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post #16 of Old 04-22-2013
killarney_sailor
Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
 
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Re: What to do if a shroud or stay breaks

Just after we left Durban harbour last year we had a failure of the double tangs that attach our starboard lowers to the mast. This meant that both lowers clattered to the deck. Winds were 20-25 knots. Seas were not high, maybe 4-5 feet but quite confused. We immediately tacked which meant we were (sort of) hove-to). I have running backstays (Dyneema) that go only a few feet higher than the lowers. I ran one of these through a honking big snatch block through the top of the chain plate which is a loop and then took the line back to one of the cockpit winches and proceeded back to the harbour which was only a few miles. I asked port control for immediate entry to the harbour but she did not seem to understand what had happened and wanted me to wait for a large container ship to enter which would have meant killing about 20 minutes in conditions that were getting nastier in the shallow water near the harbour entrance. Talked to the pilot on the ship who had been listening to the radio and he instructed me to cut directly across the channel (we weren't close) and stay to the side of the channel on the way in. He caught up at the end of the channel and we all lived happily ever after.

Lessons:
- Guys who bring massive ships into busy harbours are pros
- It is great to have a massive mast section and we do especially with the internal main furling. With two shrouds down in bumpy conditions before we tacked, the mast was remarkably stable. Don't have the dimensions but when I was thinking to use Spartite, by my calculation two large kits might have been enough. I look at the mast sections of more modern boats and I am sure they are engineered to be strong enough when all the supports are there but if something breaks you wonder. This seems especially true for complex, rigs with multiple spreaders. Hood went with a single spreader system on the Bristol 45.5. The rig is just over 60' above the water. Seems sort of old fashioned, but strong.
- Think through contingencies before they happen. When you are cruising you have lots of time to say to yourself, what would I do if ... happened right now. I had thought about losing a shroud, even though the rigging was new in 2010, so there was not much hesitation in getting into action.

I don't want to give the impression that this sort of thing is routine and ho-hum. It is one of those where is the spare underwear moments, but they happen and you deal with them. BTW, I had done a full visual inspection of the rig after crossing the Indian Ocean and this happened only a month or so and 100 miles later. Maybe I need better eyes. Probably should have sent June up as she is more detail-focussed than I am.

Back home on Lake Ontario after something over 36,000 nm circumnavigator. Not surprisingly there is a lot of stuff I want to get done on Ainia both cosmetically and functionally. Getting an early start so it will be ready to go for next summer (Lake Superior?).
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