US SV Angel Louise - Disaster with Inmast mainsail
Wednesday morning we decided to use sail only in the gentle winds and not start engines at all... We pulled up the anchor from the fine sand and started going south under bare poles in 10 knots of wind. All went well, with the headsail at the bow ballooning out in front of us to carry us on the leisurely 6 hour trip south in the calm waters.
But we had one snag when we tried to unroll our behind the inmast furled mainsail. It is rolled up like a window shade in an aluminum drum with a slit in it to pull it out behind the mast. To put it back after sailing it has a roller drive at the bottom that we use to roll it back up like a window shade spring does - only we do that by pulling a line around it by hand.
As we were pulling out on the back of the furled mainsail, after about 5 feet it seemed to have resistance. We checked and believed the only resistance was coming from tightness in the wrap of the rolled up sail in the top aluminum drum behind the mast. We did not detect any problem in the bottom drive roller which just unrolls when we pull it out - but we now know it had to have a jam in it. As a result we pulled extra hard on the outhaul line with our power winch. BANG... CRASH.... $NAP.... oh oh!
The bottom of the sail snapped a 3/4" extruded aluminum guide in the bottom of the drum that was connected to the bottom roller just above its attachment point and the rolled up sail on the rest of the guide pulled out of the bottom 9 feet of the aluminum. We said some bad words at the time.
Saturday we spent time up the mast, trying to pound it back in... and got some of it (maybe 2 feet) to go back in. But we have most of the sail rolled up and pulled out the tight slit in the drum! But we cannot figure how to get the bottom roller free or disassemble it further and do not want to cause further damage to the expensive gear, so found a dealer in Lisbon who we hope may be able to help us. Otherwise, we have wrapped the sail around the main mast and secured it tightly with multiple lines so it cannot flap in the winds. There are some big boat yards as we go south in Portugal and someone will be able to figure a fix.
The gear was all new from MACK SAILS in Florida in 2011 just before we left to cross the Atlantic. It was pricey - but very much worth it. We hope we can rehabilitate it! But it will be very pricey to fix it. We hope we have learned a lesson well from this unfortunate accident.
They say cruising is fixing your boat in exotic ports. Guess we know that is pretty correct by now, having had to re-equip the boat with two diesel engines at Istanbul and Mahon in the Balearic Islands. Now this. Sigh!
But the good news is it did not happen in the mid-Atlantic ocean in the Trade winds. No one got hurt (though our muscles are aching this morning from hanging 9 feet above the deck swinging a 3 pound rubber hammer in an attempt at getting it back in its aluminum covering)
It is also good that we do not need the sail to move onward as the trip back is significantly a down-wind sail, so our large foresail can do the whole job getting us downwind.
We will have to have the boat surveyed later this fall. Hope it does not reveal a lot more to fix before our crossing.
See below some photos of the Baiona harbor, it is thrilling to think we float in the same place Christopher Columbus did. He must have been even more excited to get back to here 521 years ago.
We have dental appointments in Baiona on Monday. We will also take on diesel fuel as well as its reportedly cheaper in Spain. Maybe mid-week we will move South across the border to Portugal. We plan to make one stop before the next Rally stopping place, which is PORTO, Portugal. We stopped there at the end of last summer while coming North on the Atlantic on our circumnavigation of Europe.
Sue is using 3 bananas to make her wonderful Cinnamon-Banana Muffins for our breakfast this pretty Sunday morning.
Life is good.
Sue & Ed on US SV Angel Louise friends of Boatshed