More Simultaneous Multiple Failures
06 March 2019 | Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten
For over a week we were looking for a weather window to sail from the BVI to St. Maarten. We would like to have either a North East wind or a very light wind. The best we could come up with was an ESE wind at 15 knots. Not great but better than 20 knots. We left Sopers Hole at 11:00 AM on 3/6 and were in the open ocean of the Anegada Passage by 3:00 PM. It was a nasty slog. We motor sailed tacking back and forth and finally made it into St. Maarten by mid-morning on 3/7. We were exhausted. We had been motor sailing with a reefed main and the staysail. When it came time to furl in the staysail, the furling mechanism wouldn’t work. By now, the wind was howling at 20 to 25 knots with an occasional gust to 30. After several attempts to furl the sail, I gave up and went forward to just drop it on deck. The sail came half way down and then stuck. Apparently, the halyard had jammed in the block at the mast. So, we had no way to get the sail down unless someone went up the mast to free the halyard. We tied off the staysail as best we could but it was flogging wildly in the high winds. We motored the last 4 miles to Simpson Bay with the staysail half up, flogging and occasionally filling with wind. When we reached Simpson Bay, we dropped the anchor and drew straws to see who was going up the mast. Caroline volunteered to hoist me up the mast which takes a lot of effort. Caroline slowly winched me up. The bay was very rolly so I was being tossed around as I went up the mast. About half way up, I noticed the anchor was dragging. Here we were, merrily dragging across Simpson Bay with me half way up the mast. I yelled to Caroling to put out more anchor chain. Finally the anchor held and we could get on with our chore. I was able to clear the halyard and we finally were able to drop the staysail to the deck. We were both totally exhausted since we had been up most of the night tacking back and forth across the Anegada passage. All ended well but I found I was asking myself – “Am I getting to old for this?”.