An Italian-Rig-Failure Kind of Passage

(Underway, Fakarava – Tahiti)

Ay yi yi!! Every passage tends to have its own defining moment or characteristic impression. Whether it’s the wild and memorable Papagayos winds along the coast of Panama, a plethora of banana bread across the South Pacific, or a quadruple strike of tuna from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus. It’s always something. And the majority of the time it’s remembered with a smile. While this particular passage had its winning moments, it is rather hard to redeem itself from the massive black mark on not only this particular passage, but what could possibly effect the entire adventure.

We set out from Fakarava yesterday in light winds. Things were lovely. We had an extra, experienced crew member to split the night shifts with, we shared fresh-baked muffins for breakfast, then disaster struck. On a routine rig check Gregory found a failure. On the port side shroud the saddle collar the holds the t-bolt from the turnbuckle had cracked clean through on one side. One more crack on the opposing side of the collar and our whole mast would come crashing down.

Upon this discovery we reefed the sails right down to decreasing the stress on the rig. Next the boys began implementing preventative measures – or should I say, backup measures should the collar break completely through. For this Gregory brought the unused spinnaker halyard over to the port side and tied it off on the deck cleat to act as a secondary side shroud. The rope halyard obviously lacks the maximum strength that the steel cable shroud offers, so it’s support to the mast would be weak to say the least.

Next Gregory pulled out the Spectra line Uncle Wayne had gifted with his spearguns last Christmas. Spectra, known for its extremely high tensile strength, is the Cadillac of lines. Though this line was meant for spearfishing activities, we would like to send a huge thank you out to Uncle Wayne and tell him that by assisting in keeping the mast upright this Spectra is directly responsible for more spearing adventures to come.

So with the super-strong Spectra line Gregory reinforced the broken fitting by tying off the shroud above and below the break. With this brace working in unison with the repositioned halyard and significantly reefed sails, we limped Oceanna along ever closer to Tahiti and hopeful repairs.

In an attempt to lighten the mood and distract ourselves with full bellies, we handed over the kitchen (along with the flour bucket) to Kim. New fun fact about Kim – he really loves playing with flour. A total win for Gregory and I as he fabbed up homemade gnocchi from our extremely meagre food stores. And what a meal it was! If his roots weren’t so clearly Brazilian, Kim could have easily convinced me of Italian decent with the supper he served.

Long story short, while this passage may be dramatically remembered as the trip to Tahiti which almost cost us our mast, there will always be the glimmering memory of chewy and delicious gnocchi to lighten the load. That being said, this passage isn’t over yet. There’s still tomorrow!

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Morning muffins underway with Kim.

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Talking over the shroud failure and ways to prevent the mast from coming down. The steel cable in Gregory’s hand is the shroud, while the white rope by Kim’s shoulder is the halyard that has been redirected to the deck cleat for additional support.

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Tying on the Spectra to brace the failing fitting.

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The pretty blue Spectra line in action. With a vice grip just for good measure. The break it located just where the threaded bolt disappears under the vice grip.

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Another view of the offshore handiwork.

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Gregory thinking he’s documenting me littering. When we both know this is completely legit.

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Kim and the flour bin doing work!

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Why oh why have I never made gnocchi before?!

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