28 May 2009

Blast That Jib Halyard

So the other night we're heading back to the marina and the seas are a little rough. I'm forward on the bow trying to stow the jib temporarily with one hand while hanging on for dear life with the other. Waves are crashing up onto the bow as we plunge over one big wave and down into the next.

Finally the sail is secured, and I make my way back to the mast where I stop to tie off the jib's halyard.

I'm not entirely sure what happened next, but I am quite sure about what happened after that. Suddenly I am holding a lot of slack jib halyard in my right hand, and can't help noticing that my left had is completely empty. The other end of the halyard had zipped out of my hand and on up the mast, where it sat, perfectly perched, taunting me 30' below.

I had no idea how to get it down without dropping the mast. So in desperation and newfound humility, I posted a question about it on the Catalina Owner's Association website. What followed was very reassuring. Seems like this has happened to everyone. They had dozens of great tricks for getting that halyard down.

I decided to try a modification of their suggestions, duct-taping a piece of bailing wire to the main halyard, and then raising it up to try and snag the loose halyard's shackle. I expected it to take half an hour, so boy was I surprised when I got it on my second try! The first picture above shows a closeup of the hook duct-taped to the wire halyard. The second picture shows the successful retrieval.

That meant I had the whole evening free to sail! So I called my brother and we set out for a great sail. The winds were 14 knots gusting to 18. The waves hadn't built up too high, so we were able to make great time, heeled over at 25 degrees and crashing through the building waves.

The weird thing about sea spray on a fresh water lake is that you expect it to taste salty. And it doesn't. And it leaves you feeling like something is not quite right.

Anyway, we sailed around for an hour or so, first beating upwind toward Bird Island, then a long wing and wing run, and then a broad reach back to the Provo Marina.

My brother headed home and I took my time securing the boat for the night. My wife was out of town with the kids visiting friends for the night, so I wasn't in any rush to get home to an empty house. I read a couple chapters in my sail trim book - a book that makes you realize how much less you know than you thought you did every time you read it. I took this last picture just after the sun set. The powerboats had all gone home, there was only one other sailboat out on the lake still, and the marina was calm and quiet.

P.S. Those are my actual feet, not my stunt double's.