Last night during deck inspection, I noticed that the side lights were not working. No big deal, we were going to be sailing, so we could use the new masthead tricolor light that I just installed. Turned it on, and ....nothing. No big deal, we just duck taped the dingy sidelights to the mizzen, and were good until we had daylight on our side.
Then we noticed that the dinghy was fretting a little, so we went forward and sweated that down.
On to today. Oh yes, Paul and I were sitting by the companionway, and we heard a clack. What was that? Paul says something hit the deck. "What" I asked, "that sounded like hardware". Paul looked around until we found a little 1/4-20 X 3/4 machine screw. Hardware was falling from the sky. I started going over the rigging of the mizzen in my head and with my eyes,
when I noticed the radar hanging from a single ...you guessed it...1/4-20 X 3/4 machine screw. My bad, I inspected all of the hardware components that hold the rig up, but not this component that is held up by the rig.
Crap! Get the boson's chair, I'll drop the mizzen, Bruce you center the main and get the jib furled. Within 45 seconds the good crew had me on my way to the errant radar.
Well, it turns out that going up the mizzen in 5 foot seas is a little different than in the protection of Quick's Hole in the dark of night turning in slow circles. Neither is ideal, but this was much more physical.
We managed to get one screw from the collection to stabilize it. I decided to take a quick nap because I had been on the sunrise watch and was exhausted. No sooner did I hit the sleeping bag then there was a call for all hands.
Within an hour of the first hardware falling from the sky, a second screw plopped down to the deck. This time it was immediately apparent where it came from. The traveler track, that the main sheet attaches to (which controls the second most important sail on the boat) had just ripped right off of its mounting brackets on the port side. The starboard side held, and due to good thinking on the part of the crew, no further damage was sustained.
This one we could address with a little more thoughtfulness. Alan had just refurbished this part of his Pearson 424 within the last two weeks. With the detailed knowledge of the construction at hand, we knew right away to drill a 4" hole in the bracket so that we could reach in and put in new screws and nuts, rather than the original design that only lasted 30 years.
Things happen in threes, so we were getting pretty nervous, but Alan had the presence of mind to look for other broken or nearly broken things, starting with the most inconsequential. Heck, we could break something if it came to that. Not that it would come to that. It was not long before we found an air horn that squawked in a most ineffective manner, and replaced it with the spare.
Winds are fair, the sky is clear, the sun is out. We are stripping layers off quickly. We are in the stream. The water is 72 degrees. We are making around 10 kts speed over ground toward Bermuda.
Life is good.
I going to take a nap.
P.S. Dec 20 2009:
I had not realized until now our good fortune in having turned back to retreive the mizzen halyard. Had we decided to proceed without it, we would have been helpless to save the radar. We would have had to listen while it beat itself to death uo on the mizzen, and we would have had to worry about who was going to get hurt when it fell. What good luck!
As for going up the mast...Physical! That was an understatement. I took a beating up there. I asked the crew to turn the boat into the waves to stop the side to side, and the boat began beating me sensless with the mizzen mast. i was making deals with God up there; which was a little dramatic, as the radar was not critical gear. But it was expensive, and I did not want to loose it for no reason. By the time I came down, I was a little dizzy and completely exhausted. Trying to lift a radome while wrapped around a mizzen mast with your legs and one arm is a form of strenuous pilates. I wanted nothing but to lie down for a while by the time I came down.
And talk about luck! That traveller ripping out of the deck was lucky in so many ways. if it had happened the night before in heavy conditions, we would have had to deal with an uncontrolled boom in well over 20 knots of wind. Plus, it might have caused collateral damage, like breaking the boom or gooseneck. had we been unluck, it would have happened when someone was on dock and it could have swept them off or struck them in the head and killed them.
But none of that happened. here are some pictures:
Probably shaking out a reef (increasing the size of the exposed sail) as the weather improved