring than sailing I think) until they pick up again later this evening. However, in the good news column, as the winds died, we somehow managed to find the Gulf Stream which is adding 2.5 knots to our speed as we head north. Pretty sweet! We still look on track for a Wednesday arrival into Halifax, with 430 nm left to go, and hopefully our flurries will be a little less exciting from here on out!