Rolex Transatlantic – Day 5

May 26, 2005   

30 knot winds continue and we are forced to change our sail combination as the pin that extends from the batten cars on the mast into the batten end cap on the mainsail do not have a locking mechanism and despite assurances that this wouldn’t occur they are backing out. One car came detached from the main completely and Kevin and Ashley dropped the main to reattach it – this time using some loctite. However, on the rehoist one of the intermediate cars exploded off the main track spitting the ‘crayons’ which allow the car to slide up the mast out and damaging the top cap which keeps the car on the main track.  During this process the mizzen was rehoisted to take the place of the reef main and the storm jib was replaced with the number four. We found that this combination decreased heel and didn’t adversely affect speed allowing us to continue at eleven knots. We had to put a reef in the mizzen for a short while as the webbing holding the sail to the intermediate cars on the mizzen track and the cringle in the sail pulled out. Thomas and Ashley climbed up onto the boom with needle, thread, spectra webbing and a leatherman to do the repair after which it was rehoisted.  As the intermediate car is still damaged and the jib and jigger rig is still allowing 11 knots of boat speed we have left the main down for the night. We have extra cars and ‘crayons’ but the car that needs replacing is the 4th one down from the head of the main and the only way to get a new car on it by sliding it onto the track at the gooseneck. A jury rig has to be engineered, as taking off most of the main cars is not an option especially in these conditions– at the dock this is a difficult process, which takes two people half a day. Our transponder is not telling NYYC where we are and we cannot inspect it in heavy winds and seas. So we email our position when we can. We have two on-shore routers advising us, and we have two navigators aboard -- Michael Lawson and Dr. Kevin McMeel. Three different computers and programs are all telling us that over the next five days or so, we should have strong winds behind us. We are still the farthest boat south in the fleet but the boats only 60 miles north of us are in 40 knot headwinds while we are is less wind on the beam. Kevin says, 'Some guys are beating up to Nova Scotia. That's must hurt. Gotta hurt the next few days should tell.’ Lessons learnt:

  • Reinforced the idea that heeling over excessively is not fast.
  • Carrying extra main cars is essential and the ones with ‘crayons’ instead of ball bearings are the best.
  • Using loctite when assembling batten cars is essential if there is not locking setscrew.

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