Friday, March 25, 2011

Spinnaker debacles

If only we had a camera the past two days, we might have made America's Funniest Home Videos. It was definitely a comedy of errors. At the risk of us sounding like idiots, I'm going to tell you what happened.

I'll start with what will soon become the obvious...we don't fly our spinnaker very often, but to be fair, we had a good two days of non eventful spinnaker flying before we ran into issues. For those of you that don't know, a spinnaker is the big pretty billowy sail that you fly in fairly light winds and it makes you go faster. It's the one in all the pretty pictures of sailboats you seeing flying off the bow of the boat. Ours is a monster, both in size and temperment.

It started the day before yesterday when we were trying to get it up. I'm not sure how it happened but not only did we get it twisted at the point it was attached to our spinnaker pole, but as it was going up it got caught on our anchor. Andy got it unhooked fairly quickly but not before it ripped a small hole near the clew.

Yesterday morning, after repairing the spinnaker, we were ready to try again. In an effort to learn from our mistakes, we thought through everything before we acted and got it up without much hubbabaloo. We scooted right along most of the day until the wind shifted on us and we needed to tack, or change the side of the boat we were flying the spinnaker on. It's not as easy as tacking with our jib in which we just turn the boat and pull the jib over to the other side with the sheets already rigged. Our Spinnaker requires you to take it down, switch the sheets to the opposite sides of the boat, along with the pole after moving a few shackles around as well. All the while the boat is bucking like a stinking bronco because of the direction of these 8 foot swells coming at us.

So we started by trying to lower the spinnaker pole first to unhook the sail, but that wasn't working. The force of the wind was too much and I was sure Andy was going to go flying over the side holding onto the pole like that scene in Captain Ron. Next we decided to contain the spinnaker in it's little sock thingy (It pulls down over the spinnaker making it look like a long snake), then bring down the pole. Well, that wasn't happening either. Andy pulled and pulled and pulled and he bounced up and down with the wind, over and over. He tried laying down and pulling and even tried tying it to a winch, only to get the lines overridden and pretty much shredding them trying to get them out... all the time with this huge spinnaker flying wildly in front of the boat - catching all the wind she refused to catch earlier. We tried letting out line, we tried turning the boat, all to no avail. It looked like the three stooges trying to sail (only there were two of us).

Finally, after letting the lines out completely and letting the thing flap out in the water and wind, we got the sock to start coming down. Only then, I wasn't able to get the lines in quick enough so we started running over the part that was still in the water. Then I had to turn the boat around and get us in irons (so we could back up a little bit) and run up and help Andy pull it all in. Did I mention this thing was HUGE!

You would think it would be over now, right? nope. He went to hook up the spinnaker pole but the part of the spinnaker that didn't get in the sock is flying around madly so he tells me to come hold it down, stand on it, sit on it, whatever. So I do all of the above...I'm sitting in the net arms flying everywhere trying to keep this giant pink and orange (yeah, did I mention it was pink?)monster from flying out again when a huge wave comes up right under my butt and soaks me (wouldn't you know i just took a shower). An ocean enema.

We finally got it all hooked up and got the spinnaker out and we made 150 miles yesterday. Today we're doing 7 knots and I asked Andy if we could take a spinnaker break. Our winds are 15-20 knots and how fast do we really need to go (don't answer that)? My legs ache, my arms ache and my nerves can't take wondering if Andy is going over the side. He swears he has no desire to ride the sails.

But spirits are still high and we got a good laugh about it later. Practice makes perfect and I know we have plenty of time for practice. In the meantime, I'm taking advantage of the lack of shade and I'm going to work on my tan :).

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1 comment:

Jacob said...


Sounds like quite an adventure! I wish you had some photos. They would be great. Here's to hoping the rest of your passage is calm and easy.

As you may know, we're following you from and we just featured your last post, Day 7, on our homepage.

Thanks for the update!


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