Galapagos to Marquesas – Days 13 & 14

POS: 7 42S 132 12.7W

Things break on boats. It doesn’t matter if we are talking dinghies or super yachts, things regularly break on them all. The only difference is the cost to replace or fix them.

We have a lot of ropes and wires supporting and controlling things and inevitably from time to time they wear out. In a post a few days back we mentioned a guardwire snapped. Its made of stainless steel and subjected to cyclic loading every time the boat flexes. One second its tight, the next its just that tiny bit slacker, and stainless steel corrodes. Eventually it had had enough and parted where the flexible wire went into a solid fitting. Not a big issue but a breakage all the same.

We join ropes onto sails and other fittings in a number of different ways. Sometimes we tie them, sometimes they are spliced and sometimes we use shackles. Shackles come in many forms. Standard metal ones that need tools to tighten them and undo them, fancy metal ones with spring plungers allowing them to be fastened and released by hand and Dyneema soft shackles. Metal shackles are heavy and can damage things when they fly around on the loose corners of sails. Dyneema is an amazing material. Weight for weight its something like 9 times stronger than steel. Its like a very light strong rope (which is also very UV resistant). We attach almost all our sheets and guys to the sails with Dyneema shackles. They require no tools, are very light and super strong. They are readily available in chandleries but also easy to make so we make our own.

However like anything, eventually they wear out and snap. We swap them around from one use to another because each different task has different wear points and different loads, and although we do daily inspections of anything and everything that might wear, there are some things that are difficult to inspect under sail. We also double them up in high load, high wear areas (such as genoa sheets), so if one fails the other takes up the role.

Overnight we lost one of the spinnaker guys. The soft shackle wore through where it was attached to the clew of the Parasailor. No drama, the sail flew comfortably without it, just not quite so stable, we carry spares, so at first light we replaced it (safer and easier to do in the light and with both of us on deck). We needed to gybe anyway so we combined the two tasks.

So apart from fixing the water generator (a 5 minute job), that was pretty much the excitement for the last two days. The winds have varied, we have had a little rain, plenty of sun and we are closing in on the Marquesas, albeit frustratingly slowly at times. We hear from friends behind that they have had consistent winds all the way, whereas friends in front and ourselves have had to pick our way around the holes. That’s sailing.

We continue to eat well, we now have cup cakes again, fresh bread and we celebrated the 500 miles to go mark (slightly prematurely as it was going to occur in the small hours) last night.

The nights are starting off very dark now, as the moon is not rising until several hours after sunset, but its still very big and almost full, so we have nights of two parts: After sunset, a pitch black start, where the stars are super bright, but the horizon and approaching waves are not visible, it can be slightly spooky hearing approaching waves but not being able to see them, followed by an amazing moon rise as the yellow circle gradually appears out of the darkness brightening over the next half hour or so to give a dim light making everything around visible. This remains until the eastern sky starts showing a golden glow as the sun nears the horizon, and daylight begins. We do see nature at its best.

All is good on board.
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