Thursday, 1 December 2011

file this under: oh shit

Our competition, don't they look good?

I'd like to think I was stoic. If tears and swearing don't count, then I was. Rick definitely was. After a stunned "What the F%$#!", that is.

It started off as a fabulous day. Our  friends convinced us to join in a race. It was a fundraiser for the local schools. The sun was shining, the wind was perfect. And we were having fun.

And then. All hell broke loose. Okay, not all hell. The top 2 feet of our mast. Yep. Sails collapsed, the forestay and genoa ended up in the water, the backstay, topping lift. All in the water. Eyes blurry with tears, I scrambled to turn on the engine so that we could eventually steer the boat out of the way of the other racing boats, as Rick went up to assess the situation and began taking action. We were drifting slowly, a broken piece of the mast sadly swinging down. (Yes, I actually took a photo. It felt that surreal.)

The expression on his face says it all
First, Rick removed the forestay from the broken mast head so we could straighten out the foil and bring the genoa (that's our foresail), out of the water. Together, we slid the sail off the foil and out of the water and secured the foil. We also pulled all the dragging bits onto the deck, while I kept an eye on our surroundings. No one was around us by this point. And four hands were better than two. 

Emotions were running high, but we were focused. I radioed the marina, explained our problem in broken Spanish, and was assigned our old slip. (We had spent two days at the dock to wash down the boat, top up on water and the like, soon after our arrival in the bay - it had been a bit of a splurge, a treat.) As we motored the boat to our slip, we were both a bit shell-shocked. No one was hurt. This was a setback, but the boat was floating and we were okay. Still, it sucked.

Johny came to grab a line. (He is one of the marina's dockhands who has been coaching me with my Spanish since our first visit.) I pointed to the mast and said "Es mierda!" - he laughed. At least I can still be funny, even when I'm upset.

We tied up, and while Rick figured out our plan of attack, I went to check in with Blanca. Johny accompanied me the whole way to the office, (it's a bit of a hike from our "cheaper" dock). They don't usually do that. So I practiced my Spanish some more, and put on a brave face. After all, things could have been a lot worse.

Climbing the mast the hard way, no handy halyard
I was fine until Blanca and two other women (boaters) in the office asked me if I was okay. So much for being stoic. Hugs and encouragements later, I was feeling better. Blanca kept saying, "It will be right, I promise." Tammy, one of the marina tenants offered to make us dinner, but we didn't make it to her boat. We were still working on the boat as it got dark. John from SV Pelican had offered to help. We decided 2 was enough. Although, it felt good to receive his offer. Rick had to climb the mast (once it was stabilized) to get the mainsail down. It was a tedious process without a halyard. I coiled, organized, labeled.

Our neighbours Alan and Chris, on Beverly J, a motor vessel two docks down,  chatted with us about this and that while we were working and as we took a break. They were a welcome distraction. Eventually, Alan turned to us and said: "You had a bad day, worse than our day, let me take you out for quesadillas." By this point, we were very hungry. So we said yes. We went to La Silla Roja - a great place for tasty quesadillas. We felt much better afterward. Thanks guys!

Coiling, labeling, organizing. At some point a crisis becomes about
December 7, 2011: Upon further investigation, we have indeed come across some dry rot. It appears localized, Yet Rick will be scarphing new pieces far beyond where there is obvious dry rot. We're looking at 5 foot long scarphs on a 12:1 slope. The recipe Rick was trained to use during his Shipwright apprenticeship. Yes, the mast will be stronger than ever.)

(I wrote about this the evening after it happened. I promised myself to write about our voyaging life in an honest manner. This is easier to do when you recount details soon after they happen. There's a common saying,"cruising is fixing your boat in exotic ports..." At least it's warm and sunny here. And the taco stands are fabulous. Things are looking up!)


  1. I could feel the sickness in the pit of my stomach as you described what happened with the mast. To have been there must have been so awful...

    But on the bright side, I saw that you were out for a day sail and near land with help at hand. If the mast had to break, I'm glad it didn't break at sea and that you're both safe.

  2. Thanks! We have been repeatedly told "Thank goodness it wasn't on a passage" - So true! As far as the shit hitting the fan, we were very lucky when it comes to the where and when. For sure. And we are both safe and ready to tackle the work now! :)

  3. Glad you are both unharmed. Let me know if you need me to send you any exotic boat hardware from Granville Island or anything.

    Best wishes for the repair.

    Rob H.

  4. Rick says thanks, Rob! (As do I.)
    We've set a time to pull the mast with the nearby boat yard (it will be a bit tricky...) Now we are searching for the right wood... got a couple leads. We'll see how it goes. (We plan on doing the repairs ourselves, hopefully we'll have permission to do it at our slip.)

  5. Ouch! (((Rick and Kyra)) I can only echo what so many have already said about being close to land with help around .... and I'm sure with your upbeat attitudes, and great skills, you'll have it repaired in no time. (Wanna hear something weird? I dreamed about you guys last night, and woke up 'knowing' something had happened!) So glad you're okay!

  6. That is a bad break but at least you were close to shore. We will be stopping at La Cruz in a week or so and will see you then and lend a hand if we can.

  7. Thanks M, and SV Chantey! We appreciate the words of support - we're on the hunt for wood now (unstepping the mast is scheduled for Monday) - wish us luck! :)

  8. Oh, no... I can't imagine how scary and emotional that must've been. We're so sorry! But we're also relieved that you're okay and that after some repairs (and probably a little blood, sweat and tears), Nyon will be better than ever.

    We've been watching for you guys and listening for you on the radio. I guess it's our turn to play catch-up now. :) We're anchored in La Paz, but we'll be on our way to the mainland soon.

    Take care!
    Nicole and Aaron
    s/v Bella Star

  9. Thank you Bella Star! We lept from Cabo to Banderas Bay - seeking out the hot sun, (saving the Sea of Cortez for the spring) - We are in planning/work mode, and doing fine now! :)

  10. My heart sank as I read this post! Makes me want to go up the mast and re-double check the new masthead I scarfed in this spring.

    Let me know if I can provide any tips. In Cabo now, going to La Paz later this week, so it doesn't look like I will be there in person or I would be happy to lend a hand.

    s/v Resolution

  11. Jared! Thank you - We now have the wood, the mast has been unstepped (with lots of helpers) - luckily I'm married to a shipwright... so now it's just another boat job. (One bonus: Revarnishing the mast just got a lot easier for me...) - Keep checking your rig... Cheers

  12. From Dani:
    Wow! just read your post..oh my. I bet that was difficult to see. but definitely thank goodness you were near land. That is what you call a blessing in disguise!



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