Yin and Yang passages.
Sometimes we have peaceful, fast passages where just about everything goes right. Such was our trip north to Carriacou last week. To balance those out though, there are passages that include just a bit too much drama for my liking. Not particularly dangerous things necessarily but rather annoying, stupid things that go wrong, conspiring to wreck my mood. That pretty much describes Tuesday’s return trip to Grenada.
As you may recall, we had mentioned a possible overnight sail to Trinidad. I wrote that, because Rebecca couldn’t get on the course she wants to take, we postponed that trip and we’re glad that we did. During the night that we would have been sailing, we had some wicked thunder and lightning storms with some seriously gusty winds. It was bad enough that we were awake and on anchor watch several times throughout the night. The skies had cleared beautifully by the next day though leaving us with what we thought would be perfect sailing weather.
Although we don’t always do this, because we were alone in our own little bay at Saline Island with few hazards nearby, we opted to raise our main sail before we brought up our anchor. After doing so though, in order to get into safe water, for a short time we needed to motor sail straight into the wind and waves. Meer minutes after we commenced that journey the drama would begin.
- 2 minutes into passage: Issue one was our Topping Lift. For the non-sailors, this is the line (rope) which goes from the top of the mast to the outer end of the boom. It holds the boom up in the air when the sail is not raised. When the sail is up, it does the job of holding the boom up, so the Topping Lift just hangs loosely, waiting until it is needed again. At least that’s what it’s supposed to do. When I looked back I could see that our Topping Lift was no longer attached to the boom at all though. It was instead flying around in the air, about 6 feet above my head, just out of reach. The last time this happened the motion of the boat caused it to go even higher, requiring a trip up the mast to retrieve it (not so fun to do while in the middle of the ocean). Fortunately, this time I was able to mess with the line enough, and jump high enough, to get it back without doing that. Once it was in my hand I quickly tied it off to the rear railing so that we wouldn’t lose control of it again. Why did it come unattached from the boom in the first place? Although at the time I didn’t know it, I would later come to find the remnants of the shackle which had been holding it, on the cockpit floor, bent out of shape. This is strange as there’s seldom much pressure on the line!
- 6 minutes into passage: Remember that nice Trucker’s Hitch that we use hold our kayak on the tramp? Well, the knot was still tied perfectly but due to our boat bashing through the waves, the now-wet kayak had slid out from under the loop and was bouncing around the trampoline untethered, just waiting for the opportunity to go AWOL. Hard to fix? No, not really. I just had to crawl up onto the trampoline with some additional pieces of line to make it fast again. If we weren’t bashing into 6 foot waves at the time it wouldn’t have been an issue at all. It was hot out though so I guess Mother Nature decided that I needed a seawater bath!
- 10 minutes into passage: Wheeler, our Autopilot would not hold course. For whatever reason, the autopilot was not happy with the seas. No matter how much I messed with the settings and tried to balance the sails, the boat would keep heading up into the wind, forcing us to hand steer. I don’t mind hand steering because I “want” to but I dislike hand steering because I “have” to.
- 20 minutes into passage: Now on course for our trip down the windward coast of Grenada (hand steering of course), and moving much too slow for our liking, we decided to shake out the reef that we put in the main when we initially raised it. This shouldn’t have been an issue except for the fact that, when I just about had the main all the way up, the second reefing line got jammed and tangled with another line. Dropping the main down to fix that issue I was immediately reminded of the fact that the Topping Lift was no longer attached (see first issue above). Remember I said that it’s job is to hold up the boom? No longer in place, the boom dropped down below the bimini and in the sloppy seas, proceeded to bash around in a potentially damaging way.
I am going to be perfectly honest here… there was a LOT of swearing going on by this time. I would also suspect that, were I to have checked my blood pressure at the time, it would have been a bit on the high side. Were we able to get that problem sorted? Yes. Was there any damage? No, other than the damage to my peace of mind.
Would the passage get any better? No, not really. The wind would remain too light to give us any decent speed and I’m pretty sure the current was against us too. The only saving grace was the nice Tuna which sacrificed himself for our sustenance. We landed him shortly after 11:00 AM and within the hour were enjoying Ceasar salad with fresh tuna sashimi.
Don’t get me wrong, in spite of all this there are few places I would rather have been than out on the water that day. The sun was shining, we were in no danger and we were making way to our destination, albeit slowly. When comparing passages though, we really would have preferred one a bit more similar to our trip northbound. Maybe next time!
The best thing about that passage!
Safe and sound back in protected Calvigny Harbor, Grenada.