RTW Day 180: Across the Tasman Sea - headsail sheet comes adrift - 'genoa wrap'

Jeanne Socrates encounters genoa trouble while sailing around the world.

Friday 19th April 2013

Well, at 5.30am, all was fine...& no ships were showing within 20ml on A.I.S. screen - have seen several on display now. The wind was still up, veered a little overnight from S to SSW , and we were on a broad reach, heading due E at just over 4kt, with the beginning of first light over the E horizon. Funny how 4kt feels quite fast when you've been drifting around at just 1 or 2 knots the day before!

Back to my bunk for a couple of hours' sleep before the morning radio 'scheds' (starting with position report to Taupo Maritime Radio at 7:15am LT) - woken early by an odd noise I couldn't understand, although clearly coming from the sails. Quickly on deck -the big headsail (genoa) was flapping like mad and had wrapped itself partly around the forestay - the sheet (rope that holds it in place) was cut where it met the genoa car that holds it down to the deck before going to the winch - cut as though a knife had been taken to it - and this was new - replaced just 2-3 weeks ago... I'd noticed chafe on the other genoa sheet and was keeping an eye on that one - but this one had shown no sign of chafe - until now!

Fortunately, the other sheet was holding the genoa to an extent, or the wrap would have been far worse. It was difficult enough unwrapping it in order to try to furl it in neatly - I finally managed most of it - but not very well. Tied the two parts of the cut sheet together, lead the line back to the winch and came down below for a short while to pick up some things. Back on deck, I found my double sheet bend hadn't been tied tightly enough - the slippery line had slipped & the genoa was again flapping loose. I tried to turn the furling drum to furl in the genoa -managed a bit but then it stuck tight - just would not budge far, even by hand, with both sheets & furling line completely loose... Now what to do? Checked on halyards at mast head near to top furling part - they seemed to be moving OK & not fouling the furler. Decided time to pause, get some more sleep and come back to the problem... Not feeling too happy at thought of no genoa available for next two months...

Had another go at furler - still not budging... Decided to move 2nd (spare) genoa halyard to aft of top spreader on mast to be quite certain it wasn't causing the problem at the mast head... Back to bow, to try to move drum again... vigorous twisting,... I felt something give ... it was turning freely ...it was back in action... yippee! 3pm: Was able to report success back to the Pacific Seafarers' Net: furler finally moving .. now for the sheets... Took another two-and-a-half hours to deal with those !! Had to unfurl the sail in order to bring the clew down to within my reach, to tie on the sheets and get rid of damaged lines.

How lucky that the day was sunny and warm, with little wind! I kept thinking how impossible it all would have been in stronger conditions. I'd started preparing the genoa pole early on this morning, but later stowed it away again when I realised the second sheet was also badly chafed and the furler was giving trouble. Poled out the stays'l instead while I worked on the problem - at least we could keep sailing, although the wind slowly died down.. We're back to 1.5kt since nightfall, struggling to maintain a downwind course in SW swell - rolling us about a lot...

Around 6pm, was checking around on deck after a lovely sunset and looking at the changing colours and clouds - when along came a magnificent Wandering albatross - a delight to see one this far N. New Zealand has lots of bird life and plenty of islands and rocky coastline for the birds to breed successfully. While I was busy on the foredeck in the bright sunshine this afternoon, a pair of White-chinned petrels were flying around - their yellow bill and some white at its base were very clear. Overhead, an almost clear sky, with some small clouds ahead, but astern, to the SW, a big bank of dark grey raincloud low on the horizon, showing the Low that is centred that way, not far away.

Evening - clear sky, lots of bright stars, bright moon.... but very little wind and lots more rolling about... drifting again... Pressure has been fairly steady at 1000 hPa. I'm getting regular updated short-term grib files to see what the weather is up to - it's so very changeable, but no good wind is forecast for several days.

D.M.G. over 24hr to 10am LT: 51 n.ml. - not moving very far! Hobart: 909 n.ml. (SW) ;Sydney: 608 n.ml. (due W); New Zealand's North Cape: 472 n.ml. (due E)