Cape to Rio Race – Rotary Scout Day 9 news

Day 9 – Monday Evening 13 January.

By Grant Chapman.

We decided to hoist the big purple spinnaker when the wind was a constant 10knots from behind but not giving enough attention to detail and ensuring that the genoa was tightly hauled in first we made a horrible mess of the whole procedure and managed to tangle the spinnaker around the front halyard and genoa. We hadn’t managed to get the anti-wrap device up before hoisting the spinnaker and the problem was compounded by the spinnaker then getting wrapped inside the genoa as it furled itself. We tried for over an hour to unwind the spinnaker to no avail and then resorted to once again sending Marcus up the mast by winching him up on the spare halyard so that he could manually unwind the big bag. It took us another hour to get it unwound, all the time having to “blind” the spinnaker with the genoa which was backed while the mainsail remained on a gybe preventer. Getting the spinnaker back down was a relief as the alternative we discussed should the wind pick up too much would be to cut it away which would have been very expensive and we would no longer have a big bag for our down wind runs. We all had an appreciation for why the spinnaker is called the “baklei seil” in sailing jargon after this episode.

It wasn’t half an hour later when the anti-wrap device collapsed after it’s halyard detached from it. Marcus was once again sent up the mast to retrieve the halyard and while at the top discovered some spinnaker thread caught around the Windex anemometer which he removed before it started interfering with our wind readings.

Being the 13th it seemed that lady luck was not smiling on us as again late at night on the graveyard shift the spinnaker managed to get itself thoroughly wrapped around the furled genoa with the anti-wrap device caught up inside it. The bungee holding the anti-wrap device had frayed to the point of losing its elasticity and the device was clearly no longer functioning as intended when so not tensioned up properly. The anti-wrap device is basically a “foresail” made out of 75mm wide webbing creating a web-like structure to prevent the spinnaker coming between the forestay and mast so preventing it from getting wrapped around the forestay (with the furled genoa on it). Virgil and Grant determined that there was no way they could unwrap the spinnaker on their own and waited the 15 minutes or so to wake Peter and Cathleen from their slumbers as it was then time for their watch. All four us agreed that we couldn’t send anyone up the mast to free the spinnaker in the dark as the risk to injury was too high so we resolved that we would try and sail it off by executing repeated turns to get the wind to unwrap the spinnaker. The alternative was to simply wait 4 hours until daylight and allow the spinnaker to flog in the wind, the disadvantage being that we would likely have it damaged if the wind picked up. It took a very frustrating hour and a half of twisting and turning the boat to unwrap the spinnaker, during which it was called all sorts of indecent names with “bliksem” the kindest. They say that sailors have a good repertoire of foul language and I think we heard most of them during the frustration of unwrapping the spinnaker one turn at a time, only to have it suddenly wrap itself up again in several quick turns without any warning whatsoever. Persevere we did though and before the next watch came on deck we had the boat sailing along nicely in winds up to 20 knots as we passed through a squall with ominous dark clouds overhead. It was a good decision to sort out the spinnaker as such wind speeds would definitely have shredded it if left unattended and in fact we had to lower it and put the genoa up again to de-power the sails in the stronger winds created by the squall.