(Underway, 154 Nautical Miles)
Every morning, when both of us have finished our shifts of awake and asleep, there are 6-7 hours for each of us to catch the other up on. Yes there’s the drowsy changing of the guard particulars, but there’s always more to tell (and properly hear) in the bright, morning light. It’s generally nothing exciting, as no news is really good news for night-time sailing. Perhaps there was the daring saving of a flying fish’s life, maybe someone’s book had a thrilling turn of events, or maybe Greg extended his on-shift nap alarm yet again. The point is not the actual breaking news, it’s the swapping of stories to mark another day out here on the big blue.
Some mornings, like today, stray from the norm and bring loads of excitement. As a form of entertainment I’ve taken to baking during the dark hours of my last shift of the night. Over the last couple nights there’s been fresh bread, dangerously good brownies, and today, banana muffins. The ending of my shift is marked by warm baked goods, the rising sun, and a particularly stoked Gregory to eat it all up.
While my while-you-were-sleeping acts develop more from within, Gregory’s are of a decidedly exterior nature. I awoke today to good news and bad news, both from beyond our fiberglass world. Good news first, he had caught another wahoo! It bit the line right as the sun was rising and will no doubt drive the need to get the lines in the water earlier each morning. The bad news came via the morning SSB net. Another crossing boat nearby had broken a shroud!
Shrouds are strong stainless steel cables that compose the standing rigging on a sailboat. Their balanced tensions are imperative to keeping the mast standing – plain and simple. Each boat has its own standing rigging configuration, though the majority have a forestay, backstay, two side shrouds, and some compliment of stabilizing mast shrouds located along the mast and its spreaders.
It was one of these mast stabilizing shrouds that broke on our fellow crossing boat. It broke on their leeward side, the preferred side if you must break a shroud underway. This way, the wind and powered up sail are still offering support where the shroud is no longer. An absolutely terrible situation no matter which way you look at it.
This news had everyone inspecting their rigging. One boat reported they found their side shroud’s turnbuckle hanging on by its last thread. A truly too-close-for-comfort save. The continuous wind loading and rocking swell strain out here can have a disastrous effect on any boat.
Long story short, our rigging is now marked to distinguish any changes, and rigging inspection has been added to the daily tasks – right up at the top of the list! (Somewhere behind fishing I suppose.)