We’re quoting Dickens this time, to summarize a recent weekend on Ravenswing. Saturday was a great sail with Griffin home during a short college summer break, Jim visiting from OR, and Charlie aboard. We had a great day outside the bay in the SF Approach shipping channel area, practicing navigation software stuff and watching for whales. Best of Times.
Sunday morning we finished up the new bowsprit attachments, loaded up the big reacher sail and furler, and headed for the south bay for “speed trials”, aiming to push the boat hard and test performance. New crew of three aboard, with winds forecast in the 10-15kts range. Nearing Angel Island, we had 25 knots across the deck and we ducked in the island’s lee to reef the main. It was a handful, particularly with three people who hadn’t sailed this boat together before, but the reef was taken and we headed towards Point Blunt, the bay’s windiest spot at the south end of Angel Island. The full jib was sheeted out too powerfully, and I went down to that winch to spill off wind. A much bigger gust hit just as we buried the leeward float bow into a ship/ferry wake wave; I felt the rig load up badly and looked back up to see the windward running backstay not set after the reefing maneuver. As I began to climb up and around the driver there was a shotgun-sounding crack and within an instant the whole rig was in the water. Worst of Times.
Ravenswing dismasted in a relatively safe place, and the three crew were completely unhurt. But we were certainly rattled. After a quick ‘taking stock’, we realized the sails appeared undamaged and I called for all efforts to go into getting the main and jib back aboard. Numerous local boats came to our aid, and a Coast Guard motor life boat was nearby, and they responded. The jib was recovered easily, and we secured the upper section of mast (in the water) alongside the windward (port) hull. The lower half of the mast was still aboard, as the halyards exiting the bottom of the mast were holding it close to the deck organizers. I decided to get in the water, as necessary to finish removing the pins holding the main’s batten pockets to the sail track slides. This meant standing on the floating mast, in about a foot of water. The sea state was choppy, so this was tricky. And of course the fancy new Spinlock deck vest got wet enough to fire, which did a great job holding my head away from the work. Hold the recovery for a few minutes, climb aboard and go get a regular lifejacket. Then resume. It took about a half hour, but finally the main was free of the mast and bunched up on deck. We then waved over the Coasties, and the boat captain agreed to put two crew aboard to help us lift the mast up on deck. Huge commendations to that man as he deposited and retrieved crew with the utmost care not to bash that big 44′ powerful boat into our leeward float topsides. The whole ordeal took about an hour, and we “left no trace” in terms of losing any debris overboard. The motor run back to Richmond was surreal. Weather was fine and I went through various states of shock and grief. Here’s how things looked late that day:
The deck and topsides (port float hull side) have some cosmetic-level damages, and hopefully the insurance company agrees it can go to KKMI next week for repairs. A new mast is going to take a long time.
Now we’re working on quotes for a new mast; the old one was deemed beyond repair, and suffered an ignominious fate… scores of thousands of dollars chopped up and carted off via the Marina Bay dumpster. We don’t wish this on ANYONE! But Ravenswing will recover and be out sailing again in 2018. Just no Mexico this season anyway.