Pacific Crossing Day 16: So Many Sail Changes…

We sailed through the night last night, using our code zero, then the jib. The moon didn’t rise until midnight, so I got to enjoy the sight of the Milky Way for most of my shift. Listening to the ocean while stargazing is always such a treat. The wind began to clock around early this morning, so we decided to give our spinnaker another try. We dug it out of the forepeak, ran the lines, reefed the main, and brought up the halyard. We had significantly more wind than we did the last time we tried to fly it, so we were excited to see how it would go, and sure enough- it was magical. 

We were hitting SOG 7.5-8.5kn consistently, with a couple of exciting minutes above 9kn. Our top speed was 11.2kn! We let it fly until just before lunch when the wind neared the sail’s limit. As we went to snuff it, the sock got stuck. With the main on its second reef, we couldn’t blanket the spinnaker enough to alleviate the pressure. We eased the working lines out, hoping to provide some give, to no avail. Ray was hanging on the snuffer line, and it would not budge. We turned upwind, forcing the sail to one side of the boat and bringing the halyard down a bit. We were able to get the sock moving then, but it was chaos trying to control the billowing bottom of the sail. We had 18kn of wind at that point and were getting our asses kicked. Ray was manning the snuffer while I tried to keep the lines out of the water and keep the sail from getting caught in our rig. I had a brief scare as a line wrapped around my thigh. It could’ve easily taken me overboard, but I was able to free myself just in time before the next gust of wind sent it flying. We got it under control, and Ray returned to the helm to bring out the jib, keeping us sailing while I untied and flanked the lines from the spinnaker. A tidy boat is a safe boat! I threw together some lunch. We were grumpy, dripping sweat, and panting; we needed some calories. We debriefed while we ate, discussing how we could better handle that situation if it happens again: we could pull the guys in to flatten it, maybe put both engines in forward to ease the tension, or even bring the jib out to blanket the sail… This is something Ray and I have always done when something goes wrong. It makes us better sailors. 

I doubled up on sunscreen and spent the afternoon at the helm. We used our main and jib for a couple of hours before bringing the gennaker out around 2pm to gain speed and hopefully veer closer to our desired course. With the main reefed, we were going 7kn in almost the right direction. The sea state was aggravating, periodically tipping the boat just far enough to spill the wind out of our sails and leave them flapping around. We furled in the gennaker, put another reef in the main, then unfurled it again in hopes of keeping the headsail full. It helped, but all these sail changes had worn us out.

To improve crew morale, we turned on some music over the speakers. We noticed another portion of our helm enclosure ripped, so Ray hand-stitched it back together. That thing is a real piece of shit. We also noticed one of our lazy jacks came untied. Thankfully, that was a quick and easy fix. Then, we saw a couple of rips in the gennaker. It looks like it’s just the UV-resistant portion, but we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on it. 

We dealt with each issue one at a time while Amy Winehouse sang Valerie in our cockpit. Thanks to my freezer prep before our departure, with minimal effort, we had red wine braised short ribs, mashed potatoes, and green beans for dinner. There’s nothing like a good meal and a beautiful sunset to end a long day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be easier, but I guess if it were easy, everyone would be doing this! 

12 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Looking forward to your posts every day. Thanks! Beginning to think about a Pacific crossing as well in maybe two years (Lagoon 46). At 68 yrs old, it might be my final passage. Can one sell a 110V cat down under? Keep going…

  2. I am laughing at “That thing is a real piece of shit” because I swear I heard you say it, in my head! Hang in there you two!

  3. HI – you asked for wind, got wind and then used the S word? I am shocked! Can you get one side totally out of the water and all go to the other side for balance? then you go really fast.

    1. Hahaha we did not have enough wind to warrant the enclosure ripping! That thing does suck! 😂 We can’t “fly the hulls” like you’re mentioning, but there are some very cool videos of gun boats doing it.

  4. Oh wow! I love the spinnaker but getting them down can be a trick sometimes. I am glad you are okay. I can agree with your statement about the enclosure. My project for the summer is to replace the glass in ours and redo the stretchy fabric that attaches the zippers to the piece that fits into the channels. I had to do this several times now but didn’t have the fabric on hand so I sacrificed a pair of yogi pants—it works well. But, I have a sewing machine on board which makes it a lot easier when things rip apart.

    Stay safe! May today be a great sailing day!

    1. Thank you! We had the front portions of our enclosure upgraded (thicker strata glasss with stronger UV resistant thread) and it has been great, but we didn’t have the back potions done at the time 😩 Maybe a sewing machine is in our future… yoga pants in a pinch is brilliant!

  5. quick reactions! ever vigilant ! rolling with the conditions! you guys are rocking it! the tracker is showing some healthy sporty 20+knots! you are cruising! 🐬

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