Galapagos to Marquesas – Days 15

POS: 8 27.3S 134 48.6W

With a dull thud a spinnaker sheet parted. One of the benefits of Dyneema is it stretches very little so when it snaps there is virtually no recoil and very little noise. Little enough not even to wake Lesley who was about an hour and a half into her off watch period – probably the most frustrating time to be woken. So I wasn’t greeted initially by the biggest smile as I shouted down to say I needed her on deck to help replace the sheet.

The sheets came with the boat and have done a lot of miles. In 2016 when we crossed the Atlantic they took a bit of a hammering and we noticed wear on the splice where the quick release shackle is joined to the end. These are the only sheets that we have joined by metal shackles. They are very expensive shackles that can be ‘spiked’ by ramming a conical rod into a circular hole in them and they will open under full load instantly releasing the spinnaker for a quick drop. However that technique requires a fully crewed boat with a crew out on the end of the spinnaker pole. The race boats do it all the time but short handed its not an option.

For three years we have been watching the splice deteriorate. Unfortunately after several year’s use it becomes virtually impossible to re splice the working end of a rope – the fibres harden and get ingrained with salt etc.. And the rest of the sheet is fine so we keep putting off changing them. So it was of no real surprise that it snapped as the wind had increased and hence the forces. We had hoped it would last this trip but it wasn’t to be. Knowing that it was a possibility we had thought about what we would do if it broke so it was a relatively easy task to re-attach it although it did require dropping the spinnaker pole to re thread it. Such is the joy of the Parasailor though, that throughout the job it kept flying (from the fore guy) and kept driving us onward at over 7 kts. Quite a remarkable sail.

Fishing is somewhat limited when the Parasailor is up because its a bit tricky to slow the boat down to land the fish and if we hook a large one, it can strip the 1000m of line off the reel in just a few minutes if we can’t stop the boat. A little before sunrise yesterday we were going quite slowly in the light winds and the sky was bright enough to make rigging the lure easy, so I took a gamble and threw it in. Less than 2 minutes later,the reel was screaming – even before I had settled back into the cockpit and 10 minutes later a small black fin Tuna was filleted and chilling in the fridge. Lesley made Cerviche as a starter for dinner.

The wind built as the day progressed and the speed picked up, resulting in a daily run of a little over 150nm. Fair, considering that we had been dawdling at about 4 kts for significant periods in the night.

As the distance to go comes down, thoughts are turning towards sleep in periods longer than 3 hours and beds that are relatively stationary rather than rolling and pitching to every wave. We expect to arrive |Wednesday night or Thursday, all depending what the wind does over the next few days so we have a few more nights of short shifts first.

All is good on board.

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