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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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Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 22, 2012-Colorful Sao Luis

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sao Luis

Before leaving Brazil we visited the centro historico de Sao Luis, one of the oldest Portuguese towns in the New World. Just now we have posted a few photos from that visit.

Click here to see the photos of Sao Luis.

Not many cruisers visit this place, but we did.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Trinidad, W.I.

Click here to read the previous story on San Luis

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Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11, 2012-This is what we do

wingssail images-suzanne daniel
Bertie Trims

We motored around the point from Chaguaramas to find a solid wind blowing. It was dark blue water and whitecaps and my pulse quickened a bit more when I glanced at the instruments; sixteen knots and building. That was Number-Three weather and if it built much more the spinnaker was going to be a question mark. Judy had already noticed it and I know she was thinking the same thing. I called for the Three and I started having butterflies in my stomach.

Maybe it was the fully crewed race boats circling around us or maybe it was just the clock ticking down to the start in this stiff breeze that was making me nervous but it’s been a few years since I felt butterflies like this. I shook it off and turned my attention to getting sails up and the crew focused on the start. At ten minutes to go I felt a calmness come over me and the nervousness went away. We went through the pre-start without a problem; I jibed away from the line then back at it then tacked below the committee boat and nobody else was near. We were at speed and on time and we sheeted in and settled in for the long beat.

Now this was great sailing: tacking upwind in 17 knots of wind in flat water with the sails sheeted hard and all the crew on the rail. A nice lift got us to the top mark top mark first while the competition fell away to leeward. A jibe set, the chute filling with a bang and we had over eight knots of boat speed. It was great, there was water and mountains around and our class was all behind us. It went this way for the next three legs. It was our race. We saved our time and won the class.

Not that we didn’t have some problems. The spinnaker work was still a little sloppy, we need to improve that and we will, but keeping a good crew is going to be hard with most of the people we know here in Trinidad being cruisers who leave town as soon as they get their own boats put away for the season, so we will be training new people every week. However Andrew says he and Susan will be here for the rest of the season, Liam too, and I’ve got a couple of local guys who aren’t going anywhere. So we are building.

Then there is the competition.

We’ve been in Racer/Cruiser class but I guess we’ll go into Racing class next week. Last night Norman, the owner of CMOS, the good looking and fast Soverel 43, shook my hand to congratulate us for our win and asked when we were coming into his class. I looked at the scoring sheet. His time was better than ours but I told him we’d be there on the 17th. How we’ll beat him, I don’t know, but we’ll try. That will push up the pressure.

Next Sunday the jib blew up.

I was steering when it happened; on the last beat. Everyone else was on the high side.

There was some kind of sound, then the jib leech was fluttering.

Didn’t sound right.

“Take a look at that jib, will you Judy? See if it tore.”

She jumped down to the low side and looked up.

“Yes, it’s torn!”

“How Bad?”

“From luff to leech!”


We sailed a few more minutes. The leech line was holding it. Then it got slack. The fluttering sail was shaking the rig. I could see a bit of sky at the luff where there should be sail, high aloft, and all the way to the head-stay.

“Take it down Andrew. Susan, please drop that halyard. Judy, steer for a minute, will you?”

They all got to work.

I leapt below and grabbed the #4 and threw it out the hatch. We had it up immediately and finished under that sail.

Now I have a job to get done.

But this is what we are doing now and we’ve been here before. We do boat projects during the week and go racing on the weekend. We get lots of sun and wind and a little exercise and we get home almost too tired to put the boat away, but we do it, and we’ll just have to keep on getting those projects done before the next weekend, and we’ll just have to keep fighting off the butterflies on the start line.

And we love it.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Trinidad

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