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My Silence Ends

January 10, 2015

First the sails. Photo #1 shows the mainsail tear within minutes of my first seeing it. I had just finished a moderate air downwind and well controlled gibe with the traveler and boom centered. Something within my eye did not look right and so I looked up and saw the unbelievable tear. I looked away hoping it was a mistake and that I had not seen it at all. I looked back and it was still there. Immediately I knew it was over and sank to my knees resting my hands and head on a winch and try to cry for relief. No tears came and I was forced to accept the reality.

Photo #2 shows the sail a few minutes later when the separation became greater as most likely the luff and leach lines were coming out of the head area. I kept the sail up and used it along with a moderate sized staysail to balance and head for Cape Town. With a gale coming up the day before arrival “winds 30 to 40 knots with gusts to 50” I brought the sail down and tied it to the boom where it remained till Cape Town.

Photo #3 shows the tear once we had the sail down and on the dock. Later it was laid out in the loft for inspection and repair.

The sail is a North Sails 3di, state of the art. The tear is like nothing they have seen before. North will repair the sail without charge and that really is all I can expect. So far they have said “We’ve looked at the sail from every angle trying to find a defect and determine the cause of failure. So far, nothing has been found to raise a red flag.” Once the sail is placed back on the yacht they will look again but do not expect to find anything. My delivery crew (Steve Pettengill plus two others) will use it to sail back and are encouraged to test it especially on the first reef which I had it on when the failure occurred. They are also carrying the “old” tried and true main just in case the repair fails. With three on board they can change the sail though it would have been unlikely that I could have done it alone. They will also have the engine and will carry extra fuel in a bladder.

Next Blog tomorrow is about the rudder which was an issue, and the next Blog the following day will be on whether or not I shall try again. 

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