Nick Moloney describes the repairs to the mast foot - but now they can't see the problem
I trust everyone understands why we held off information about our mast problem. I think we all needed to deal with the situation onboard before we became overwhelmed with advice.
So the basics are: the mast is stepped on a ball joint very similar to a tow ball on your car. This allows the wing mast to rotate. The ball, at last inspection, appeared to have a crack around half of its perimeter, quite serious. For several days the mast has been making the most horrendous noise as our bows slap over waves.
Yves has made an effort to retain the ball in the event that it shears off completely by laminating carbon fibre around the base, plate and beam. Whether or not it will be enough is impossible to say.
So things have been a little tense onboard for the past few days to say the least. It’s a very daunting thought to lose everything right now. I am sure it’s a bit of a surprise to all ashore considering the miles we have been pushing aside since punching into the trade wind belt but it’s been safer to keep pressure in the mast and sails to stop pumping.
Our immediate concern now is that we expect some head seas north of the Equator. We have options to take a longer route home and try to avoid slamming upwind in the trades so we are assessing weather heavily. There’s not much we can do now but just keep sailing smart and try to preserve when we can.
The consequences of total failure are daunting but we knew the risk level when we signed on. I believe that we are in no more danger than on any other day onboard these beasts. I think it’s the thought of a 1.8 tonne mast 40m long with over 500square metres of sail tumbling down around you that has put us all on edge. At least we are aware and know where the danger zones are onboard. I have been able to push it out of my mind for long periods. If it happens, it happens.
We can no longer monitor the crack as it is wrapped in carbon and out of view. Either it stays standing or we have issues, big issues. We are prepared in regards to safety equipment so we shall see. Those who know me know very well know that I don’t dwell on what may happen or things that are out of my hands.
Hey, we had an incredible sunrise this morning: a mixture of black rainsqualls, blue skies, white cumulus cloud, orange, red sun rays and even a rainbow for a period. Looked like an artist has seriously overdone it. It’s the 7th Equator crossing for me…..I’m getting old….
Progress is slowing this morning but were still moving in the right direction at around 15kts. Hey, it could be worse – a lot worse.