Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ugly Spinnaker Incident
We are just leaving Cedros Island on our way to Turtle Bay. We feel like we are going to hit a bit of a milestone because Turtle Bay or Bahia San Bartolome is a major stopping point down the Baja Coast. I still get a thrill when I write the Baja coast, I have a hard time believing we are actually here. The weather is gorgeous, but lacking wind so we are motoring AGAIN.
Let me tell you about our trip to Cedros Island. We left San Quintin in the morning and put the spinnaker up as soon as the wind came up. We had some great runs with it, gybing back and forth all day. As the sun set Barry wanted to take it down but it was my shift and I said I was comfortable sailing it in the dark. When Barry came on shift he was thinking about taking it down, but it was going so well he decided that he would leave it up. About 2 3/4 hours into his shift, when he was tired, I get a call that he had a wrap, the spinnaker which is a huge sail had wrapped itself around the forestay. I tried to get it undone and almost had it but then the top part started wrapping as well and then it was just UGLY!!!! We spent 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours trying to get the thing down, in the dark. Man, we tried everything, Barry was hauling on the lines with all his weight, then struggling to hold the sail while I tried pulling something different. We took the spinnaker sock lines
and put them around the forestay thinking they were wrapped around at the top, something happened and the sail came free, now it is flying just from the top with no lines on the boat so it is streaming out about 15 feet in the air just flapping the life out of the sail. We had to get it down. We loosened off the halyard (the line that takes the sail up to the top and hauled on the spinnaker sock lines and managed to get it down to about the first spreader, but it wouldn't come any further down, by this time Barry and I are both drenched in sweat. Barry then declares that I have to go up the mast and cut the halyard. I was not happy, going up the mast in the light at the dock is one thing, in the dark under sail is another. (Did I mention we were still sailing merrily away under main the whole time.) I actually went and put on the climbing harness and a lifejacket to cushion my body against the swinging and was looking for a helmet when Barry decided that it wasn't such a great idea, thank goodness. We took ropes and bungies and sheets and whatever we could get our hands on and tied the spinnaker up to the forestay so it wouldn't inflate. Then we put up the staysail and continued on our sail.
We ended up motoring from about 0100 until we arrived in Cedros at noon the next day. As soon as we anchored Barry insisted we try and get the spinnaker down. He hauled me up to the first spreaders using the electric winch, and then took the line I had tied to me and swung me over to the forestay. It was the damned spinnaker sock line we had taken around the forestay that was the problem. While holding on with my feet and one arm I was able to loosen the lines enough so the whole mess could drop to the ground. It was actually quite amazing, we were so lucky, nothing was ripped or torn, the sock still worked, the spinnaker looked fine and the genoa furling gear seems to work just fine. What a relief, I am glad we were able to fix it by ourselves as well, we have never put anyone up the mast without someone else to help.
I went for a swim with the seals later in the day, the anchorage echoes with their barking. It was a bit scary but quite neat to see them swooping around me when I was in the water. I had Barry close by in the dinghy in case one of them decided to get frisky. They would pop out of the water to look at me so I would do the same to them, not sure what they thought of me but it was a neat experience. The water was about 21 degrees, so I wimped and put on my wet suit. At night we went up on the deck and the seals were swarming around in the water, the phosphorescence in the water was amazing, it is like fireflies in the water, glowing as the seals move through the water, you could follow their paths by sparkling, shimmering light. We had Mungo over for dinner that night and had tortillas to celebrate Mexico and spinnaker wars. They were smart and took theirs down when it got dark, Barry swears the sail is never leaving the bag again, WE SHALL SEE!!!!