FROM 1-24. Closing on the Barn Door

Oct 14, 2005 - 1530hrs UTC

1530hrs 14 Oct 2005 UTC 38’31”S 002’27”W Ref 441

Another discourse on heavy weather sailing for the ocean sailors. We have just dropped from the #4 and two reefs to the storm jib and trisail. Setting the trisail is a major dockyard job in Berrimilla, yet it ought to be – really must be – one of the easiest sails to set. It is always set when things are getting bad, the boat is often moving quite violently, the wind tends to be at the shriek stage and there’s water flying everywhere. In Berri, both of us have to get up to the mast to drop the main, still in its track, loosely tie it and then drop it out of its track and lash it properly. Then we have to feed the trisail halyard tape slugs into the track followed by the sail, run the sheets (which is often quite difficult) and then haul it up and trim it. Ludicrous when you think about it – that lot is the last project you would want to undertake as things get nasty. This time we set it really early in expectation that things will get worse – the correct way to do it.

So what’s the answer? The best one I have seen was a set up on a boat in Hobart – Gerry Fitzgerald has photos if he’s out there – where the trisail has a separate track going right down to the deck and the sail is permanently rigged in this track, snugged down under a cover at deck level when not needed. Dead easy to set – just drop the main and lash it and haul up the tri. There isn’t room to do this on Berri and probably on a lot of other boats – we can’t get another track on to the mast and there isn’t anywhere to stow the sail at deck level – at least, there isn’t now. A compromise would be a gate in the track above the level of the lowered main so that the tri can be fed into it without taking the main out of the track. I tried to get this done in Falmouth but the rigger ran out if time and we opted to go without. Big mistake.

So there it is. The trisail is a get you out of trouble sail – very effective if used properly – and it must be ruthlessly easy to get it up or you will delay putting it up until it is too late, as we did a couple of times approaching and leaving Cape Horn. Bad Karma.

Having said all of which, we are now snug and happy having dropped from a rather dizzy and stressful 7+ knots in a nasty beam sea to a positively Bishoplike 4 – 5. Noice. Consultation with Dr Gordon in 90 minutes and it’s a special half way milestone Con. Sadly, it’s 100% overcast and yet again we’re not going to see the ISS go over – it is not an easy one to crack.

And someone tried to phone us at about 0930 UTC this morning. The first two rings came in then we lost the satellite signal – actually, the coax aerial cable pulled out of its socket – they don’t make these toys for boats, sorry. I fixed it and there was a single ring about 10 minutes later. If something does go wrong, always have another go in say fifteen minutes.

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