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Old 04-21-2013
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Re: What to do if a shroud or stay breaks

I had a lower inner stay snap on a 36 foot boat during an Indian Ocean passage.

I used quite a heavy duty 4-1 block system (14mm line) and with a loop in the remains of the stay, I tensioned it up with a winch and I thought "Well done, that'll get me to the next port" (which incidentally was at least four days away). The sea state was quite boisterous and the SE trades were doing their normal 15 to 20 knots

During the night I started shipping large volumes of water into the boat past the mast partners and when I went up on deck I discovered that the one pulley in the block system had been totally destroyed by the tension and the mast was gyrating in the deck aperture.

Long story short, everything else I tried failed. Eventually the rubber packing in the mast partners came completely out and I had to winch the mast forward 3 inches until it was wedged firm in the front of the hole in the deck (used the anchor winch to do this). I cut up some old weather gear and made a sock around the mast and deck partners that stopped the boat from sinking.

This worked better than anything else and I eventually made a safe haven where I got the problem fixed.

But following this experience I have a profound respect for people who say that they use bits of rope, halyards and stuff to support their mast and carried on sailing. My problem was an inner stay, not even a main shroud. They obviously have talents/skills that waaaayyy exceed mine.
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