We got the mast on time, and in the evening the same day, we weighed anchor, and left the huge harbor of Björlanda, where the sailing boats are aligned in many long neat rows with a near German precision, and the water is cooking from activity around the three mast cranes.
We had put on the mast with the help of Janne, a truck driver who had his own boat in the same harbor, and was extremely nice to give us a couple of hours of his time helping with manpower and advice. The rig was new, reinforced and shiny (and expescive as hell), and we were finally ready.
We left the harbor for engine, moving towards the setting sun, the wind blowing in our faces. A splendid sight, and a tickling feeling of that we are finally on our way! The sails were set and the engine turned off; our course lay right towards the wind so we got to tack which didn't bring us far; Albin Vega handles head wind worse than similar boats, of the cost of being more stable. The wind was strong; Mare Liberum was heeling heavily as she fought her way westwards.
An underwater cliff on the way, it's time to change tack, to turn 90 degrees to take a new angle against the wind. I was at the rudder and Mark beside me, looking at the GPS to find the turn point and the new course.
I looked behind Mark.
The rig has come loose; the metal cable with a heavy iron attachment device at the end was swishing through the air.
- Watch out! It's come off!!!
Mark makes himself aware of the rig cable; it's now swinging uncontrollably, forced up with the hard wind.
It hits something on the deck, and ends up in the water. I turn the boat up towards the wind to give us some time. At the same time I glance at the map on the GPS, in order to locate the underwater cliff, since I now have now idea what is where and which way we're going.
The GPS is off.
The "pang" before was the rig hitting the GPS, not damaging it but separating it clear of the power chord. At the same time, we hit the wind and jibed with force. More concise swear words, trying to retain the course... Mark looks up...
- OK, now we're losing the mast!
Frankly, I considered crapping my M90 pants I was wearing for the occasion, but the mast was not aware of the fact that it was to fall, and it stayed on. Actually, with the powerful rig that we put on, it probably could have stood much more punishment. But how could we know that beforehand? We quickly pulled down the sails and made a school-book example of coming back to the harbor by engine with the tails behind our backs as fast and safe as possible.
So here's what happened. A brace holding the stern rig in place had broken clean in two. It was the one that hasn't been replaced. A spare brace could be found and attached the morning after, and we took a decision to promptly replace all the braces before we'd sail in any harder weather again. We sailed off the morning after, and thus the mandatory First Disaster was over, so we could go on sailing the Mare Liberum for two days in a row, averaging 6-7 knots, sometimes with the job only, top speed up to 8+, and once 9,9 knots - all rigs in place and the mast steady!
|Slightly rusty rig braces on another boat. Even after a full technical inspection, these can suddenly give up|