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Sailing Activity - Block Island

By Ted Getchell, AP

Several years ago, I brought my 35 foot Chriscraft sailboat from Camden, ME to Deltaville, VA. We traveled along the coast on a day-by-day basis. Harbor to Harbor. We moved about 50 miles/day, a total of 850 nautical miles. The crew was composed of different persons who were available at the time, nobody (except my wife, Ella), could go the whole distance, and she drove the car back to Greensboro. She took the trip north. The details of the trip were recorded in another memo that listed the Harbors we visited each night and some fo the experiences we encountered. One thing that occurs on just about any trip of a day or longer is an "event" (as I call it). An event is something out of the ordinary, like a mistake, or an odd weather condition, running aground, etc. We had at least six of these total for the round trip.
The event I'm going to detail happened between Cuttyhunk Island and Block Island, about 48 miles, which incidentally, shows up on the Power Squadron's chart, 1210 TN. The wind was what you'd pick, 15-25 knots out of the west-southwest. We were headed south. We were barreling along at hull speed, about 7 knots. The Town Crier, as she was named, was very heavy (it was the first series of boats made of fiberglass that Chriscraft had built: when in doubt, double the thickness) but with a good wind she did great. Another feature of the boat was the shorter mast and a long boom, the sail foot. They (designers) hadn't yet decided that the drive contributed by the main sail was coming from the first few feet from the mast. So later they increased the height of the mast and shortened the boom. The Town Crier's reached almost to the backstay.
We were carrying a 130% jib, and had gotten about two miles from Block Island and decided it was time to reduce the sail area. We'd get rid of the jib. Well, we had Roller Furling, but it wasn't as good as today's equipment, so with the heavy winds and sea, I was reluctant to come into the wind and use the furler, so I decided to drop the jib with its halyard. We turned the boat a few degrees to port to get the jib a bit more in back of the main, and started to lower by halyard, at the same time pulling on the jib sheet. The sail was bouncing in all directions and about half way down, the halyard stopped running, meanwhile the sail is waving and flapping making one heck of a racket. We couldn't lower or raise the jib because the halyard was some how jammed. Now, we couldn't use the furler either. What to do? Well, there was too much wind and sea for anyone to go up the mast right now, and the halyard would be under tension anyway so with the last thought that maybe you could drop the sail by opening the jib shackle. We decide to put up with the racket and enter the harbor as we were. Ignominious, yes. Dangerous, no. (Maybe to the sail)
When dusk arrived, the wind disappeared. The next morning before it reappeared, we hauled Chuck (he was the lightest) up the mast. He found the halyard had jumped off the pulley (sheave - pronounced - shiv) and jammed between the sheave and the mast. Chuck was able to put the halyard where it belonged and we were back in business. We continued to use the halyard as it was repaired for the rest of the trip. But after it was hauled for winter storage, large washers were added to fill the spaces on each side of the sheave.

That was an EVENT.

Nova



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Updated 21 Sep 15