Nandor Fa: “Yesterday the whole day we were running under the A2, with a few almost perfectly carried out gybes. Good wind angle – 155 -, good speed – 13-15 kts in 17-20 kts of wind -, a nice sunny round. Until the night….
In the evening the same wind started to increase, 19-23 kts Northerly — North-Easterly. It was my watch in the dark, we had previously decided with C that we will steer the boat ourselves when needed, at most we will do shorter changes, but we keep the beat going.
The moon wasn’t up yet but the Orion constellation – my favourite – was encouragingly squinting at me, it felt good I was not alone after all.
It was already dark when we ran past an every-inch-floodlit dream-boat. As fast as it came, disappeared into the night behind us.
I was just going to wake the mate up when the gennaker broke at the top of the mast. I was frozen as I watched the 350 sqm white mantel descend with decorum in front of me. The whole main sail was of course up, making the boat go on. I reflexly steer away, dragging the whole gennaker in the water adrift. C already jumped for the first spat, now he was quickly nipping up his clothes and coming to help. As much as it was possible I luffed up to lower the main sail. Needless to say, everything was clashing in the waves, nothing could calm it.
I had no doubt the sail would be broken apart, but I was afraid we would go on top and the sail material and the ropes would twine around the keel and the rudders.
Within a second I put on the drysuit and we started the rescue process. I shouted to C to ease on the halyard so that I could bring it on board from the bowsprit. We tried pulling it from there, from wave to wave, while it sometimes loosening a little, the other second almost pulling us into the water …but we just kept on pulling it as hard as we could.
Of course the part of the sail we managed to pull on board wanted to go back into the water, C runs for a few sail straps and we tie it on board. — Let’s open the sail storage and pull it inside directly — I shout to C in the heat of the battle. It comes more and more easily as there is less in the water. We were directly taking it into the bow. The sail is mainly in one piece but the back halyard point broke completely, tearing the whole edge with it too.
C ran to the back, started unbounding all sheets as I was taking everything into the bow one-by-one. The connection between the sail and the halyard just simply broke.
We fumingly discover that the strap was made of plane polyester, which is only a matter of time to break.
Since we knew that we were heading towards increasing wind, we used the Code 0’s lock and not its own one, because that is a safer connection to the mast.
We both were incredibly happy we managed to do it without bigger problems like getting twined. If it had twined around the keel and rudders, we would still be cutting it under the boat.
C apologizes for the forth time, he feels it his fault. First, he left me alone running in the night, secondly I had suggested to change the A2 for the A3 when it was getting darker. I had a sense, nothing more. I’ve already lost sails when sailing into the night.
We don’t blame anyone but the strip.
You truly get to know people in trouble! The way they react, what they take on and how they do it. This was the first time for both of us to see what we can expect from each-other in a “sharp” situation.
After we had finished our rescue action, we pulled the main sail back up, reacher up, and after two hours we were running again with 12 knots in the moonlight. We instinctively hugged each other. We mutually acknowledged each-others capabilities, attitude, we’ve had our first test, we passed.
At dawn we had to reef the main sail and gybe at the same time. Now we are sailing outwards to West, collecting altitude for the next tack to target the passage between the islands.
The A2 we lost now was a new sail, I had it made for a spare and we were testing it right at the beginning. It lasted until now. I have an other one, but no more spare of this sensitive, light sail inevitable for reaching. We will have to take care of the other one more, we are not going to let it spend the night when the conditions are uncertain.
Other than that it is sunny, the sky is patchy of clouds and we progress fantastically.”